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Mayor fields tough/adorable questions at Fox Road Elementary

One of the characteristics of an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme student is inquisitiveness.

That was on full display Friday morning at Fox Road IB Magnet School, as more than 100 second-graders peppered Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane with questions about everything from her salary to what her office looks like.

What follows is an abridged transcript of the spirited press conference:

Lots of hands raised meant lots of questions for Mayor Nancy McFarlane at Fox Road Magnet Elementary.

Lots of hands raised meant lots of questions for Mayor Nancy McFarlane at Fox Road Magnet Elementary.

Q: Do you like being the mayor?

A: I like it most of the time. There are some times I don’t like it.

Q: How smart do you have to be to be mayor?

A: Well, that’s up for debate. [grown-up laughter] It helps to be smart. But it’s hard to know everything about everything. I try to learn as much as I can. For the things I don’t know, I go ask the people who do.

Q: Do you have to be focused?

A: Yes, you do. I have to focus not only on how things are today, but also how they will be in 10 years or 20 years. I want to make sure that when you grow up, you will want to live here and that you will think Raleigh is still a nice place to live.

Q: How many laws can you make in a day?

A: Well, we have meetings at 1 o’clock and then another one at 7 o’clock. How many can we pass in that time? There’s no limit. We can pass as many as we want.

Q: Do you run the stores?

A: No, I don’t. The city has inspectors that make sure, when a store opens, that it’s safe. And sometimes we work with stores to try to bring them to Raleigh.

McKenzie Cotterman (foreground) listens as classmate Janaiah Anderson asks Mayor McFarlane a question.

McKenzie Cotterman (foreground) listens as classmate Janaiah Anderson asks Mayor McFarlane a question.

Q: What time do you have to get up?

A: It’s different every day. Today I woke up at 6:30.

Q: Have you ever gotten mad?

A: Oh yeah.

Q: What does your office look like?

A: Well I have a desk, and a big table for meetings. And I have a big picture of a counselor at the YMCA laughing and playing with a bunch of kids. That’s my daughter.

Q: What happens if you don’t do your job?

A: Then things at the city don’t run very well.

Q: Are you the president’s boss?

A: No, but I have met him a few times.

Q: Is anyone the boss of you?

A: Yes, the 420,000 people in Raleigh are the boss of me.

Q: How much money do you make?

A: Well, I just got a raise, so I now make $15,000 a year.

Students, in their only break from press-scrum objectivity: Whoaaa!

Mayor McFarlane with Fox Road teachers and staff.

Mayor McFarlane with Fox Road teachers and staff.


About Fox Road Magnet Elementary School

Fox Road transitioned from a traditional elementary to an International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme magnet in the 2013-14 school year.

In the IB Programme, students are encouraged to be inquisitive, working with their teacher and their peers to get answers. “The teacher is the facilitator rather than the fountain of knowledge,” says Anne Waechter, magnet coordinator at Fox Road. “They’re exploring learning rather than memorizing information.” (Click here to learn more about the IB Learner Profile.)

Walk into a Fox Road classroom and you’re likely to find students huddled in small groups, often with iPads at the ready, working on a project that ties in with both IB themes and core subjects.

Fox Road students have embraced the attributes of an IB learner with gusto. They understand the meaning of words like principled, inquirer and knowledgeable, and they demonstrate these attributes on a daily basis to turn their learning into action to better our world. “They’ve mastered and become a part of their own learning,” Waechter says. “They’re in the driver’s seat, and therefore more engaged.”

One sign of that is the fact that behavioral incidents have decreased sharply since the IB Programme was implemented, Waechter says.

There are six transdisciplinary themes in IB:

  • Who we are
  • Where we are in place and time
  • How we organize ourselves
  • How we express ourselves
  • Sharing the planet
  • How the world works

Those themes shape how core subjects such as math, science, language, social studies and the arts are taught.

Mayor McFarlane’s visit jibed with several of those themes, as she met with second-graders engaged in a government services unit.

Parents who wish to schedule a tour or ask questions can contact Waechter at 919-850-8859 or by email at An open house is slated for Jan. 7.



Mark your calendars: Magnet mini-fairs coming in December

If you missed Saturday’s magnet fair, you have two more opportunities to learn about all magnet elementary schools.
Magnet Mini-Fairs for rising Kindergarten families will be held on Dec. 2 at Millbrook Magnet Elementary and on Dec. 9 at Farmington Woods Magnet Elementary.
Both sessions are from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Each magnet elementary program will be represented by parents and staff from the school.
Click HERE to learn more about all magnet programs and other recruitment events.
P.S. A reminder to parents of prospective Early College school applicants: The application period lasts only until Dec. 1 and requires an essay. Click HERE for more information about those programs and how to apply.


Board appoints new principals, administrators at November 4 meeting

The Board of Education approved the following staff appointments at its November 4 meeting:

  • Paula DeLucca, New WCPSS Applicant, has been named Senior Director for Child Nutrition Services
  • Carter Hillman, Principal of East Wake School of Health Science, has been named Principal of Garner High School
  • Anne Marie Adkins, Principal of Yates Mill Elementary School, has been named Principal of West Lake Middle School
  • Thomas Dixon, Retiree,  has been named Interim Principal of Apex Middle School through December
  • H. Allen Ellzey, Principal of Salem Middle School, has been named Principal of Apex Middle School, effective January 2015
  • Vicki Perry, Retiree, has been named Interim Principal at Timber Drive Elementary School
  • Amanda Boshoff, Teacher at Cary High School, has been named Assistant Principal at Cary High School
  • Craig T. Matthews, Retiree, has been named Interim Assistant Principal at Leesville Road Middle School
  • Laura Brown, Assistant Principal at Davis Drive Middle School, has been named Assistant Principal at Green Hope High School
  • Monte Moss, Teacher at Baucom Elementary School, has been named Assistant Principal at Barwell Road Elementary School

Please note – This list includes new appointments. The board also may have approved contract extensions or modifications to current contracts for employees to continue serving in their current roles.

Board Reviews 2015-16 Enrollment Proposal

The Wake County Board of Education reviewed the third draft of a student enrollment proposal Tuesday for the 2015-2016 school year.

No more than 2,734 students would be affected by the current draft – less than 2 percent of the system’s overall student enrollment.

A little less than half of the students involved in the plan would attend one of three new schools opening next year: Abbotts Creek Elementary, Scotts Ridge Elementary and Apex Friendship High School.

The remaining students – less than 1,600 – were included in the plan to help align school calendars across grade spans, reduce the assignment of neighborhoods to multiple schools or reduce overcrowding. These students can choose to remain at their current schools if they provide their own transportation.

At its work session Tuesday, board members supported pulling a proposal that would have moved some students from the Enloe High School base assignment area to that of Southeast Raleigh High School. Board and staff members will work in coming months to devise a strategy for reducing overcrowding at Enloe while ensuring appropriate support for Southeast Raleigh.

The third draft of the plan reflects changes made in response to parent concerns shared online at and in a series of public meetings. The site has drawn more than 17,000 visitors and about 2,200 comments since launching in August. A link to the Draft 3 presentation can be found here.

Click here to find out if your address is part of the draft.

School board members will hold a public hearing Nov. 18 and discuss the enrollment proposal at a Nov. 25 work session. The board is expected to vote on the final plan at its Dec. 2 meeting.

Board members will continue to monitor comments made in the online forum throughout the process. New discussion topics were posted today following the presentation of the third draft.

The WCPSS staff and board have been pleased with the level of public engagement in developing this proposal and look forward to continued input and support from parents as the plan is completed.

Learning about careers is STEMtastic!

It’s time for some Wake NC State STEM Early College High School students to suit up for the big leagues. In the working world, that is.

On Thursday, Nov. 6, 80 students from the STEM high school will report to work. They will be career/job shadowing at 22 leading businesses in Raleigh and Research Triangle Park.

Professionals in the participating businesses have volunteered to show students the ropes in a vast array of career areas that  include IT labs, “clean” labs, improved transportation, energy and sustainability projects, engineering and architectural design, clean food sources, courtroom battles, recreational facilities, and even educating future STEM students.  The shadowing activities are designed to bring alive what students have learned in class around the Engineering Design Process, 21st Century skills and project-based learning.

Host businesses include: CISCO, SAS, NC Department of Transportation, WebAssign, Dewberry Engineering, Lord Corporation, Nuvotronics, McKim & Creed Engineering, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), KPIT, Raleigh Police Department, Red Hat, EMC^2, The American Cancer Society, Poyner & Spruill Law Office, NCSU DELTA, NCSU Recreation & Sports Facility Management, Carolina Partners Psychiatry, Stough Elementary School, Boulton Bread Bakery, and Lumina Clothing.

Career/job shadowing is a work-based learning career development strategy for preparing students to graduate fully prepared for college or the work force.

For more information, contact Career Development Coordinator Linda Brannan, For more info on the Wake STEM high school visit the school’s website,

New parent’s guide to testing at WCPSS

Testing is just one tool that schools use to measure how well students understand and apply what they learn in class. WCPSS uses a variety of tests and assessments to track student growth, including multiple- choice tests, performance tests and essays. Some are required locally, while others are required by the North Carolina and United States governments.

To help parents better understand what tests are required and how they support student achievement, WCPSS has developed this guide to tests and assessments.

Download the guide >

Five new magnets in 2015

Two schools will return to magnet status and three more will become magnets next school year, the WCPSS school board decided Tuesday evening.

Broughton High School and Daniels Middle School will be remagnetized. They were made traditional schools in 2008. Hodge Road, Jeffreys Grove and Stough elementary schools will become magnets.

The five schools will create a K-12 language immersion/global studies magnet pathway. Jeffreys Grove now offers a full immersion program in Spanish, Stough offers Chinese full immersion and Hodge Road has a dual-language Spanish immersion program. Making those schools magnets will open those options to students across the district.

The move will cost $180,959.

Learn more about these and all other magnet school options in the district on Saturday, Nov. 1 at the Magnet and Early College Fair, from 9 a.m. to noon at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School.



Inspiring STEM Students

Ed Summers was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a degenerative eye disease, in 1981 at the age of 10. He tried to hide his condition over the next 20 years, even as his vision continued to deteriorate.

“Throughout this period, I became increasingly ashamed and self-conscious,” Summers told a group of 6-12 graders Wednesday at the STEM Career Showcase for Students with Disabilities.  “As my vision decreased, my world got smaller.”

At age 30, he could no longer read print. To save his career and his marriage, “I had to accept the fact that I was going blind. I couldn’t hide it anymore. I had to find a way to adapt. I fought that decision tooth and nail for 20 years. But the root of the problem was not my failing vision. The problem was between my ears.  I equated blindness with failure. Yet failure is defined as refusing to acknowledge reality.”

So he looked to other successful people with visual impairments for inspiration.

“I knew if they could do it, I could do it,” Summers said. “I started spending less time worrying, and more time doing.”

Summers is now senior manager of accessibility and applied assistive technology at SAS. He shared his story at the STEM Showcase, which encourages students with disabilities to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Watch the full video HERE.

Sanderson High School Closing Early Due to Power Outage

Sanderson High School will release students early today due to a power outage.

The school will be sending students home at 12:30 p.m. today.

Please note that a tree is blocking Dixon Drive. The only access to the school is North Hills Drive.

School buses will provide transportation home for students who ride by bus and parents will be able to pick up their children for rides out as usual.

School staff will stay with students at school until arrangements have been made for each child to get home.

Repairs should be completed today and school will resume its usual schedule tomorrow.

WCPSS ‘STANDS UP and SPEAKS OUT’ Against Bullying in October

There’s just nothing cool about bullying. The Wake County Public School System has fully embraced this stance and is taking meaningful action to protect students from being either victims or perpetrators.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and the WCPSS Counseling and Student Services team has crafted an extensive array of activities and information points for students, parents, teachers and counselors across the district. The goal: to empower young people to stand up and speak out against bullying.

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