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This week’s “Yellow Jacket Report” follows World Teachers Day, which has been held since 1994 on October 5th to celebrate all of the world’s teachers, reflect on the support teachers need to fully develop their talents, and consider the global teaching profession’s way forward. 

As a school district, we are more intentional about celebrating teachers in May, when the United States celebrates Teachers’ Appreciation Week, but I want to start this column with comments about our amazing teachers and reflections on our way forward. 

After all, where would our students be — where would any of us be ­— without our teachers?

Teachers do it all. 

They have to deeply and widely understand their grade or course level content as well as how their part develops from earlier courses and how it builds the necessary foundation for the next levels.

They must understand how children develop and what motivates their specific classroom of students, so they can take their content, meet their students where they are, and help their students grow to where they need to be at the end of the course. 

They share their passions to inspire students to become both lifelong learners and humans who choose to put others’ needs and interests above their own. 

They provide classroom leadership, supervision, and management from the time students are dropped off in the morning until the buses or families come in the afternoon (often times without much, if any, of a break). 

Then, because they care so much about their students, they continue to work long into the afternoons and evenings as they plan their next lessons, review students’ work, give students feedback, talk with their colleagues about what students are doing well or where they need extra support, and brainstorm next steps. 

They make parent phone calls, host parent conferences and IEP meetings, and go on home visits to see families who cannot get to the school. 

They build relationships with their students and families — inside and outside of the school walls — when they show up at students’ dance recitals and games to support, mentor, and cheer for them, and they give up their evenings and weekends (and time with their own families) to take their students to sporting events and academic competitions and help them develop their passions. 

Teachers make a difference.

Every child deserves a transformational teacher. 

Unfortunately, fewer and fewer people are coming into the teaching profession. 

The Education Policy Initiative at Carolina found that educator attrition and mobility increased sharply between Fall 2020 and Fall 2022. 

The Economic Policy Institute found that teacher pay has declined significantly as compared to other college-educated workers. 

On average in 2022, teachers made 26.4 percent less than other similarly educated professionals, which is the lowest level since 1960.

So what can we do right here in the Roanoke Valley to get our brightest and best into our classrooms and make it so they choose to stay there? In 2017, EdNC published an article you can read at this link that stated that policymakers and educational leaders (and I say that communities in general) should look at five things: salaries and compensation, teacher preparation and entry, hiring and personnel management, induction and early-career support for teachers, and working conditions.

Since our state budget recently became law and funding for our teachers comes from the state budget, I’d like to consider the first item: teachers’ salaries and compensation. 

In this year’s budget, we have both something to be thankful for and a lingering desire that we hope will make it into future budgets. 

First, for the celebration: Over the next two years, beginning teachers’ salaries will increase from $37,000 to $41,000, which is an increase of 10.8 percent. (There are no increases for teachers with Masters or Doctorates received after 2014.) 

This increase is needed in general, but also to be competitive with neighboring states: South Carolina’s beginning teachers’ pay for this year is $42,500 (with a $5,000 increase for a Master’s degree and a $12,000 increase for a Doctorate degree). 

I am so thankful for this increase because attending college and graduating with a four-year degree is expensive, so the profession needs to be financially viable for us to attract new talent. On the other side, my hope for the future is a larger increase for our veteran teachers. 

The increase for teachers with 15 or more years experience is a 3.6 percent raise over the biennium, which is about $188 per month, before taxes. 

Inflation averages 3.28 percent annually and was 8.26 percent last year alone. 

In South Carolina, a teacher in year 23 will earn $20,000 more a year than a North Carolina teacher with the same credentials. 

This past April, a report from the National Education Association ranked North Carolina 36th in the nation for average teacher salary and 46th for average teacher starting salary. (You can read more about the education budget at this link

Our amazing teachers do not go into teaching for the salaries and compensation alone, but to attract and retain the best teachers, we have to consider what they are making and how it compares to the same position in other states or to other professions.

I can’t imagine the difficult conversations and decisions that our legislators have to get a budget passed, and I know that the list of requests is so much bigger than the funds available. 

I am thankful for the support of our legislators in providing the increases for our teachers in this budget as well as how they show up to support our teachers. 

For example, during our Convocation, Representative Michael Wray presented a grant to us, and he also visits our campuses frequently to see our teachers and students. 

Both Representative Wray and Senator Bobby Hanig came to the Center for Energy Education’s 2023 Solarfest: All for Solar, which celebrated the anniversary of C4EE and demonstrated the power of solar energy can transform our community. 

Our RRHS JROTC presented the colors and Marching Yellow Jackets performed, and Roanoke Rapids Early College, AIG, and Central Office students and staff attended and learned a lot!

Not only did our Marching Yellow Jackets perform at Solarfest, but they also have been competing fiercely in their competitions! 

On September 30, they won first place at the West Craven Classic and earned Class 1A 2nd place percussion, 1st place music, 1st place general effect, and 1st place overall band. 

On October 7, they won first place in every area of their class including drum major, visual ensemble, visual effect, general effect, music, percussion, and overall band. 

You can support the band through their annual band fruit sale (navel oranges, pink grapefruits, Hamlin juice oranges, mandarins, and red delicious apples) by calling 252-519-7249 or emailing Director of Bands Laura Manning at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Finally, our elementary and middle schools are partnering with the C.A.R.E. John 3:16 Center on a drive to collect new socks and underwear to give out at Christmas. 

The winning class from each of the three schools will get an ice cream party. 

You can support “Socktober” by dropping off new socks or underwear at Belmont, Manning, or Chaloner.