In Memoriam: Kathryn Stripling Byer

Kathryn Stripling Byer
IN MEMORIAM

 

A poet who sang, who shared, but above all, who inspired.

 

I have a clear memory from the end of a British Lit course in college: we were packing up our things, and the professor called me to the podium¬†to hand back a poem I’d given him the week before. “It’s good,” he said. “And the poet of the house likes it, too.”

The professor was easily among my favorites, and as anyone knows by now a young writer handing his verse to an inspiring teacher needs only “good” to make his day. But the second part–the part about the poet of the house–meant even more.

That poet, Kathryn Stripling Byer, would later become the first female Poet Laureate of North Carolina and a member of our state’s Literary Hall of Fame. She passed away today after a brief illness. Continue reading “In Memoriam: Kathryn Stripling Byer”

The Beautiful Story of a D-Rated School

EDUCATION

 

Letter grades can’t possibly tell the whole story of a school. An inside look at the passionate work of a school our state says is a letter away from failing.

(Author’s note: this story was originally published in September 2015.)

A few weeks ago, my wife began her fifteenth year teaching elementary school music. She’s been in the same classroom and the same school for her entire career, and she’s seen thousands of kids come through her hallway.

She enjoys her job; she teaches every kid in the building, so she’s kind of like a local celebrity. We rarely can make it through the grocery store (or anywhere around town) without someone running up to her, hugging her leg, and running off with a smile. It’s a happy thing to see.

This week, though, her school received a North Carolina school performance grade of D. Continue reading “The Beautiful Story of a D-Rated School”

While I’m waiting for the computer to finish downloading software

DIARY

I am about three and a half months into the new job–14 weeks and going on 15, to be more precise–and April has been the busiest yet. The good news is that our office is running really well, and we’ve been notching a few big wins as we go. This week we wrapped up our employee giving campaign, and we hosted our spring donor event.

The spring donor event was decidedly different–we changed up a lot of things that had traditionally been done year after year: the menu, the decor, the music. Tradition is important, and I was admittedly a bit nervous about what might happen if we messed with it.

But our team of folks really came through. The food, handpicked by our event organizer, was by all accounts very good. (We used Langtree Catering and Events, and they really pulled it off.) The decor was a step away from the “fish fry” model we’ve used and leaned toward a more business banquet appearance. We used a college band to provide the music, and they had several inquiries about other gigs by the end of the night. We slightly improved the beer and wine offerings, and we included a 20-minute program in the middle of everything, which was well received. Continue reading “While I’m waiting for the computer to finish downloading software”