In the News...
Charlotte student earns $280K scholarship to Duke
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by Mark Barber of WSOC TV | "I'm just overwhelmed,” Clinkscales said. “I can't believe I won and I'm really grateful and thankful for this opportunity.”
Clinkscales’ success as a student was so outstanding she managed to catch the eye of admissions administrators at Duke.
"I had to study really hard, take a lot of AP classes,” she said. “I'm president of three clubs. I had to volunteer outside school.”
After she got on Duke's list of candidates, Clinkscales had to impress the school during a weeklong interview.
Hundreds of other students from the Carolinas also made that final cut, but Clinkscales is just 1 of 11 students to win the scholarship worth $280,000.
"I'm just really, really grateful and thankful for this opportunity,” Clinkscales said. “I just think it's such a blessing."
The 18-year-old plans to major in biology and return to Charlotte as a pediatrician.
She wants to help kids because she overcame a lot herself.
"There's always financial struggles growing up, but I feel like for my family it's something that can help us in the next generation," Clinkscales said.
Clinkscales said she isn't focusing on her career as much as she's planning for her future family.
Duke lets the children of many alumni attend the school, so Clinkscales said whenever she has kids of her own, the scholarship will set the stage for their success, too.
"It's all about who follows in our footsteps and who comes next," Clinkscales said.
When it comes to finding the way to put a day like this to words, it took Clinkscales a moment to sum up the opportunity.
"I (am) just grateful, passionate, overwhelming,” she said. “I (am) just, amazing, that's what this is, amazing."
Clinkscales starts school in August.
She has to maintain a 3.2-grade point average to keep the scholarship, and remain involved in the community.
HOSA hosts "Senior Prom" for local retirement community
Charlotte, NC - Phillip O. Berry HOSA students hosted their annual ‘Senior Prom’ at the PEAK Resources Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center last Friday, April 27. The ‘Senior Prom’ is a HOSA annual tradition in which members explore careers in long term care and give back to the community through their interactions with the residents.
This year’s theme was “Hawaiian Luau.” HOSA members decorated the room in the style of a luau, made sure each resident had a flower lei, talked & interacted with residents, and held games for participants. Students performed a hula for residents, donning grass skirts for the occasion. In particular, HOSA member, Kara Adams, also sang for residents. In speaking with the residents, students learned more about Charlotte’s history.
HOSA is advised by Mrs. Angela Johnson, Ms. Samantha Petty, and Ms. Erika Williams.
Berry Sophomore presents idea to Wells Fargo team
Charlotte, NC - Berry sophomore, Sanskriti Deva, presented her idea, "The Smart Can," to the Wells Fargo supply chain management group on Earth Day, April 19th. Sanskriti has been developing this idea since last year as part of the “Girls on Fire” competition in which she won First Place. The competition is hosted by non-profit organization, TWIN.
The meeting with Wells Fargo was in effort of seeking support and guidance from industry experts to make her innovative idea a reality. Her school adviser and Career Development Coordinator, Ms. Deepal Patel, remarked that she is “extremely proud of [Sanskriti]” and wishes more Berry Cardinals would pursue opportunities like this outside of school.
POB senior wins regional award
Charlotte, NC | Congratulations to Phillip O. Berry senior, Vietfu Tang, recipient of the 2018 Blue Diamond Award in the “Student Innovator” category. The award is presented to a student who has “created new and innovative technology or has demonstrated the innovative use of existing technology to drive value.”
The Blue Diamond Awards Celebration is the Charlotte region’s premier technology awards event and is sponsored by the Charlotte Area Technology Collaborative (CATC). CATC’s mission is to strengthen the region’s economic development by connecting businesses, education and organizations to promote and grow a diverse technology talent pipeline.
Vietfu was joined by Phillip O. Berry teacher, Mr. Leonard Small (CTE), and Ms. Kennedy for the awards ceremony held on Tuesday, April 10th at the Knight Theater.
Through the lens of Gen Z | CMS students participate in Adobe Summit
Las Vegas, NV - Eleven Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students in the career and technology education marketing program participated in the Adobe Summit, a worldwide event for digital marketers and advertisers. This year, for the first time, organizers permitted a small group of students under 21 to attend. Four seniors from CMS traveled to Las Vegas and six others participated virtually from Charlotte.
"It makes me feel so important that Adobe cares about my generation," said Avery Primis, a Myers Park High senior. "My age group usually is looked down upon and that is something that I strive to change every day of my life through service and being a positive influence."
Through the partnership between CMS and Sports Media Challenge, a reputation management company and social media-consulting firm, the students created a WeRGenZ team to inform industry leaders about the power and influence their generation offers. With an estimated $44 billion in purchasing power and influence over another $600 billion, Gen Z's presence on social media is changing the advertising and retail landscapes.
The program teaches students about the latest marketing, technology and advertising practices. Participation in the Adobe Summit was intended to teach students how to actively listen to experts and speak to them via social media and in-person, while informing them and others of their economic impact.
"Our goal is to provide top brands with a better understanding of our generation, which we believe is commonly misunderstood, in order for them to connect to us more," said Damien Watson, Jr., a Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology senior. "I am interested in learning more about artificial intelligence and what companies have in mind for this technology."
The three-day summit offers sessions and labs on latest strategies for building campaigns, managing advertising and gaining data insights. Participants can choose from more than 250 sessions and hands-on labs across seven tracks.
In Charlotte, students at the command center contributed to the social media conversations and watched live streams from the event. They also Facetimed with their peers at the summit to exchange information and ideas.
"I learned important things like how to properly target an audience and interact with them through social media," said Marco Garcia, a junior at Phillip O. Berry. "I worked on many designs and posts to attract the attention of top influencers from around the country."
Trent Couse, a junior at William A. Hough High, is the data analytics intern for the WeRGenZ team. He and the other students periodically reviewed their posts' analytics to figure out which ones had the most reach, the number of people who see the content; impressions, the number of times the content is displayed; and engagement, the number of interactions people have with the content such as likes, comments, shares or retweets.
"Timing is important for engagement purposes," said Trent. "So far our most successful posts have been the ones in which we have used tags and photos from the command center."
The students who participated were:
- Alana Jones, junior, Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology
- Ashley Dickenson, sophomore, Hopewell High
- Avery Primis, senior, Myers Park High
- Damien Watson, Jr., senior, Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology
- Harmoni Riggins, sophomore, Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology
- Jogle De Leon, senior, Garinger High
- John K. Bell, junior, Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology
- Marco Garcia, junior, Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology
- Nina Merritt, eighth-grader, Piedmont IB Middle
- Patricia Garcia, sophomore, Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology
- Trent Couse, junior, William A. Hough High
*article originally published by CMS via CMS Employee Intranet, 3/29/18
Students Attend "SAS - The Power to Know" Workshop
Cary, NC – Most people do not normally want to hear “SAS” from children; however, that is not the case when it comes to computer programming. SAS, statistical analysis system, is one of the most widely used languages in businesses worldwide today. The course is taught currently in only two CMS schools, and SAS professionals are widely sought after especially in finance organizations.
Nineteen Berry scholars and instructor, Mr. Romano attended the Discover, Lead, Solve - Giving Students the Power to Know workshop at the SAS World Headquarters in Cary, NC on Thursday, March 15th. Students interacted with SAS professionals, programmed “spheros,” and learned how computer science has changed society. The head of research and development, Dr. Stuart Nisbet, spoke with scholars about the confidence necessary to put in the time to be successful. SAS speakers also emphasized three essentials for success: critical thinking, good character, and communication.
POB Student selected by NCWIT for award
Charlotte, NC - The 2018 Charlotte Metropolitan and Piedmont Triad Affiliate Winner of the National Center for Women in Technology (NCWIT) Award for Aspirations in Computing is POB sophomore, Sanskriti D. NCWIT selected Sanskriti for her computing-related aspirations and achievements, leadership ability, academic performance, and future plans.
NCWIT is an active and supportive group of over 10,000 technical women. NCWIT Aspirations in Computing (AiC) provides technical girls and women with ongoing engagement, visibility, and encouragement for their computing-related interests and achievements. Sanskriti is a tenth grade scholar enrolled in the Academy of Engineering (AoE). Sanskriti joins the growing list of NCWIT winners from Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology. Congratulations Sanskriti!
Phillip O. Berry one of twenty-one CMS schools recognized by Magnet Schools of America nationally
Charlotte, NC - Twenty-one magnets in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools have won national recognition for their specialized programs. Eight schools earned the highest designation as a School of Excellence from the national organization Magnet Schools of America. Thirteen others were named Schools of Distinction.
"Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is proud to offer such a wide range of specialized programs to meet the needs of our students," said Dr. Clayton Wilcox, superintendent. "We are honored to have so many of our magnet schools receive national recognition from the Magnet Schools of America. These schools are part of our commitment to diversity and helping our students prepare for a 21st-century workplace."
The awards, given each year, go to schools that show a strong commitment to academic standards, demonstrate curriculum innovation and have diversity in enrollment.
In addition to academics, curriculum and diversity, the schools are also judged on community partnerships and parent involvement. To be considered, a school must submit a detailed application, which is scored by a panel of educators.
The eight schools winning the School of Excellence award were Cotswold IB World School, E.E. Waddell Language Academy, First Ward Creative Arts Academy, Highland Mill Montessori, J.M Alexander Middle, Oaklawn Language Academy, Piedmont Middle School and Shamrock Gardens Elementary.
The 13 schools recognized as a School of Distinction were Chantilly Montessori, East Mecklenburg High, Huntingtowne Farms Elementary, Idlewild Elementary (which was named the best magnet elementary school in America in 2017), Irwin Academic Center, John Motley Morehead STEM Academy, Kennedy Middle, Mallard Creek Elementary, North Mecklenburg High, Northwest School of the Arts, Oakhurst STEAM Academy, Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology and Randolph Middle.
The schools will be formally recognized as winners during an awards ceremony at Magnet Schools of America's annual national conference in Chicago in late April.
*article originally published by CMS via CMS Employee Intranet, 3/01/18
Phillip O. Berry faculty featured in regional newscast
Charlotte, NC - WBTV's Kristen Hampton reported on Mr. Vincent Mitchell's efforts to brighten up the days of CMS faculty and staff following the recent incident of extreme violence in Florida. Several Phillip O. Berry faculty were featured including Ms. Ullah, Ms. Codio, Ms. Sickles, and Ms. Frierson.
Click HERE to view the newscast.
Two Phillip O. Berry students create award-winning apps
Cardinals' Nest - Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology sophomore Sanskriti Deva and senior Vietfu Tang are proof that competition can lead to ingenuity. Two competitions led them to build award-winning apps that meet everyday needs.
Phillip O. Berry is a district-wide magnet high school that offers curriculum in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). The school's technical offerings provide career pathways in three academies: engineering, information technology and health ccience. Sanskriti is in the engineering track while Vietfu chose information technology.
Sanskriti is a member of the Silcone Valley Young Coder's Club, an initiative formed by Charlotte Council member Dimple Ajmera. In December, Sanskriti led a team, which competed against students from across the country in the annual Silicon Valley Shark Tank, a business plan-pitching competition. She developed the MyFood app to scan and show what is in food through 3-D image processing. The app can scan barcodes and provide information about likely allergens. Her app and business model won first place in the state and nation.
"It was a wonderful experience. I had the opportunity to meet leaders from Facebook, Google and Tesla," she said. "Venture capitalists from Silicon Valley are looking to invest in my app so I can build the prototype. That's really exciting!"
Vietfu's Alacrity, which is available in the Google play store, is a natural disaster-preparation app. He entered the app in the annual Lenovo Scholar Network National Mobile App Development Competition winning first place. The app features an alert indicator of nearby weather alerts, a live map of current severe weather in the U.S., an offline set of disaster guides, a notification system that allows users to send their locations and messages instantly to emergency contacts and a checklist to prepare a basic emergency disaster kit.
"Creating the app allowed me to do what I do best — breaking down a problem and finding the solution," he said.
Both students spent a combined 150 hours developing their concepts.
"I learned it takes a lot of planning and dedication to go through the development process," said Vietfu. "My first hurdle was developing the user interface. My goal was to make it clean and easy to use but determining the colors and layout was difficult. Continuous trial and error got me to my goal."
Sanskriti has wanted a career in the technology field since elementary school. In eighth grade, she had an award-winning science fair project that proved mathematically that future time travel was possible. Recently, Nobel Prize winner John C. Mather invited her to join the National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists.
"My dream is to be a chief executive officer of a Fortune 500 company that creates tech-based solutions that would solve world problems," she said.
Computers have always fascinated Vietfu. Alacrity is the third app he has created during his time at the school. He plans to have a career as a software developer.
"My parents got me my first computer when I was in fifth grade. I infected it with viruses so I could test antiviruses and see which worked best," he said. "All the things I've learned on my own and at school will help me pursue greater projects in the future.
*article originally published by CMS via CMS Employee Intranet, 2/26/18
Makerspace Comes to POB
Cardinals’ Nest - On Friday, February 16th, students were invited to the media center during lunch to participate in our first "Maker Friday." During the Maker Friday event, the West Boulevard Branch of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library brought their mobile Multimedia Makerspace for students to explore. Makerspaces are collaborative environments where students can work creatively on projects of interest, and participation in these type of environments can help students hone problem-solving, critical-thinking, and communication skills.
Students were able to create stop-motion videos, produce music using editing software, and design Google logos using the Scratch Programming language. Ms. Ullah, Phillip O. Berry’s Instructional Technology Facilitator, remarked that she is “…looking forward to continuing this monthly event for the remainder of the semester.”
HOSA Hosts Blood Drive
Cardinals' Nest - On Monday, February 5, the Phillip O. Berry chapter of HOSA - Future Health Professionals sponsored its first blood drive of the year. HOSA partners with the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas (CBCC) annually to host blood drives. Student members were responsible for recruiting donors, checking donors in, and providing them with nourishment both before and after providing their blood donations.
In total, Phillip O. Berry collected 55 units of blood, surpassing HOSA’s initial goal of 48. The blood collected will impact 165 lives in the area, much of which will go to cancer patients, the number one recipient of blood transfusions. HOSA executive officers include president, Kelsey McDowell, and vice president, Patrick Bautista. HOSA is advised by Ms. E. Williams, Ms. Petty, and Ms. Johnson.
POB Aspiring Engineers Tour Pfaff
Charlotte, NC – On Thursday, November 16, Ms. Patel escorted twelve Academy of Engineering (AoE) students to Pfaff Molds on Westhall Dr. The field trip focused on mechatronics engineering. Pfaff associates toured students around their facilities, relayed information about different career opportunities through their apprenticeship program, and spoke to the students about various segments of mechatronics engineering. As a result of the trip, four Berry seniors plan to apply for the Apprenticeship 2000 program to further their dreams of a career in engineering.
Ms. Patel, Berry’s career development coordinator, expressed her sincerest “gratitude to Pfaff Molds and Chiron.”
National Technical Honors Society Induction Ceremony
Cardinals' Nest – On Wednesday, November 15th, 32 Phillip O. Berry students were newly inducted into the National Technical Honors Society. The goal of the honors society is recognize students who have excelled in career and technical education and to provide encouragement towards a path of continued success.
To be considered for induction, students must have achieved the following:
- junior or senior in high school
- nomination by a career and technical education (CTE) teacher for exhibiting the seven attributes of NTHS: skills, honesty, service, responsibility, scholarship, citizenship and leadership
- successful completion of at least one CTE course and an A in all their academy classes
- minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.5
- passing grades in all subjects as reflected on their transcript
NTHS members meet once a month to plan service and academic activities throughout the school year.
Congratulations to the newly inducted NTHS members from the Academies of Engineering (AoE), Health Science (AoHS), and Information Technology (AoIT) listed below.
Aaron L., Abel V., Alexis C., Alina M., Anh T., Ashley B., Camryn J., David P., Destiny H., Enrique G., George A., Hadiya S., Helen C., Jamarious M., Janasia D., Jessica G., Kara A., Kathy L., Kelsey M., LaSharah B., Lisa L., Madison L., Marco I., Melia M., Myat W., Nehemias G., Samuel R., Shaniah H., Taylor R., Vietfu T., Xavier B., Zoe K.
Fall Career Exploration Fair Kicks off National Career Development Month
Cardinals’ Nest – On Tuesday, November 2, POB’s Career Development and AVID teams kicked off National Career Development Month with a Fall Career Exploration Fair for Berry scholars. Around 225 students from AVID, and the Academies of Engineering (AOE), Health Science (AOHS), and Information Technology (AOIT) participated in the career exploration activity. Lower 100 hall English and art classrooms transformed into career explorations labs as student groups rotated to speak to different industry professionals and career mentors. Participants furthered their career aspirations by learning about the following:
- available professions after college
- aspects of work related to different professions
- strategies to pursue different professions and available resources
- opportunities and challenges associated with those professions
Ms. Patel remarked that Phillip O. Berry staff and students were “grateful for the humble volunteers from these organizations who gave back to our school at this event.”
Additional thanks go out to the following organizations: Charlotte PEEP Program, Sabrina Brown Realty & Advisory Services, Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont, TechLearningCloud.com, PNC Bank, Carowinds, Berry PTSA, Funding Futures USA, Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, Urban League of the Central Carolinas, the Crown Jewels Chapter of The Links, Inc, JP Consulting and GEMZ, Northpoint Bank, the Pfaff Molds/APP2000 program, the Law Offices of Derek Crawford, Greater Life Chiropractic, Wells Fargo, Job Corps/Fair career training, the Art Institute of Charlotte, the NC Army National Guard, and Cisco Inc.
POB Engineering Class Adopted by EngiLinks Program
Cardinals’ Nest - The Crown Jewels Chapter of The Links, Inc. has adopted Ms. Erika Williams’ Environmental Sustainability Class (Block 4B) and will host the EngiLinks program throughout the year for its students. The EngiLinks program seeks to promote engineering and college readiness among ninth graders. Programming includes service projects, visits to engineering sites, college fairs, and social events.
Representatives first visited POB Saturday, October 28, and included Ms. Lizzie Williams, Engi-Links coordinator and Phillip O. Berry NAF Advisory Board member, two Westinghouse engineers, Ms. Cynthia Bryant and Ms. Tiffani Teachey, and Ms. Jacqui McWilliams, CIAA commissioner. Ms. L. Williams is a former CMS administrator and school counselor whom substitutes and volunteers at the school, and Ms. Bryant also volunteers for POB as a NAF Advisory Board member.
The focus for the day was “college awareness,” particularly with those colleges and universities that offer engineering programs for undergraduate students. North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University was highlighted for its efforts to graduate more Black engineers in the country than any other college. Participants also planned a community service project in conjunction with Samaritan’s Feet, a local charitable organization.
Future activities include a trip to the CIAA college fair, a visit to the Duke Energy McGuire Nuclear Plant, and additional college workshops. Ms. E. Williams commented that both the students and the coordinators are “excited about the program!”
Womens tennis finished season with winning record
Cardinals' Nest - The 2017 Lady Cardinals tennis team finished the season with a winning record of 8-6 and moved to the Conference tournament. Nya and Najah Williams (freshmen) subsequently earned a spot in the 4A Regional tournament at Ardrey Kell High School on October 20 – 21. The team overcame some challenges this year including an absence of home tennis courts while they were being resurfaced, but is looking forward to the new courts next season. Ms. Tiemi Halverson remarked, “Nothing would stop this great team from succeeding!"
Seven of the team members are graduating seniors and will leave Phillip O. Berry for college next year. Seniors include Sierra Sanders, Amani Parkins, Ana Bourommavong, Kiara Battle, Jessica Rosas, Jade Degraphenreid, and Rayna Belem.
POB students and faculty member part of after school youth development program
Charlotte, NC – If you were to walk into Spirit Square in uptown Charlotte on Mondays and Tuesdays in the afternoon, you may find Phillip O. Berry senior, Jihad Davis, producing music and learning the tools of the trade regarding the music industry. Davis, along with several other Phillip O. Berry students, takes courses offered through a program called Studio 345.In conjunction with the Arts and Sciences Council, the non-profit afterschool program offers tuition free classes to interested students in the arts and sciences. It is open to all CMS students enrolled in grades 9-12 and offers courses on a trimester schedule throughout the year. Classes are conducted by professionals with rich content knowledge and job-site experience.
Davis found his way into the program through a friend last year, wanting to pursue a career in music production. He was very complimentary of the classes he is currently taking and mentioned, “It gives me all the tools I need to further my career in music.” POB’s very own Mr. Desai, also conducts a science course through Studio 345. The course covers a variety of topics in the field of science and helps to develop student portfolios in the field. Mr. Desai hopes to integrate his course content with the different digital design courses for additional cross-curricular collaboration.
Interested students can learn about the program at Studio 345’s website. Registration through a lottery system is currently open for the winter trimester.
Financial Literacy Event a Success
Cardinals' Nest – On Thursday, October 12th., 2017, Ms. Patel, career development coordinator for Phillip O. Berry, hosted a financial literacy event in partnership with the State Employees Credit Union. Over 300 Berry students from AVID and the Academies of Engineering (AOE), Health Science (AOHS), & Information Technology (AOIT) experienced the “Reality of Money” simulation. Students assumed the roles of young adults with jobs, a family, and financial responsibilities to manage. They were exposed to various financial learning points, the value of furthering their education after high school, and the limiting effect bad credit has on their lifestyle choices. They also learned the importance of living within one’s means and saving for their financial futures. This hands-on activity is designed to ignite their passions for financial literacy.
In addition to the State Employees Credit Union, Ms. Patel gave out a "big thank you" to the following sponsors who also sent volunteers for the even: Phillip O. Berry PTSA, former and current CMS support staff, Carowinds, Treasher Inc., Wells Fargo Bank, Funding Futures USA, Learn to Earn Tutoring, Kings College, Technology Learning Cloud, Strength Based Community Alternatives, and Olive Garden of Fort Mill.
Congratulations Phillip O. Berry Marching Band
Durham, NC – On Saturday, September 30th, the Phillip O. Berry marching band participated in the “Bull City Marching Band Classic” at North Carolina Central University’s O'Kelly-Riddick Stadium. The competition hosted seventeen high school bands from across the Carolinas and Virginia and included an exhibition from NCCU host band, The Sound Machine Marching Band.
The Marching Cardinals placed 1st in “dance flag” & “music,” and 2nd in “percussion”, “drum major”, “marching” & “general effect” categories. The marching band also placed 2nd overall in Class 2A competition. Mr. Suggs, band director, remarked that he was, “very proud” of his students and their accomplishments.
This was the first time Phillip O. Berry participated in this competition. The marching band will compete next in the “Mid-Eastern Band Classic” at Highland Springs H.S. in Highland Springs, VA on Saturday, October 21st.
Congratulations Marching Cardinals!
Ms. Kennedy is the West Learning Community Principal of the Year
Cardinals' Nest – It’s not unusual to find Principal Terra Kennedy sitting at a desk in a hallway at Phillip O. Berry answering emails. “I don’t like to be shut up in an office,” said Kennedy. “I like to be out and about, interacting with my students. They know they can come to me any time.”
Kennedy sets an open-door policy for her students. She keeps healthy snacks in her office and students often drop by. “They want to see what I have in the bottom drawer,” said Kennedy. “They need nourishment before they take a test.”
Kennedy’s strong bond with students is one of the many reasons she was recently named West Learning Community Principal of the Year. “Leaders are often described by the qualities they possess,” said Dr. Curtis Carroll, West learning community superintendent. “When I think about Terra Kennedy and her leadership, I think about her actions. The decisions she makes are derived from her belief that every student is gifted. As a result, she challenges them to become our future leaders. She empowers her staff to bridge knowledge and understanding with the 21st century landscape of constant innovative disruptions. The love Principal Kennedy demonstrates to the staff, students, parents and community is rooted in her passion for young people, her dedication to learning and teaching, and her desire to positively impact the community.”
Dr. Carroll surprised Kennedy with a visit to her school and announced the news over the school’s PA system. Kennedy was taken to a classroom where a reception was set up for teachers and students to celebrate with her.
“My initial response was, ‘Why did they select me?’” said Kennedy. “I am so passionate about my students and education, but I like to fly under the radar and let my students and staff shine. But I was so honored that my peers have noticed my dedication and feel like I am worthy of being honored.”
Kennedy is from the small South Carolina town of Coward. As a child, she pretended to be a teacher, influenced by two paternal aunts who are teachers. “I was encouraged to find a career that would allow you to serve others,” she said. “I joined the Teacher Cadets program in high school and I knew teaching was the career for me.”
She earned her bachelor’s degree from Winthrop University and her master’s degree from Gardner-Webb University. She was a student teacher at South Mecklenburg High and she spent one year teaching in Rock Hill, S.C. where she was named new Teacher of the Year. She returned to CMS for her second year to teach at Marie G. Davis, then an IB Middle Program. When she heard about Phillip O. Berry opening, she immediately applied.
“When I heard the story of Phillip O. Berry and how he wanted to be an engineer and couldn’t receive the education he needed, but he didn’t give up, I was inspired,” said Kennedy. “It reminded me of my own upbringing.”
In Coward, post-secondary education was not encouraged for African-American students. “My family knew how important it was, but African Americans were expected to get a farm or a factory job,” said Kennedy. “Being a part of Phillip O. Berry allowed me to help students from all backgrounds have an opportunity to find a career, a STEM vocation or a college path.”
Kennedy taught at Phillip O. Berry for a decade and then became the leader of the Career and Technical Education program at Myers Park High School. A year later, she was invited back to Phillip O. Berry to lead the magnet program. The school’s principal, told Kennedy she had a gift for leadership. “I’d never considered that,” said Kennedy. “I thought I would teach for 30 years and retire.”
Kennedy earned her license, but remained in her magnet position. Dr. Carroll became the principal of Philip O. Berry and encouraged her to become an assistant principal. “I wanted to be an AP at Phillip O. Berry,” said Kennedy. “Curtis told me that I needed to broaden my horizons and that I would love students at any school.”
She became the assistant principal of instruction at Garinger. After two years, Learning Community Superintendent Charity Bell approached her about being a principal. Kennedy wasn’t sure she was ready. “I asked Brian Schultz (chief academic officer) to come observe me and see if I had a skill set to lead a school. He thought I was ready.”
Kennedy has been the principal of Phillip O. Berry for four years now, returning to the school she’s always loved. Her biggest goal is to prepare her students for the future. “When students sit down with me and say they aren’t going to college, I ask why,” she said. “When they graduate, they will have a diploma that gives them options. We are going to prepare them for the college, career or military. They will have access to the most rigorous coursework.”
Whenever she has a chance, Kennedy pushes aside her paperwork to interact with students. “It gives me the energy and strength to remind me why I do this,” she said. “For the students. My grandfather always said, ‘Don’t tell people what you do. Let your work speak for itself.’ Service is what guides me each day. It lifts me up when I give to others.”
Congratulations Ms. Kennedy! "The sky is the limit!"
*article originally published by CMS via CMS Employee Intranet, 9/17/17