Ridgecroft hires veteran educator

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 5, 2005

AHOSKIE – When he took over as headmaster at Ridgecroft School, Elton Winslow had a simple goal.

The goal is to make the school a place where parents send their children because of the quality education it provides.

&uot;We want people to come here because we do what we do well, not because the other places don’t do it well,&uot; Winslow said.

A move that will take effect this August will be a step in that direction, according to Winslow and Board of Directors Chairman Joe Murray.

Just over a month from now, Karen Vaughan will join the staff of Ridgecroft as a Curriculum Specialist, spending her time working to assist and improve the instruction offered in grades Kindergarten through 12.

&uot;I’ve worked with three headmasters now,&uot; Murray said. &uot;In all three cases, there were things they did very well and other things that fell off the table.

&uot;It became obvious to the board that something else was needed to make this happen,&uot; he continued. &uot;If none of the three – all good administrators – could get everything done, they needed help.&uot;

Winslow said the Board approached him at the end of 2004 and asked what one position would most help him.

&uot;I didn’t just give an answer,&uot; Winslow insisted. &uot;I spent some time thinking about it and it came to me that if there was one area we needed help, it would be to hire a Curriculum Specialist to improve the instructional process at Ridgecroft School.&uot;

The headmaster said he could have focused on the instructional area, but most of his other duties would have fallen to the side because of the importance of curriculum and instruction.

The answer was Vaughan, a 10-year veteran in the Curriculum Specialist department. She has supervised instruction in Edgecombe County Schools as well as Pitt County Schools.

Vaughan said she would be focusing on helping good teachers become better teachers.

&uot;The first thing we do will probably be a needs assessment,&uot; Vaughan said. &uot;We’ll look at where we are as far as curriculum needs, talk to teachers and develop a plan and a time line.&uot;

Winslow said the school currently administers the Iowa Basic Test of Skills in grades K-11, but no one had been able to break down the test results.

&uot;We need to see what we’re doing good and where we can improve,&uot; Winslow said. &uot;Karen will be an ally for our teachers to help them find what they need.&uot;

Vaughan said she would be using the knowledge she gained in the past 12 years working with different school districts. She said the position of Curriculum Specialist was still fairly unfamiliar in most rural areas and indicated she and her counterparts in Pitt County Schools basically developed their role in the district.

Vaughan will be charged with working hand-in-hand with teachers to provide and demonstrate good teaching techniques.

Winslow said this was important because no teacher was past the point of learning.

&uot;There is no such thing as a polished teacher coming out of college,&uot; he stressed. &uot;Teachers are a work in progress. Good teachers find their way.

&uot;What Karen brings is expertise in working to find the practices that work in classrooms and share them with teachers,&uot; he added.

Two important areas, according to Winslow and Vaughan, will be real-life applications and technology.

Improving instruction is important for the entire school, Murray said.

&uot;What the Board wants is for students to be in a position to choose where they want to go to college,&uot; he said. &uot;The Board wants our students to be able to go anywhere they want.&uot;

Murray admitted bringing a curriculum person on board would be a change for the school.

&uot;This will be an adjustment for our teachers,&uot; he said. &uot;They have to have a change of thought. It’s important for them to realize Karen is here to help.&uot;

Vaughan comes to Ridgecroft after her retirement from Pitt County Schools. She spent seven years as K-12 Math-Science Curriculum Specialist in that district. She also spent three years as a Math Curriculum Specialist in Edgecombe County.

Before those two jobs, she was a math teacher in Northampton County, Hertford County and Durham County.

She has served on the board of the North Carolina Science Leadership Association, the North Carolina Teachers of Mathematics and Ridgecroft School.

She has a master’s degree from East Carolina University and an AB Mathematics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She finished her prep work at Myers Park High School in Charlotte.