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WUNC's American Graduate Project is part of a nationwide public media conversation about the dropout crisis. We'll explore the issue through news reports, call-in programs and a forum produced with UNC-TV. Also as a part of this project we've partnered with the Durham Nativity School and YO: Durham to found the WUNC Youth Radio Club. These reports are part of American Graduate-Let’s Make it Happen!- a public media initiative to address the drop out crisis, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and these generous funders: Project Funders:GlaxoSmithKlineThe Goodnight Educational FoundationJoseph M. Bryan Foundation State FarmThe Grable FoundationFarrington FoundationMore education stories from WUNC

The Teacher's Room BLOG: You Know What Teachers Do. Right?

WUNC File Photo


Fascinating article published over the weekend by the Washington Post entitled "You Think You Know What Teachers Do. Right? Wrong." The author, Sarah Blaine, spent two years teaching English Language Arts at a rural public high school. She left to be a lawyer.

Here's an excerpt from the middle of the post:

"Three years as a law student had no more prepared me for the practice of law than 18 years of experience as a student had previously prepared me to teach. But even in my first year as a practicing attorney, I earned five times what a first-year teacher made in the district where I’d taught.

I worked hard in my first year of practicing law. But I didn’t work five times harder than I’d worked in my first year of teaching. In fact, I didn’t work any harder. Maybe I worked a little less." Read the full story.

About The Teacher's Room: This is a collection of blog entries, essays, tweets and other writing by and about teachers with a particular focus on the state of North Carolina. Featuring an article on this blog does not indicate endorsement. Want to submit your original writing? E-mail our curator, Carol Jackson.


Nick Goepper, Still from video 'The Physics of Slopestyle Skiing'
Credit NBC Learn
Nick Goepper, Still from video 'The Physics of Slopestyle Skiing'

The National Science Foundation and The National Science Teachers Association have teamed up with NBC to create a series, Science and Engineering of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Ten short videos are online, along with lesson plans and transcripts.

Topics include: "Stability and Vibration Damping In Alpine Skiing"

"The Science of Snow"

"The Science of Ice"

"The Physics of Figure Skating"

"Shaun White and Engineering The Half Pipe"

All of the materials are free.


A Gravity Games participant
Credit Mike Briley
A student participates in the very first Gravity Games, 2011

NC Gravity Games.Registration is happening now. Games are 4/5/2014.

There are two categories. Students can build cars from kits, or more advanced teams can race "scratch-built" cars.

Appalachian State University professors have developed a curriculum that can help teachers integrate the project into STEM lesson plans. The day is sponsored by Google.


Change, Coins
Credit Adam Bartlett (adam*b) / Flickr
Turning pennies into big bucks for schools?

Teams of undergrads and graduate students have been dreaming up new ideas to benefit North Carolina's classrooms. It's a contest, with a $50,000 prize to actually develop the winning idea. The winner will be announced next week. 

For example, one team envisions Pennies for Progress, a technological gizmo that would be set up at the cash registers of small business state-wide:

Our program is simple: each time a customer makes a purchase they can round their bill to the next dollar and donate the difference. If half of North Carolinians donated just ten pennies each week, we could raise $50,000,000 to support local schools.

Other projects include a kind of online dating - one in which the skills of parents are matched with the needs of schools. A community college wants to make an gaming portal to connect adolescents with health education.

The SECUEmerging Issues Prize For Innovationis underwritten by the State Employees Credit Union and is being run by the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State.

Take a look at all of the finalists here. The winner will be announced next week.


"I am the 14 percent. I am one of many teachers in North Carolina considering leaving the profession. I don't want to. It hurts to voice this. But we are entering a time of darkness in education in the Tar Heel state. We are forced to wonder if an administration plagued with controversy has purposefully attempted to devalue North Carolina public education in order to make the next generation passive and uneducated, if not outright ignorant." - Katie Mgongolwa, teacher and writer in Chapel Hill

Read her full essay on the Huffington Post.


NC Teacher of the Year Karyn Dickerson, being interviewed at the State of the Union, with Senator Kay Hagan (right).
Credit via Twitter
NC Teacher of the Year Karyn Dickerson, being interviewed at the State of the Union, with Senator Kay Hagan (right).

North Carolina's Teacher of the Year, Karyn Dickerson, attended the State of the Union address in Washington, DC earlier this week:

"I did not go to any after party. I went outside in the beautiful night. I walked past the Capitol and met my husband outside in the snow. And we reflected as we walked. [The evening] reinforced the fact that we as educators need to continue reaching out, to have a dialogue, that’s what we need.”

Read the full story.


Karyn Dickerson is North Carolina's current Teacher of the Year.  The "27 Ways To Respond" article offers a list of 27 things a teacher can do when things get out of hand.

  1. Ask them to repeat what was just said
  2. Stand next to them
  3. Give them the marker and ask them to be the record keeper.

Read all 27 things.



WRAL Article, "Ads Lure NC Teachers to Virginia":

Low morale and no pay increases within the past five years have contributed to an increase in teachers leaving North Carolina schools. But Virginia wants them. The Western Virginia Public Education Consortium is advertising an upcoming two-day teacher recruitment fair in community newspapers across North Carolina.

Here's the ad the article references:

Ad in the Charlotte Post which recruits North Carolina teachers
Teacher Recruitment ad from the Charlotte Post


"When I and my fellow teachers can, with absolute confidence of what works in the classroom, engage at the highest levels in the difficult discussions facing today’s educational systems, then we have not only begun the job of restoring public confidence in our profession, but also have created one part of the path to becoming the best educational system on the planet. Doing so means that we, as teachers, are not only able to point to unquestionable results in student performance, but we are also helping to make a tangible difference in the economic trajectory of our nation. Nothing else, in my view, is acceptable as we prepare our students for the challenges they and this country will face in today’s modern workplace."

- Ben Owns, Mathematics and Physics TeacherTri-County Early College, Murphy, NC. Blog entry for NC New Schools. Read article here. Owns left his job as an engineer with a Fortune 15 company to teach.


Chris Gilbert teaches English at a high school and community college in North Carolina. He wrote an Op-Ed for the Washington Post that published today, "Bad News For Teachers Comes In An Automated Phone Call:"

I recently received an alarming, automated phone call. The recording revealed that the top 25 percent of teachers in my district will soon be offered a four-year contract and an annual $500 pay increase (added to the base salary each year of the contract) in exchange for relinquishing tenure rights. After hearing of this new merit-pay plan, I had a few questions: How will these teachers be selected (this is currently undetermined)? What metric can effectively isolate a “top” teacher’s influence from other human beings, past and present, who influence a student? Do only 25 percent of my fellow educators deserve a pay raise? Why do the reformers promoting such an approach feel that market-based systems emphasizing competition are applicable to education?

Read the entire Op-Ed here.

Carol Jackson has been with WUNC since 2006. As Digital News Editor, she writes stories for, and helps reporters and hosts make digital versions of their radio stories. She is also responsible for sharing stories on social media. Previously, Carol spent eight years with WUNC's nationally syndicated show The Story with Dick Gordon, serving as Managing Editor and Interim Senior Producer.
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