FULFILL YOUR CALLING
The most formative years in a child's life is from birth to approximately 15 years of age.
Benfield, Jamie Ledsinger
ProQuest LLC, Ed.D. Dissertation, Wingate University
Anson County School District wished to determine the relationship between Fast ForWord Scientific Learning data and North Carolina End of Grade reading scores at Anson Middle School in Anson County, North Carolina. The specific research questions that guided this study include: 1. How does the literacy intervention, Fast ForWord, affect EOG growth scores at the seventh grade level? 2. What factors, including Fast ForWord, best predict a struggling student's scores on the North Carolina End of Grade test? The subjects for data collection were a total of two hundred and ninety-one seventh grade students at a middle school in Anson County, North Carolina. The students were enrolled in seventh grade in the 2010-2011 academic year and in the eighth grade. When correlating the strength of the relationship between the dependent variable, EOG scores, and the independent variable, the number of Fast ForWord products completed, a single linear regression was performed. Based on the regression statistics, R Squared was equal to 0.004. The ANOVA calculations showed a Significance Factor of 0.29. To analyze the impact of multiple variables on an outcome, a multiple regression analysis was used to calculate what factors, including Fast ForWord, best predict a struggling student's scores on the North Carolina End of Grade test. Overall, the study had a statistically significant outcome with models which should be useful to education as these relate to current research in the field of education. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page: http://www.proquest.com/en-US/products/dissertations/individuals.shtml.]
Dr. Jamie Ledsinger
Jamie Benfield Ledsinger, who most recently completed a four-month stint as interim principal at Northside Elementary School of the Arts, has been named principal of Saluda Trail Middle School. Her career spans 18 years, and she has taught high school English and held principalships at three schools in Union County (N.C.) Public Schools and Anson County (N.C.) School District. She holds her undergraduate and master’s degree from The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and she completed her education specialist and doctorate programs at Wingate University. Her areas of study included English and secondary education, school administration and curriculum, and educational leadership.
A new building is making a major impact on learning at Walter Bickett Elementary. Third through fifth graders are now occupying a new wing that includes 15 classrooms, six resource rooms and a new curved-style auditorium. Through the renovation project, the school also received a cafeteria expansion. The total project added 27,000 square feet to the school.
Union County Public Schools administrators, Board of Education members, community leaders and Walter Bickett Elementary staff and students celebrated the opening of the new building at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday, May 5. The program will include a school tour, remarks from UCPS administrators and a student performance.
“I want to thank our school staff, the Board of Education, Dr. Houlihan and my colleagues for supporting Walter Bickett Elementary,” said Principal Dr. Jamie Benfield. “As we expand our Classrooms of Tomorrow and focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), these flexible classrooms will allow for more project-based learning. Our students and teachers are so excited about the new building and the possibilities for learning and growth.”
The new classrooms are a big hit for students and teachers because they are designed to allow maximum flexibility for instruction. Each classroom has share walls, adjustable seating and modern technology that will support STEM instruction.
“This wing is equipped with amazing resources that will allow students and teachers to collaborate and focus on problem-based learning,” said Dr. Houlihan, Superintendent of Union County Public Schools. “I want to thank our facilities team and Dr. Benfield for their leadership on this project.”
Good communication with parents is essential, and students are never too young to think about their futures: two philosophies that have led to three Union County Public Schools principals being recognized for their leadership.
Superintendent Dr. Andrew Houlihan recognized Walter Bickett Elementary School principal, Dr. Jamie Benfield; Porter Ridge High School principal, Dr. Bashawn Harris; and Sun Valley Middle School principal, Vicki Merritt during the Thursday, Jan. 5, general principals meeting.
Houlihan honors principals each month with the Team UCPS Leadership Award, a certificate of appreciation and a Team UCPS hat.
Dr. Benfield was honored for being proactive in exposing her young students to college and career readiness when she took advantage of a Free Education Day at UNC-Charlotte. This opportunity resulted in her entire fourth grade going on a tour of UNC-Charlotte.
Last year, more than 200 Union County Public Schools staff members were trained on the importance of mindfulness and self-care for educators and students. The training taught the employees a set of strategies intended to help students achieve success through focus based on the Five Principles of Health and Wellness: body, breath, mind, attention and engagement.
Since then, the therapeutic techniques have been practiced in six schools across the district, including Walter Bickett Elementary (WBES), where Principal Dr. Jamie Benfield hopes her students will ultimately learn how to integrate mindfulness into their lives.
“If students are dealing with anxiety or other issues that children aren’t used to dealing with, then they can’t get down to what they’re here to do. And their job is to learn,” she said. “The first priority is to make sure that we are teaching the whole child, that they feel safe while they’re here and that we’re giving them strategies to be successful -- not just in academics, but also in life.”
Last year, WBES began to incorporate mindfulness into its day by guiding the school’s 750+ students through breathing exercises over the intercom each morning. Books about mindfulness were also available to students during the day.
Color therapy was introduced this year with areas of the school painted in the seven colors of the chakras, or energy centers in the human body. The main lobby was painted red to make students and visitors feel grounded when entering the school, classroom hallways were painted yellow to make students feel confident and in control of their lives, and common spaces were painted orange to encourage connections and acceptance of others.
“We taught the students about their brain and we taught them about the power of being mindful, but now we want them to practice it,” she said. “So that’s why we added Mindful Movement to the related arts wheel so that we can practice some of those strategies.”
During the Mindful Movement class, which is taught by WBES Behavior Modification Teacher Ashley Covington, students explore mindfulness through games, activities and creative expression. The class incorporates yoga poses to help the students increase their strength, balance and flexibility while also helping to establish and improve emotional recognition and social skills.
Ashley integrates literacy into the class by reading aloud to the students. And specific poses and postures help the students alleviate emotions and feelings related to frustration, anxiety, hyperactivity and more.
“I enjoyed the exercises because it made me feel calmer,” said fifth-grade student Isabella Armenta. “I like the tree pose the most because it made me remember my grandma’s favorite tree. When I leave, I feel like I can concentrate a little more in my class.”
Dr. Benfield said it’s important to teach strategies that students can use now in their academics, in the future as they prepare for college and careers, and in their communities.
“We are teaching the youth of America. These kids are going to grow up and become adults in the workforce,” she said. “If we can teach them strategies to be present in the moment and not dwell on their past and to make an impact on others by being kind, peaceful and mindful, then they will have better futures.”
Antioch Principal Dr. Jamie Benfield said her school will use the money to purchase 35 pedometers to track student progress in the gym.
“This is really exciting,” Benfield said. “It allows us to do something else with technology. We’re assessing students in all the content areas, and now there will be some type of quantitative data to see how the kids are performing in PE, to make sure that they’re all exercising and meeting their target heart rate.”
Money left after the purchase of the pedometers will be used to purchase other fitness equipment for Antioch students.
The idea for the pedometers was the brainchild of PE teacher Cassie Sloop. “I think PE is going more and more to assessment. I wanted students to know how to be physically active and what level they should be in.”
Students will put on the pedometers as soon as they enter the gym. When they leave, the data will be downloaded into a computer.
“The pedometers give me an idea where the kids are and it gives the kids an idea of where they should be, as far as exercising, to give them maximum results,” Sloop said.
The United Way recently recognized Union
County Public Schools on May 5 as the organization
with the highest employee donations.
UCPS employees have donated close to
United Way’s Ivy Allen told a room of UCPS
administrators that the district continues to
be the largest employee campaign in Union
County and the region.
“When other school systems see what you
do, hopefully they’re inspired,” Allen said in a
news release, adding that UCPS won the top
campaign designation in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
“The number of families that those gifts reach
is just phenomenal. We do appreciate it very
Schools in the Weddington Cluster took
home two top trophies for being the highest
percentage in participation and the greatest
improvement in percentage of participation.
Schools in the Marvin cluster were recognized
for the highest per capita.
Antioch Elementary welcomes Dr. Jamie Benfield as principal, effective June 16, 2014. Dr. Benfield relocated to the Carolinas from Alabama in 1995. She is proud to work as an educational leader within Union County Public Schools and calls Union County, North Carolina her home. Dr. Benfield has led as a school administrator at the elementary and middle school levels. Her classroom teaching experience is at the high school level as a former 9th through 12th grade English teacher. She comes to Antioch from Marvin Ridge Middle School, where she served as assistant principal.