BY MELINDA SKUTNICK
The Mooresville Graded School District began the 2020-2021 school year on Monday with its annual convocation – an event attended by few guests at the Performing Arts Center and a large virtual audience, mirroring the district’s online-only education beginning in one week.
The celebratory morning included school-year sentiments from Superintendent Stephen Mauney and others, including the newly named Teacher of the Year. The honor – and a 2020 Ford Edge Titanium – was presented to Yevette Peveler, EC teacher and MIWAYE staff at the N.F. Woods Campus.
“It’s always an individual who stands out,” said Grant Shoe of Mooresville Ford as he announced the award. “This person does whatever it takes – home visits, providing meals, taking groceries to someone’s home … This [student] was completing his capstone while incarcerated and [she] helped push him over the top and graduate.”
Said Peveler, a self-proclaimed “late bloomer” to teaching, as she accepted the surprise honor: “We serve a lot of kids and a lot of situations – some are situational, some are generational – and the resources that come out of [MIWAYE] are just phenomoneal. I cannot sing their praises enough.”
Humbled by the recognition, Peveler shared a Tupac Shakur quote with the audience that she felt was appropirate for the school year ahead and her work with students: “I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world.”
She added, “I do want to be the one who inspires the mind … As we move forward in these trying times, please remember that these students are going through situations … Help them to become an inspiration to their peers.”
Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Ingrid Medlock, the convocation’s emcee, praised all of the district’s teachers as she closed her remarks, “You all make this district work … You are appreciated. You are celebrated. You are acknowledged. We thank you so much for everything you do for every child.”
Mauney wrapped up Monday’s event with his annual “charge” for the new school year.
As the MGSD embarks upon nine weeks of remote learning, beginning August 17, the superintendent focused on the need for “authentic relationships” with students and colleagues during this time of “apprehension, uncertainty and fear.”
“I understand that we are in a heightened state of emotions right now. The last five months have been different,” said Mauney. “As we start this new school year, I want you to know that we are, as a district, sensitive to that.”
He continued, “This year is very different. We are starting the school year virtually. We are gonna have to build those authentic relationships with out students virtually first.”
Mentioning the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead, Mauney noted the immense need for compassion and communication under Plan C. He also encouraged teachers to maintain their high expectations and rely on each other in the weeks and months to come.
“The work that we are going to do this year is going to be difficult. It’s always difficult, but this year, more than ever,” Mauney added. “So it’s going to be important that we share the burden and keep each other positive in these difficult times … I can say with heartfelt confidence that our kids are better off because of you and the investment that you make in their lives.”
The superintendent ended the event with a casual “this is weird” to the masked audience after issuing a a final call to tackle the new school year with optimism, hope and understanding.
“There will be a time, hopefully in the not-so-distant future, when we can come together and we can see those smiling faces. Let’s all come together, despite the challenges, to make this the best year that we have had in Mooresville Graded’s history.”
♦ Assistant Principal of the Year: Samone Graham, Mooresville High School
♦ Administrator of the Year: Jemma Conley, Coordinator for Elementary Curriculum
♦ Beginning Teacher of the Year nominees: Jessy DeFrancisco, Park View Elementary School; Ashley Cottle, Rockey River Elementary School; Kennedi Meadows, South Elementary School; Felicia Tapper, East Mooresville Intermediate School; Leah Gryder, Mooresville Intermediate School; Meredith Stanley, Mooresville Middle School; Tonya Parks, Mooresville High School; Gary Merriman, N.F. Woods Campus/MIWAYE
♦ Beginning Teacher of the Year: Felicia Tapper, East Mooresville Intermediate School
♦ Teacher of the Year nominees: Jennifer McNeely, Park View Elementary School; Tracey Cubert, Rocky River Elementary School; Susan Stutts, South Elementary School; Kendal Davis, East Mooresville Intermediate School; Rebekah Jack, Mooresville Intermediate School; Kelly Hildebran, Mooresville Middle School; Traci Willis, Mooresville High School; Yevette Peveler, N.F. Woods Campus/MIWAY
♦ Teacher of the Year: Yevette Peveler, N.F. Woods Campus/MIWAYE