By: Terry Harris | Email: Click Here
Posted: December 7, 2018 | 3:45 p.m.
SURRY – This November, Surry County School participated in the statewide Take Your Legislator to School Day by hosting a visit on the 19th from Delegates Emily Brewer and C. E. (Cliff) Hayes, Jr. They, along with other key local citizens, took advantage of the opportunity to share information with students about what they do as legislators while learning more about the county’s schools first-hand.
First, students from Mr. Kenneth Bell’s grade 12 Government class and Mr. John Knight’s Grade 7 Civics class assembled in the auditorium at Surry County High School. While they waited for the guests the younger students shared highlights of their recent visit to the General Assembly in Richmond, where they had the opportunity to sit in delegate seats and vote on bullying, lunch menus, and other legislation.
After Brewer and Hayes arrived, Dr. Thornton introduced Surry County Interim Administrator Sandy Warner, School Board Members Elsie Dennis and Audrey Byrd, Surry High Principal Giron Wooden, Luther Porter Jackson Middle School Principal Trina Craddox, and community member and former Superintendent of Schools in Dinwiddie County Troilen Seward. Then the delegates introduced themselves, explained their paths to public service, and described the committees on which they serve. Students were encouraged to ask questions, and the discussion ranged from a bridge over the James River to connect Surry to Williamsburg to the need for a grocery store in Surry to minimum wage.
Following the assembly, the guests toured the schools for a look at some of the innovative programs currently underway in Surry. In the Agriculture Department, Ag Ed instructor Breyon Pierce showed them the Aquaponics area. There they saw Tilapias swimming as Pierce explained how students are able to see science at work as the waste from the fish is used as nutrients to grow plants hydroponically in an area of water and lights. They finished up in the High School at the raised garden beds designed and built by the Agriculture students, where they are growing collards and lettuce and preparing to grow other vegetables as well.
Sharon Wooden, Director of Career and Technical Education, shared with them some insights into the innovative programs that Surry County schools offer to help students prepare for college, careers or the job market.
“We are a small School division,” Wooden said. “However, our students deserve to have the best and a variety of skill preparation. For example we have our own Commercial Photography class and Video and Media Production Class where students are always taking pictures and creating things like magazine covers and Yearbook layouts. And the Video and Media students have figured out the best way to make, critique, correct, and post a Public Service Announcement, and have produced several PSA Announcements for the Technology Student Association.”
The students then produced a video on the spot with their guests.
“Our students are the best,” Wooden told the visiting legislators. “They are eager to learn new skills and prepare for the real world. They are engaged in learning, not by sitting at a desk in a row and quietly listening to a teacher talk, but by participating in discussion, demonstration and helping others. We have learned about student engagement and we need to let the students lead and teach us their skills and believe in our students.”
After leaving SCHS, the legislators toured Surry Elementary School where they spoke with Principal Ann Marie Nelin and viewed ongoing Drop Everything and Read activities. Nelin spoke of how critical it is for students to become strong readers early on, as that serves as the foundation for success in all classes.
Following the visit, Dr. Thornton said, “We are very appreciative that Delegates Brewer and Hayes took time out of their busy schedules to visit and engage with our students, discuss the importance of their continuing support of and investment in public education, particularly in our smaller rural communities, and tour our schools to see a few of the great things that our students are doing every day in Surry.”