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

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 ]

Burke County Board of Education 2017-2018 Meeting Dates

posted Jun 28, 2017, 11:05 AM by Bcps Bcps

Burke Works connects teachers with workforce

posted Jun 27, 2017, 1:46 PM by Cheryl Shuffler


Burke County Public Schools hosted its first summer internship program for teachers the week of June 12. Called Burke Works, the program targeted Career and Technical Education (CTE) teachers and included tours of local manufacturing companies and discussions with local employers about today’s workforce needs.

For three days, 15 teachers, as well as the career development coordinators from each of the four high schools, loaded a bus in the morning and spent the day seeing for themselves what is manufactured in Burke County. They toured Manufactured Solutions, Continental, Opportunity Threads and Ekornes. They also toured and experienced a hands-on project at Western Piedmont Community College and toured Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge. The program concluded with a round-table discussion with area managers and human resource directors from Kellex and Valdese Weavers as well as a representative from NC Works.

Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam said, “There are high-paying jobs with great benefits and clean, healthy working environments right here in Burke County, and I am so excited that through Burke Works our teachers got to see that first hand. It is important that our teachers know what is made in Burke County and hear from workers and employers about what skills are needed to fill local jobs. While we are educating future doctors, lawyers and engineers, as a former employee of the furniture industry myself, we need to remember that we also are educating future plant managers, assembly line mechanics and sewing specialists who will work in Burke County and contribute to our local economy.”

The idea for Burke Works developed from Burke Partners in Education meetings, which are held once a month during the school year and involve Burke County Public Schools, the Chamber of Commerce, Burke Development Inc., Western Piedmont Community College, NC Works, Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge and WIOA.

Rexanna Lowman, director of Secondary Education and Career and Technical Education for Burke County Public Schools, said, “Many of our students and principals have had similar opportunities to visit businesses and industries in our community, and we felt it was important that our teachers be exposed to the same experience. I want to thank the Burke Partners in Education committee and especially Burke Development Inc., for making a generous financial donation to Burke Works to help make this idea a reality.”

Burke Development Inc., contributed $1,500 to the program. BDI president and CEO Alan Wood said, “This was a great opportunity for Burke County teachers to learn about our existing industry. The more our teachers can get out into these companies to see and explore them in person, the better prepared they are to share information with students about local job opportunities.”

            Here is what some of the teachers said about Burke Works:

Stephanie Eggers, business teacher, Draughn High School, said, “The CTE Internship Program was packed full of wonderful tours, industry leaders and invaluable time spent with our colleagues. I learned innovative ways industry is using to manufacture their products, the computer technology they require and the type of employee skills they require for employment.”

Kelley Lytle, health science teacher, Draughn High School, said, “I had no idea that several of those businesses even existed in Burke County. Some of the technology we were introduced to was mind boggling. We often hear that there are no jobs in Burke County and that simple isn't the case. However, the main message I took away from our tours was that while the skills we teach our students are extremely important it is just as important that we attempt to teach them to be productive, responsible, and positive members of a team. That's what the employers are looking for.”

Ed Hallyburton, business education teacher, East Burke High School, said, “I really enjoyed learning about SolidWorks and the hands-on project at Western Piedmont. I believe students will really enjoy and benefit from the technology used in the engineering department. The career opportunities available to students and the many exciting technological advancements being made in the area of textile and material development were very interesting. Capping off the week with an HR roundtable conversation discussing the role we as educators play in developing a skilled workforce was very beneficial. I have already begun utilizing the connections that were made.” 

Rosa Padgett, CTE teacher. East Burke High School, said, “It was exciting and amazing to see things going on in our community with technology, business, manufacturing and employment. We live in a great area and thank you to everyone that helped put together such a worthwhile adventure for teachers to explore things that help teachers connect education to the workforce.”

Donna Simmons, CTE teacher, Draughn High Schools, said, “I truly enjoyed the entire week. To see all the different businesses and the help for small businesses and entrepreneurs was nice to see and to know about.”


Photo: Burke County Public Schools CTE teachers talk with Molly Hemstreet at Opportunity Threads, a worker owned, cut and sew textile plant in Drexel.

Burke County Public Schools Board of Education Meeting

posted Jun 23, 2017, 12:23 PM by Melanie Honeycutt

Board of Education

Public Notice


Monday, June 26, 2017   12:00 PM


The Burke County Board of Education will meet on Monday, June 26, 2017 at 12:00 PM.  The meeting will be held in the Olive Hill Room at the Olive Hill Resource Center, 509 West Concord Street, Morganton, North Carolina 28655.  The agenda for the meeting is attached. 


Posted this 23rd day of June, 2017

BOE Profile: Seth P. Hunt Jr.

posted Jun 20, 2017, 5:42 AM by Cheryl Shuffler

Burke County Public Schools’ newest Board of Education member has occupied his seat for six months now and said it didn’t take him long to understand that this board puts students first.

The board appointed Seth P. Hunt Jr. in November to serve out the term of veteran board member Catherine Thomas. Thomas vacated her seat due to growing commitments outside of Burke County that pulled her away from her board duties.

Hunt said of his experience thus far on the board, “It has been more gratifying than I ever thought it would be. I get bored easily intellectually, but the things we deal with as board members hold my attention. It is most enjoyable to be a part of this board. While the board doesn’t agree on everything, every board member is focused on the education of our children.”

Hunt said he sought the vacant seat because of the impact public education had on his young life, and he wanted to make a difference in this generation of students. He said, “Serving on the board is something I really wanted to do, not just to do something nice, but to be a part of something that is good for our kids and Burke County. I wanted to be a part of a group that is making a positive difference in the lives of children.”

                  As a youngster growing up in Wilson County in eastern North Carolina, Hunt was the son of a school principal and teacher assistant. 

“I was an average student,” Hunt said. “I didn’t apply myself as I should have. Now, I want students to understand when they graduate from high school or a community college or university that their education is just beginning. It is so true that education is life long, and if you can master the basics, you can successfully navigate life.”

Hunt graduated from Saratoga Central High School and went on to get a degree in political science from Atlantic Christian College, which is now Barton  College. While his career paths took various turns throughout his life, the one constant has been his servant leadership. Hunt has been a sheriff’s deputy, an EMS dispatcher and a small town mayor. He also spent 15 years as the CEO of state institutions, the majority of which was at Broughton Hospital. He finished out his career as the special executive to the facility director at the J. Iverson Riddle Developmental Center. In 2015, the year Hunt retired, the state recognized his years of service with the N.C. Order of the Long Leaf Pine, a prestigious honor the governor awards.

Brougton Hospital brought Hunt to Burke County 23 years ago, and he now thinks of it as home. Hunt’s wife, Scarlett, recently retired as a teacher with Burke County Public Schools and their son, Prior, is a gradate of Patton High School and Appalachian State University and plans to attend law school. Hunt said he and his wife have enjoyed being involved in the community and feel blessed by it. He said, “We have had really good experiences with the school system with our son going through it and my wife working in it. I inherently knew serving on the school board was something that I wanted to be a part of.”

Hunt’s professional experience with education includes overseeing residential schools at the Longleaf Neuro-Medical Treatment Center, the North Carolina School for the Deaf and Broughton Hospital.

Hunt said his time in state government brings him valuable experience as a board of education member. He said, “I am a budget hawk. I believe that if you are going to change things for the better and make an impact, you have to know the system, otherwise you won’t accomplish anything, and you will be left frustrated. I know the bureaucracy of how things work.”

Hunt sees the role of the school board as a buffer between what is handed down from Raleigh into the classroom. His goal is to help find balance between teachers teaching the curriculum that is set for them and giving them the tools they need to do their job. He said, “I feel for teachers and how the pressures of testing and other measurements complicate the curriculum.”

He said, “I don’t want to be a blockade, but a mitigating force so teachers can actually teach. They know their jobs, and I want them to be able to do it. I am proud of our teachers and staff and all they do day in and day out to make our schools work. They provide for our children in an untold number of ways. There is no way to recognize everything they do as they do so much more than we see or hear about. They don’t do it because they want the accolades. They know the effect they are having on kids’ lives, just like the two to three teachers who had an impact on my life as I was growing up.”

Hunt wants teachers to enjoy a good work life balance. He said, “It’s not all about work, and it’s not all about play. You have to work hard, and I appreciate and understand that teachers put in so much time.”

                  Since Hunt joined the school board, he is most excited about being a part of finalizing the plans to build the new Mountain View Elementary School. He said, “I drive by there two to three times a week. It is thrilling to see it come about and to know what it is going to be and to know I’m a part of it.”

Looking ahead, Hunt said he is equally excited about the direction Morganton and Burke County are headed in. “I am looking forward to the growth of our school system overall as Burke County grows. There are exciting things getting ready to burst, and this is an exciting time to live in Burke County.”

Board of Education Meeting on Monday June 12, 2017

posted Jun 9, 2017, 2:23 PM by Melanie Honeycutt

The Burke County Board of Education will meet on Monday June 12, 2017 at 6pm. The meeting will be held in the Olive Hill Room at the Olive Hill Resource Center at 509 West Concord Street.  The agenda is attached.

LMS students make their own fidget spinners

posted May 31, 2017, 10:51 AM by Cheryl Shuffler

Students at Liberty Middle School are getting into the latest fad: fidget spinners. But instead of just fidgeting with and endlessly spinning these hand-held toys, the students are actually incorporating hands-on learning to make them. Liberty Project Lead the Way teacher Clay Nelson said he decided to design his own version of the fidget spinner and recruit students to help assemble them.

He said, “I saw that these fidget spinners were catching on at school, and I wanted to ride the wave while it was still here and make some money for my club while I had the ability to.” 

A fidget spinner is three-pronged device with a ball bearing in the center. Nelson explains how it works, “The person using the spinner needs to put their thumb and index finger, or middle finger on the either side of the middle part of the spinner, the ball bearing part. Once the arms are free from obstruction, the spinner will freely spin for a duration once pushed, some I've heard can go up to three minutes of spin time.”

Nelson’s students are printing the spinners on a 3D printer, cleaning them up, assembling the bearings and performing quality control on each one by testing them to make sure they work.

“It takes about two to three hours to print each spinner,” Nelson said. “Once they are done printing, they are slightly rough and the pieces don't always perfectly fit into the holes created by the printer due to conversions. The students sand these down by hand, knocking any burs and blemishes down. After this, they place the middle bearing in, plus three individually cut pieces of steel, which were cut from cold rolled steel into the spinner frame. The only part of this which is ordered is the bearing; only one goes into each spinner.”

Liberty’s student-made spinners were available for sell at Friday night’s TGIF special “Family Night” concert in downtown Morganton with the proceeds going back into to the Liberty Technology Student Association to help create more cool stuff.

Burke County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam started the push with 3D printers four years ago and now they are scattered throughout the district. Putnam is always looking for the next new. He said, “Currently, we are waiting on the new WAZER, which is a water laser jet, and the Glowforge 3D printer, which also is a laser printer.”

As for the fidget spinners, they were initially created for people with attention deficit disorders, autism or anxiety and just this year have gained popularity in schools. Some say the fidgeting helps release nervous energy and relieve stress. Nelson said, “My dad asked me what it was, and I told him that it was pretty much the equivalent of tapping your foot, but it's in your hands.” Some schools across the country have deemed the spinners a distraction and banned them. Others, like Liberty, are turning them into lessons in physics, inertia and entrepreneurship.

Nelson said, “I know there is a lot of controversy with these spinners being in school, and people can say what they want about them, but I truly believe that these toys have sparked an ingenuity in students that we have not seen in the recent past. Students are coming to my room with their own homemade spinners, trying to fix them and also wanting to create different designs. I can't remember the last time I've seen a vast majority of students tinkering, taking things apart and putting them back together. This spinner fad is, in this regard, giving students a great outlet to finally express their creativity with their hands. I absolutely love it.”

Board of Education Public Notice

posted May 19, 2017, 1:54 PM by Melanie Honeycutt

The Burke County Board of Education will meet on Monday, May 22, 2017 at 6:00 PM.  The meeting will be held in the Olive Hill Room at the Olive Hill Resource Center, 509 West Concord Street, Morganton, North Carolina 28655.  The agenda for the meeting is below.  

Posted this 19th day of May, 2017

Sunrise readers form club at Forest Hill Elementary

posted May 17, 2017, 5:53 AM by Cheryl Shuffler

Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning at Forest Hill Elementary School you’ll find a group of students who enjoy arriving at school early to read together. English Language Learners teacher Wendy Hammerstone sponsors the FHES Sunrise Readers club, which got its start at the school 10 years ago. The club continues to grow as students learn about it through word of mouth. Interested students arrive at school at 7:30 a.m. three mornings a week, and reading mentors are matched with reading mentees who need a little extra help mastering the skill. The mentee picks the book to read and the two students read it together. Principal Sara LeCroy said, “The students love the program and consider it a privilege to be a part of it. Many students who were once mentees are now mentors. The mentors say they learn about responsibility, helping other students learn to read, and making new friends. The students take it very seriously and are very committed to the program. It is a beautiful thing.”

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