Bertie’s best shine bright

Published 10:34 am Thursday, July 9, 2009

WINDSOR – There were the best and they were in-house.

Bertie County Schools recently conducted a successful remediation program that moved 261 students from Level II to Level III in state end of grade testing and two of their own teachers – Amy Mizell and Beverly Riddick – earned the highest marks of any educator.

Mizell, a third grade teacher at Windsor Elementary, was able to lead 62 percent of her students from Level II to Level III. While she was happy with the success, she made it clear that others were involved.

“When you’ve taught third grade for so long, you know the skills they need to pass the test,” Mizell said. “For eight days, I taught objectives. The regular teachers taught the material during the school year. I was able to teach test-taking skills and specific objectives.”

Mizell also said the students were good to work with.

“I had a really good group of kids,” she said. “I was excited because of the knowledge they had. I felt like they had a real chance. Every single one of them had an opportunity.”

During her 10-year career, Mizell has helped with remediation, after-school tutoring and Saturday classes. She said those efforts were all because of her love for children.

“I like helping children,” she said. “I love teaching math and I felt like I might be able to help out.”

At the middle school level, it was Riddick who made the biggest impact among the students, moving 50 percent of the students she had during remediation from Level II to Level III.

Riddick, who taught math at Bertie High School last year, was asked by Bertie Middle School Principal Sandra Hardy to work in remediation and said she wanted to help out.

She said the transition was difficult at first, but got better.

“When I first got there, they had long eyes and were kind of staring me down,” Riddick said. “When I started talking to them, I found out I had taught their brothers and sisters and, in some cases, even a parent.

“I guess they went home and found out about me because the next day, their response was much better,” Riddick said.

While she used the ClassScape assessments provided for some of her students, Riddick said she did a quick assessment of her own to show her which skills and objectives the students needed to learn.

“A lot of kids said they had never seen math taught the way I did,” she said. “They said I put a little spin on it for them.”

Riddick said she was pleased to see so many students move, but felt more faithful attendance would have provided an even bigger movement in students.

“I feel really great about it, but I wish I could have moved more of them,” she said. “If we could have gotten a little more commitment from some of them, they could have made it too.”

Riddick also gave credit to others for her success.

“There was a lot of collaboration between teachers,” she said. “People who came in from other districts brought information about what they were doing at their schools. They shared with me and they didn’t have to do that. I was appreciative that everyone was so cooperative and everyone was working together.”

The remediation program for Bertie County Schools provided an incentive-based pay plan this year, meaning those staff members who had the most success were paid more. Each teacher received $250 per student that was moved from Level II to Level III.

While both teachers had participated in remediation before, they said the incentive plan helped.

“I’ve done remediation for free in the past,” Riddick said. “The money was nice, but it certainly wasn’t my only motivation.”

Mizell agreed.

“I’m obviously pleased with the money, but that’s not why I wanted to be a part of it,” she said. “I wanted to help the children and I feel like I did. The money is just a nice bonus.”

Bertie County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chip Zullinger said he was proud of the accomplishments of both teachers and especially that both of them were employed by the county.

“I think that’s great,” he said. “It’s validation of us having teachers in Bertie County who can get quality results for kids.

“They’re two solid performers for us, no doubt,” he added.

Dr. Zullinger said he was also pleased that a group of teachers were just behind Mizelle and Riddick as far as results and that a good portion of them were Bertie County teachers.