Eric Cunningham

WOW! Can you believe that we have been on this COVID journey for 10 months?

As we approach the end of the year I would like to give a big shout out to everyone in Halifax County for your tremendous support and participation in providing an innovative approach to educating our students via virtual learning.

On Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese planes attacked us at Pearl Harbor. President Franklin Roosevelt called the date “a day which will live in infamy.” As a young child, I loved watching movies about World War II with my father and one of my favorites was “Tora! Tora! Tora!” I remember vividly, the scene in the movie in which Naval Marshal General Isoroku Yamamoto said after the attack, “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” The rest is history.

When I look at this pandemic, I get a sense of that reference. COVID-19 attacked and the US woke up and now we are rolling out a vaccine that will save countless lives. The national leadership has also moved us to work together and build better relationships locally. In Halifax County Schools we are aligned to this national value. We preach every day: “If you fall down, get up and strive for five in everything you do.” Here are some experiences of resiliency, perseverance and triumph from a few of our outstanding teachers.

India Johnson, our beginning teacher of the year from Northwest Collegiate and Technical Academy, shared that during this virtual learning experience she has held private one-on-one sessions, sent personalized birthday cards and utilized social media (FaceTime). Even though she is not physically with her students this semester, she has formed new relationships and has learned that without a relationship with the student, no learning will take place. Once she demonstrated a caring attitude her relationships with her students soared.

Over at Enfield Middle STEAM Academy, sixth-grade teacher Tashaunna Hughes wondered how she was going to succeed and help her students be successful as well as close gaps. She openly admits feeling defeated and lost because she didn’t understand how she could connect and build relationships with students. After the first two weeks, things started to turn around for the better. She started to have a new outlook and tried to make contact with students who weren’t attending classes. For students who were attending class regularly, they received positive phone calls home. This approach built positive relationships. Delivering content and making content interactive became her main goal. While virtual learning is not ideal, she has found it to be improving day by day. She has witnessed the joy in her students’ faces when they are doing an activity during class that is interactive.

At Inborden Elementary STEAM Academy, Mr. Collier has learned that he is a problem solver and creative thinker. He has to be innovative in building relationships with students. In STEM, he has created some “do it yourself” projects that students enjoy and can do without much help. The STEM in the Park was a special activity because it was the first time he saw students face-to-face. It has truly been a way for him to learn from them as well as them learning from him.

I am extremely grateful for the Halifax County Schools family. As we approach the end of the year 2020, we all have sharable memories. Please take a moment to reflect and consider how we have grown together.

Season’s greetings to you and your family! I wish you peace, health, happiness and prosperity in the New Year!

Eric Cunningham is the superintendent of Halifax County Schools.

Eric Cunningham is the superintendent of Halifax County Schools.