The bulk of the regular board meeting of the Lincoln County Schools Board of Education on Tuesday, Nov 12, was spent giving out numerous awards and recognitions. Battleground Elementary School was recognized for having received a Northwest Evaluation Association Educators for Equity grant in the amount of $10,000. This grant is intended to foster growth for students who face systemic barriers to academic opportunities. Battleground plans to use these funds to pay for intersession and summer camps that provide experiences and instruction to enrich the lives of students and combat the “summer slide.” 

In addition to recognition for receiving the grant, the Board of Education also approved a Low Performing School Plan for Battleground Elementary. This school is the only one within the Lincoln County Schools District that has been designated as “low performing” which means that they received a school performance grade of D or F and a school growth score of "met expected growth" or "not met expected growth." Battleground received a grade of a D and met growth. 

School performance grades are based on student achievement (80%) and growth (20%).

This plan is intended to address what strategies the school or district will implement to improve these scores. The plan will be shared with the public upon request and made available through the district website.

The board also approved a Beginning Teacher Support Plan, which is a three-year induction program for beginning teachers. The primary and direct goal of this plan is to help new teachers improve skills and build confidence to become successful educators.

Rock Springs Elementary was recognized for once again earning a school performance grade of an A. The school has done this for the past three years. Of the 1,253 North Carolina elementary schools to receive performance grades, there were only 53 or 4.2% that received an A. Union Elementary School was recognized for being a nominee for the National Title 1 Distinguished Schools Award.

The following sports-related recognitions were given:

East Lincoln Middle School – the girls softball team and girls cross country team for being Tri-County Conference champions. Lincolnton Middle School – the boys soccer team and Kirsten “Kiki” Putnam for being Tri-County Conference champions. North Lincoln Middle School – Connor Bagwell and the boys cross country team for being Tri-County Conference champions. The West Lincoln High School women’s golf team was recognized for being the South Fork 2A Conference champions and Laycee Hoffman, Reese Coltrain and Rae Watson for being all-conference players and their coach, Matthew Lytton, for being conference coach of the year.

In closed session, the board accepted the recommendations of Dr. Lory Morrow, Lincoln County Schools superintendent, to name Dr. A. Heath Belcher as the assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction for Lincoln County Schools. He is replacing Dr. Rhonda K. Hager who is retiring in December.  Belcher will continue to serve as the chief of human resources until January, when he will officially take over Hager’s position. Before serving as the chief of human resources, he was principal at Lincolnton High School for four years, Norris S. Childers Elementary for five years and an assistant principal at West Lincoln Middle School for two years. Prior to becoming an administrator he taught middle school science, math and social studies. 

Originally from West Virginia, Belcher completed his undergraduate studies at Concord University. After moving to North Carolina to be a teacher, he completed his Masters of School Administration and Ed. S. at Appalachian State University. Belcher then went on to obtain his doctorate at Western Carolina University. Belcher was recognized as Lincoln County Schools Teacher of the Year in 2006, Lincoln County Schools Principal of the Year in 2012 and 2014. His wife, Joanna, is a fourth grade teacher at GE Massey Elementary School. He has two children, Nate and Grace, who both attend school in Lincoln County.  

"Dr. Belcher has been an asset to Lincoln County Schools for many years and has served this community in a variety of manners,” Morrow said via a press release. “His knowledge of leadership, people and curriculum and instruction is impressive and he will work hard to continue our rich traditions while guiding our instructional program to be one of the top performers in our region and state."  

Belcher is taking over a team of seven directors serving all instructional areas of the district.  

Also in closed session, the board voted to hire Joshua Sain as the new multi-tiered support service /academically intellectually gifted coordinator for the district. This is a new position which will involve working with a special population of students that need differentiation. Sain’s prior administrative experience was with Kannapolis City Schools as a principal and assistant principal.  He previously served as a special education teacher and social studies teacher with various schools in Lincoln County. 

Sain attended Appalachian State University as a North Carolina Teaching Fellow. He went on to receive his Master of Arts in Executive Leadership from Gardner-Webb University and is working toward obtaining his doctorate in Educational Leadership from Gardner-Webb. Sain will begin his role with the Instructional Services Center for Lincoln County Schools in January.

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