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Cheryl M. Shuffler
Public Relations Officer
Burke County Public Schools
(w) 438-2989 | (c) 432-6212

Supper is now served at Forest Hill

posted Sep 20, 2017, 1:59 PM by Cheryl Shuffler



            Forest Hill Elementary School’s cafeteria will soon ring the bell for three meals a day. Burke County Public Schools and Chartwells has moved its Eat Well After the Bell supper program to Forest Hill Elementary, at 304 Ann St., Morganton, adding a late-afternoon/early-evening meal to its breakfast and lunch programs. The supper program is open to anyone in the community and is free to all children ages 3 to 18. The supper price is $3 for adults. The hot meal is served from 3 to 6 p.m. each week on school days starting Thursday, Sept. 21 The program also includes a homework club and nutrition activities from 3 to 3:45 p.m. each day.

Eat Well After the Bell menu items include barbecue chicken, baked spaghetti and a pancake breakfast for supper, just to name a few. The program is federally funded through the USDA, and averaged 80 meals served at its previous location.

Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam said, “We are pleased to offer this additional meal to students and their families. We have a new afterschool program at Forest Hill and are excited that the community has access to a good, healthy, hot supper. Parents don’t have to worry about cooking, and they can feed their children for free. It really is a relief on their pocketbooks and their time. We are grateful for our partnership with Chartwells to be able to take advantage of this opportunity through the USDA. Chartwells does a fantastic job serving students twice a day and now three times a day at our supper program location.”

Putnam added that the free supper is a great opportunity for faith-based organizations in the area who hold services on Wednesday evenings to take advantage of the program and visit Forest Hill as a group for a meal.

  Visit www.burke.k12.nc.us to view the monthly supper menu.

Burke County Board of Education Meeting

posted Sep 15, 2017, 11:17 AM by Bcps Bcps

The Burke County Board of Education will meet on Monday September 18, 2017 at 6pm.  The meeting will be held in the Olive Hill Room at the Olive Hill Resource Center, 509 West Concord Street Morganton, NC.  The agenda is linked below.

Simmons named Principal of the Year; Childers named Assistant Principal of the Year

posted Sep 14, 2017, 7:44 AM by Cheryl Shuffler

When people ask Freedom High School Principal Felicia Simmons how many kids she has, she takes the enrollment number at her school and adds three to it. Simmon’s motto is “family first” and to her, family includes her husband Monte, children Monte Jr., Felice and Micah, plus her students, faculty and staff.

This mother of 1,126 was named Burke County Public Schools Principal of the Year last Thursday night before the start of her new school family’s home football game against East Burke High School.

“I am humbled that my peers would vote me principal of the year,” Simmons said. “All of my colleagues deserve to be principal of the year. All of us work so hard and put students first. So I share this with all of my principal colleagues.”

Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam surprised Simmons with the honor on the football field last Thursday night. “I was in shock,” Simmons said of her immediate reaction.

Putnam also surprised Jim Childers as Assistant Principal of the Year at the game. Childers is the athletic director, assistant principal and an assistant football coach at East Burke High School.

The principals and assistant principals of Burke County Public Schools voted Simmons and Childers for the honors. Putnam said of both, “I see in Mrs. Simmons and Mr. Childers what our colleagues do and that is their dedication and passion for education. They are all about serving students and are all in at their schools. I look forward to working with them for many years to come and seeing their continued impact on our great school system.”

Simmons is the first female principal at Freedom.

She said her oldest son, a sophomore at Winston-Salem State, called her last Thursday night after seeing on social media the news of her being named principal of the year.

 “He told me how proud he is of me, and he said, ‘You were right, Mom. You always said anything is possible.’ He started repeating quotes I have told him all his life,” Simmons said.

Some of those quotes include:

“When you write the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen.” (Harley Davidson ad); “It takes a village to raise a child.” (African proverb); and “Everyone has a leader inside of them.” (Steve Covey)

Simmons said she lives by these philosophies.

She said, “I love being around the kids. They keep me young. I love seeing them become leaders. It takes all of us – custodians, cafeteria staff, maintenance staff, teacher assistants, teachers. We all play an essential role in meeting the needs of these students, and I encourage all of us to grow leaders.”

Simmons’ path to leadership went through West Caldwell High School and Winston-Salem State University. It was at Winston-Salem that she met her husband, Monte. Monte, the head football coach and a PE teacher at West Iredell High School, played football for the Winston-Salem State, and Simmons was on the band flag and dance squad.

Simmons has a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education and started her teaching career as a seventh-grade language arts teacher at Gamewell Middle School. She received her school administration master’s degree from Gardner-Webb University. She was assistant principal at Hibriten and principal at West Lenoir School of Technology before coming to Burke County Public Schools in 2013. She has been principal at Walter Johnson and Table Rock middle schools and was named principal at Freedom this summer.

She thanked the faculty and staff at her previous school, Table Rock, and her new school, Freedom. “They are wonderful and have been so supportive, and they get credit for this honor of principal of the year, too.”

            On being named assistant principal of the year, Childers said, “I was really caught off guard in receiving this award. There are so many more deserving people in this school system for this award. I will say that I am truly blessed to work with the people I do. The entire staff at East Burke makes my job easy.”

Like Simmons, Childers, too, has roots in Caldwell County. He graduated from Hibriten High School and attended Catawba College. He played football, basketball and baseball and wrestled in high school and played football in college. He has bachelor's degrees in special education and physical education and has a master’s degree in administration from Gardner-Webb University. Childers spent 12 years teaching special education for the Caldwell County School System. In 2001, he came to Burke County Public Schools serving as principal at East Burke Middle School and assistant principal at East Burke High School. He coached football at Hibriten and Catawba College and spent the last 16 years coaching football at East Burke High.

Childers and his wife, Jill, have three sons, Brett, Chase and Matt. Brett and Chase are sophomores at East Burke High School, and Matt is a science teacher at East Burke Middle School.


Photo: Dr. David Fonseca, assistant superintendent; Dr. Larry Putnam, superintendent; Felicia Simmons, principal Freedom High School, Casey Rogers, assistant principal and athletic director Freedom High School; Dr. Anna Moose, assistant principal Freedom High School; Jim Childers assistant principal and athletic director East Burke High School; Shane Mace, principal East Burke High School. 

BCPS ranks in top 25 percent of best districts in state

posted Sep 14, 2017, 7:31 AM by Cheryl Shuffler


A few weeks into a new school year and Burke County Public Schools has found its niche on a list of best schools districts in the state. The website k12.niche.com ranks Burke County Public Schools 29th on its list of 2018 Best School Districts in North Carolina. The rating is based on reviews from students and parents as well as test scores, college readiness factors and teacher quality.

The website gives Burke County Public Schools As and Bs for teachers, academics, health and safety, facilities, extracurricular activities and diversity. Based on overall experience, students and parents give the school system a 4 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest.

Individually, 24 mainstream schools in the district received either an A or B from the website. Niche explains the “ranking is based on rigorous analysis of academic and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education along with test scores, college data and ratings collected from millions of Niche users.”

Here are some of the reviews of Burke County Public Schools listed on the site:

I like how the counselors are very helpful and most of the teachers prepare you for the finals.”

“Really like the staff and how helpful they are... lunch food options are great... They go above and beyond to make sure your kids are safe...”

“I like that Burke County Schools care for the students and try to keep with the latest social media, such as Snapchat or Twitter.”

“I like Burke County School because my school always acts as a family, not as individuals. Every school has drama, as does mine, but we also find a way to unite and have fun with school.”

Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam said, “This ranking from niche.com proves what we already know about our school district and its great schools and teachers. Ranking right up there with other districts such as Wake, Orange and Buncombe schools is something to be proud of. We have only good things ahead of us with our renewed commitment to student success as outlined in our five-year strategic plan as well as continued initiatives on teacher planning and instructional rounds and the introduction of new programs.”

Those programs include Project Lead the Way in elementary schools, more technology in the middle schools, and a cosmetology school and increased enrollment in the N.C. School of Science and Math courses offered through the STEAM Academy.

In addition to recognizing staff and students, Putnam thanked parents and the community for their continued support. He said, “Our partnerships between school and home as well as with the Burke County Board of Commissioners, Burke Development Inc., the Burke County Chamber of Commerce, Western Piedmont Community College and Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge, plus many more, support our mission and vision as we continue to ignite learning for a brighter future.”

The No. 29th state ranking for Burke County Public Schools is out of 116 school districts. The website also ranks Burke County Public Schools 35th on the Best Places to Teach list. Niche also ranks places to live and colleges. While the 2018 Best Places to Live results are not out yet, in 2017, the county of Burke as a whole is ranked 8th on the lowest cost of living list, 9th on the best place to buy a house list and 18th on the list of counties with the best public schools in North Carolina.


Photo: Students in Paul Gantt’s Project Lead the Way class at Patton High School work on programing a robot to complete certain tasks. 

Burke County Board of Education Meeting

posted Sep 8, 2017, 12:30 PM by Bcps Bcps

The Burke County Board of Education will have a work session on Monday September 11, 2017 at 6pm.  The meeting will be held in the Conference Room #10 at Olive Hill Resource Center, 509 West Concord Street Morganton, NC 28655.  This is a work session and "no action will be taken".  

Board of Education Meeting

posted Aug 17, 2017, 1:29 PM by Bcps Bcps

Public Notice:  The Burke County Board of Education will meet on Monday August 21, 2017 at 6pm.  The meeting will be held in the Olive Hill Room at the Olive Hill Resource Center, 509 West Concord Street Morganton.  Please see the attached agenda and notice.

Board of Education Public Notice

posted Aug 10, 2017, 11:07 AM by Bcps Bcps

The Burke County Board of Education will have a work session on Monday, August 14, 2017 at 6:00PM. The meeting will be held in Conference Room #10 at Olive Hill Resource Center, 509 West Concord Street, Morganton, North Carolina 28655.
The agenda for the meeting is attached.  This is a work session and “no action will be taken”.

Rogers picked to coach East/West All-Star game

posted Jul 29, 2017, 6:36 PM by Cheryl Shuffler

            Freedom High School’s Casey Rogers has been named as a coach in the 2018 North Carolina East/West All-Star Games next summer. Rogers, the head men’s basketball coach, athletic director and assistant principal at Freedom High School, will coach the West men’s team in the July 2018 games. The N.C. Coaches Association chooses the coaches each year. Rogers said, "I'm honored to be chosen as the head coach for the West in the NC All-Star games. I'm excited to represent Freedom and Burke County in the game."

            The East-West All-Star Games are played every year in mid July at the Greensboro Coliseum. Next year will mark the 69th meeting of the men’s games and the 43rd for the women’s games. The games feature all-star players from across the state. Most of the players have secured a college scholarship and many go on to become NCAA stars.

This will be Rogers’ first time coaching in the East/West All-Star Games, though he played for the West in 1998, and his father, Terry Rogers, was the head coach for the West in 1993.

Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam said, “I’ve watched Casey grow from a great student athlete and leader on the basketball court into a great coach and leader at Freedom High School, and I am proud of all he has accomplished. Coach Rogers is an excellent choice to represent the western part of the state and Burke County as a coach in the East-West All-Star Games, and we are looking forward to the games next summer. Who knows – hopefully we’ll have players in the games, as well. Congratulations Coach Rogers. This is an honor you deserve.”

            Rogers is entering his 12th season as head coach for the Freedom High School men’s basketball program. In his 11 seasons at Freedom, he has a career record of 232-77. He has led Freedom to five conference tournament championships, four conference regular season championships, four regional appearances and a state championship in 2014. He has been voted conference Coach of the Year five times, District 10 Coach of the Year twice and was the 2014 AP Coach of the Year. Prior to becoming the head coach at Freedom, he spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Freedom, one year as an assistant coach at Mars Hill College and two years as a graduate assistant at the University of Tennessee. 

In high school, Rogers was a three-time All-State point guard playing for his father, Terry Rogers, at Freedom High School. In his senior year, he helped lead the Patriots to the 1998 North Carolina 4-A state championship and was the game MVP. Rogers played in the 1998 East/West All-Star Game as well as the 1998 NC/SC All-Star Game. He was named 1999 Southern Conference Freshman of the year and finished seventh nationally in assists average in 2000. Rogers finished his college career at Western Carolina University ranked second all-time in assists, fourth all-time in 3 pointers made, third all time in games started and seventh all time in steals.

Rogers started his career with the Burke County Public Schools system in 2004. He has a bachelor’s in business law from Western Carolina University, a master’s in sports management from the University of Tennessee and a master’s in administration from Appalachian State University.

He and his wife, Ashlee, have two children, a 15-year-old Jacy and an 8-year-old Drew. His parents are Terry and Tonya Rogers and his sister is Lindsey Kilgore.

BCPS summer internship grows

posted Jul 11, 2017, 6:52 AM by Cheryl Shuffler   [ updated Jul 11, 2017, 8:43 AM ]

YouTube Video


          An internship is a valuable way to gain work experience, learn new skills and pad a resume.  This summer, 35 Burke County Public Schools students are getting course credit for working an internship and eight of those are getting experience directly at Burke County Public Schools. The bus garage, custodial department and public relations department have hired high school students to work paying jobs over a 10-week period. 

            Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam said, “This internship program is beneficial to the students, the employers and the workforce in general. It’s a great opportunity for our young people to gain valuable work experience and receive a class credit. We are grateful to the businesses and industries in Burke County who have taken a chance on our students as interns and hope others will in the future.”

            Putnam said the internship program has not been without its roadblocks.

            He said, “The barriers we have faced in trying to get an internship program started include the students’ ages, as most places want you to be 18 years old to work there. Others do not want to pay interns. It’s hard to get anybody to work for free. Another barrier is places want workers who already have experience, and they aren’t willing to take the time to train young people. We talk about how young people are not coming back to Burke County, but we need to be willing to invest in them and give them an incentive to come back here.”

            Putnam said Burke County Public Schools decided to lead the way in the internship movement and hire students who are under 18 and pay them $1 over minimum wage.

“Running a school system is like running a large industry. We are making an investment in the future of our workforce, and we hope other county and city governmental agencies and businesses and industries will do the same. We recognize the need for plumbers and electricians and HVAC professionals, and one way to ensure that we have workers interested in these jobs in the future is to offer them an opportunity to learn these trades. I have the utmost confidence that if you take a chance on our students, you will be surprised at what they can do. Our students tend to rise to the expectations that people have for them.”

Putnam hopes to see the Burke County Public Schools internship program grow even more and see the summer internships turn into afterschool jobs this fall for some of these students.

The student interns working with the custodial staff are doing jobs such as waxing floors and changing light bulbs; at the bus garage they are washing buses inside and out; and in public relations the one student is working on marketing material, social media, producing videos and writing stories.

            The interns’ hours range from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday with a target of 25 hours per week; the pay is $8.25 per hour. The student interns said teachers at their schools were instrumental in informing them of the internship opportunity.

            Alex Cook, a rising 11th grader at Hallyburton Academy, said of the internship, “I thought it was a great idea to get a job and meet new people.”

            Alex, Charles Pendley, a rising 12th grader at Freedom High School, and Dorrien Coleman, a rising 12th grader at Patton High School, are all interning at the bus garage. Charles would like to be a mechanic some day and hopes to get experience working on buses and not just washing them this summer. In the meantime he takes pride in being able to do something in the community by providing clean buses for students to ride come August. The boys work the early shift – 6 a.m. to noon.

            They said they would be up anyway doing chores, and like being out early before the summer sun heats up the day. There’s also that paycheck. They are all looking forward to the first one, with plans to spend it on gas and pets and maybe even stick some back in savings.

            Their supervisor, John Cansler, Burke County Public Schools director of transportation, said, “I appreciate the opportunity to have these interns. These guys are outstanding and hard workers. This is a hot job, but they are doing a great job cleaning the buses.”

            The custodial interns include Grant Reynolds, a rising 11th grader at Patton High School, and Matthew Kiser, a rising 11th grader at Draughn High School. Grant has been assigned to W.A. Young Elementary School and Matthew to his own school, Draughn. Grant’s supervisor, Lisa Conley, said she wishes she had a whole team of Grants. “He is cleaning out sinks and putting in light bulbs – anything I ask him to do he does it, and he doesn’t complain.”

            Grant said the paid internship coupled with the class credit both made him interested in working for Burke County Public Schools this summer. “I’m working with great people. They are awesome,” Grant said.

            Betty Bradley supervises Matthew at Draughn High School and said,  “He’s punctual, has a good attitude and works well. I am tickled to have him.”

            Matthew said he is taking pride in his job, too, and making the school building look good for fellow students when they return in August. He had one warning for them – that they better keep the school clean after all of his hard work.

            Anna Burkhalter is the intern for the public relations department and Cheryl Shuffler is her supervisor.

            Anna said, “I’ve enjoy getting out of the office and going out to take pictures and shoot videos. I expected it to be more of an office job, but it’s nice to get out and see how the school system works in the summer.”

Shuffler said, “Anna brings a student’s perspective to our public relations efforts and is aiding us in adapting our messages for a younger audience. She shows up early, works hard, is very creative and is self-motivated. She has aspirations of going to Mars one day, and with her drive I have no doubt that when she gets there I’ll be able to say, ‘I knew her when.’”      

            Career Development Coordinator Jamie Norton, from Draughn, is in her third year overseeing the internship program. She said it has grown from 15 students the first year to 35 this year. “It has taken off,” Norton said. “It is enticing to families that students can gain the experience and receive the honors credit, if they choose. While the internships aren’t all paid, they do offer job skills and something for students to put on a resume. An internship on a resume is how you get a job these days and that makes a big difference.”

            In addition to Burke County Public Schools, the students have internships in the food and retail industry, at the City of Morganton, the J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center, an insurance agency and furniture company.

            Norton said those seeking honors credit for their internship – about 50 percent of the students – are required to complete a portfolio, keep a diary of reflections about their experiences and what they learned, and create a resume.

Burke County Public Schools 2017-18 Annual Public Notices

posted Jul 6, 2017, 10:38 AM by Melanie Honeycutt   [ updated Jul 13, 2017, 1:47 PM by Cheryl Shuffler ]

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