FORWARD MATTERS - The Newsletter of Guilford County PAGE


Newsletter - Summer 2017 

Guilford County PAGE Update

Your 2016 - 2017 Guilford County PAGE board would like to thank you for your support of gifted education in Guilford County. 

During the last general meeting of the year on May 31, 2017, Katherine Humphreys and Ginny Zmuda were elected by our membership as president and vice president, respectively. Previously, Katherine served as AG program liaison for four years and was instrumental in re-forming the PAGE chapter in 2013. For the last two years, Ginny served as family events program chair; in this capacity, she organized many events, including at Guilford College, UNCG, and the Greensboro Science Center. 

The board would like to thank Holly Stewart (president) and Michelle Himmelman (VP) for serving on our board since the re-establishment of our chapter in 2013. During that time, Guilford County PAGE became the largest PAGE chapter in the state, and earned the 2015 NCAGT Chapter of the Year award.

This past academic year, Guilford County PAGE advocated for gifted students related to the ARC Balanced Literacy Program, hosted webinars on college admissions and creative thinking, welcomed students to participate in a LEGO STEM event at High Point University, and held an informal coffee for members to mingle.

Please let Ginny Zmuda ( know what events, issues, and ideas you may have for 2017 - 2018. If you have a passion for gifted education and a willingness to serve, please contact Katherine Humphreys ( 

Preparing for College

When your kids are small, you are confident that by the time they turn 16 there will be driverless cars and college admittance will be a piece of cake. Before you know it, you’re teaching them to drive the family minivan, wishing for one of those extra brakes on the passenger floor and college acceptance…has become a real-life version of the Hunger Games. Nevertheless, here are a few things you can do along the way to ensure you and your child will be prepared to navigate the rocky waters.

Middle School

Keep reading!  It’s more important than ever to keep up with family reading time – visit the library, read together, or hunt through used bookshops. Screen lover? Read blogs, download podcasts, or use the computer to remotely visit a library in another country.
Keep going places!  Remember how eager you were to take your pre-schooler to the zoo, the museum, or the local community theater? They are more impressionable than ever and believe it or not, they do like to go places. This is how they experience the world on limited schedules, and colleges look for applicants that know about the world outside of their communities.
Sign up for those “optional” projects – collective groan – yes, the science fair, the history day, and the planting of the sustainable living garden in the school courtyard. Encourage them to start going the extra mile now; this makes their teachers and mentors take notice and will prepare them for high school leadership roles.

Early High School

Have a plan.  Find out early what opportunities are available and what pre-requisites are necessary to move along through the four years. For example, if you know your child will be interested in advanced art classes and an art mentorship by their junior year, be sure to take Art 1 right away even if it means pushing gym or tech ed down the line. Is your child Bill Nye the Science Guy? Plan to double up on science somewhere along the way so they can take advantage of the AP classes later on. 
Walk through the open doors.  The number one thing I heard in college visits was that they wanted to see that your child took advantage of the opportunities available to them. Does your child’s school have a research and mentorship program for AG/AP students? If so, check it out early and get involved. Are there opportunities to tutor and lead the underclassmen? Sign up. 
College visits.  Don't wait until spring break of junior year. Go whenever you can squeeze a visit in, even if it requires missing a school day. Make them fun. Open houses and tours are great but not necessary at this stage. It may be more inspiring to just experience the college campus life. Hanging out in the library, visiting the coffee house, or seeing a performance are great options.

Crunch Time - Junior/Senior Year

Making the numbers.  Just as I hoped for those driverless cars, I also wished for the end of the SAT before my kids arrived at college age. No such luck. It’s time to slay the dragon. Sign up for the free SAT/ACT practice session but make it fun (bribes are ok). Get them to sign up with a friend, and take them out to lunch afterward. Plan to take the real deal twice but be sure they give it their best shot the first time. It's the same way for AP tests; practice makes perfect. You can see all the previous years’ written response questions and sample tests online through College Board.
More visits – Hooray! I actually confess to enjoying college visits and all the time in the car for catching up, seeing new towns, and getting excited about the prospects. I suggest leaving siblings at home if you can and really make it a special time for your soon-to-be college student. Leave lots of time in the day for each visit, particularly at their most desired schools. If your child can make a personal connection there, touring a lab with a grad student, attending a class and introducing themselves to the professor, or signing  up for an overnight, this will make an impression on both your child and the admissions committee. 
Keep your foot on the gas.  Cruising through senior year it’s so tempting for them to think there is nothing left to do but wait. But colleges and scholarship committees are very interested in how they have carried through with their academic and extracurricular interests and activities. And these most recent contributions shine brightly on scholarship applications.

And Finally - The Applications

Step Away.  When you hear the college admissions folks say let them do the applications themselves, please listen. Step away, step away. Your job is to provide snacks and most likely a credit card number! They undoubtedly will ask for your help as the essays pile up but it’s a good time for you to rake the leaves or clean the garage!
Apply early, apply often!  Even if your kid has you convinced that they work best under pressure and you yourself thrive on a bit of time crunch, get those applications done early. That extra time for tweaking and polishing makes a big difference.
Don’t be afraid to toot the horn.  Remind your child that now is not the time to be shy or humble about their many accomplishments. If they put their heart and soul into something, or their valuable time, make sure it’s on the resume, in the app, or described in the essay. Sing it from the rooftops!!
Try to enjoy the process despite the stress and competition. There is a school out there, which will emerge as the perfect fit. They will spend some of their most memorable years there learning, making friends, and making you proud!

About the Author
Evelyn Harshbarger is a teacher, mother and newly-minted empty nester. She has two daughters; the oldest is a graduate of Susquehanna University, and the youngest is a sophomore at Duke University.

PAGE's ARC Advocacy Update

During the winter, PAGE surveyed self-selected teachers and students (with parents) about how the American Reading Company’s (ARC) curriculum for Guilford County Schools (GCS) grades 4 - 9 English Language Arts classes were unfolding for AG students and their teachers. Over 60 teachers across all regions of the county and 60 students responded to the survey. In general, while both students and teachers were pleased with having additional classroom books, many respondents submitted feedback on suggested areas for improvement. On June 7, 2017, the PAGE board is meeting with the GCS' Curriculum and Instruction Department (C & I) to advocate for changes to next year’s implementation of the ARC curriculum.

Accelerated Math Placement

In response to the news reports on disproportionate accelerated math placement for low income AG students, Forward Matters would like its readers to know the GCS guidelines for placement.

GCS’s Curriculum and Instruction Department (C & I) sets guidelines for middle school math placement. The current guidelines have been in place for two years and are the same throughout Guilford County; they may be found on the C & I Secondary Education website under the news section. Within the first 20 days of school in the fall, parents should follow up to ensure their students are placed correctly, especially in transitional 6th and 9th grades. For course descriptions of GCS math courses, see the registration toolbox under the GCS counseling web pages.

Funding for Academic All-Star Summer Camp’s Field Trips

A $500 mini grant from the North Carolina Association for the Gifted and Talented will help fund transportation costs for two field trips Guilford County Schools' Academic All-Star Camp. Thirty top eighth grade students from each middle school are invited to participate in the free three week camp held at Grimsley and Ragsdale High Schools. This summer, participants will visit Wake Forest and Duke Universities for their field trips.

Upcoming Events

June 10
World Oceans Day at the Greensboro Science Center

June 17
Greensboro Summer Solstice at Lindley Park and Greensboro Arboretum

Various Dates
Music for a Sunday Evening in the Park (MUSEP)

August 21, beginning about 1 p.m.
Total Solar Eclipse
Find the path and get your safety viewing glasses

PAGE Teacher Appreciation Contest

PAGE’s Teacher Appreciation Contest relays compliments and positive feedback to Guilford County K-12 teachers from students and parents. From a random drawing of those nominated, four teachers were chosen to be winners. PAGE meets with these teachers for an idea exchange and to reward them with a gift card to a local restaurant and a year’s membership to PAGE. We asked, “If you were in charge, what would you do differently?” 

  • Dudley High School’s AP world history teacher Lisa Mortenson had high praises for the school's Early College Academy Program and hopes that all high school students are able to make such informed decisions about their coursework.
  • Our middle school winner, Meghan Sharp from Northwest Guilford Middle School, would like more say in budget decisions and would not increase class size. She relayed that differentiation gets more and more impossible with 35 students in one class.
  • Mary Price from Oak Ridge Elementary School taught in Harlem in New York City for about 8 years before moving to Guilford County. This has allowed her to experience and compare the two educational systems. If she could change one thing at the elementary school level, she would like to see less time spent assessing in order to allow more time for teaching. 
  • Brandy Jo Brehm from Gibsonville Elementary would provide more experiential learning outside the classroom; visiting art museums to analyze art or going outside to learn about the natural world is more meaningful and lasting.
Thank you teachers for making a positive difference for our students!
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PO Box 167
Oak Ridge, NC 27310

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