Stanly County School Board approves new courses

Two new courses that will get students exploring the outside world and learning what it takes to lead a physically active lifestyle were given the green light by the Stanly County Board of Education Tuesday night.

South Stanly Middle School science and social studies teacher Kristin Owens-White is developing an outdoor STEM elective course at the school. She said she has spent 250 hours over the past year working on her North Carolina Environmental Education certification.

The course will last a semester and only be offered at South Stanly Middle.

Owens-White’s goal is to broaden horizons by taking students outside the classroom, especially students who might not do well in the traditional school setting.

“I think we need to get kids back outdoors exploring, seeing what is in the world around them,” she said, noting she wants to get students’ hands dirty.

Owens-White told the board that when students see how passionate she is about the subjects, “that they’ll pick up on that passion, too.”

One of her goals is to have the school system participate next year in the NC Envirothon, a natural resource education program.

“This world…it’s not going be here forever if we don’t take care of it,” she said. “And it’s there’s, and they’re going to be responsible for it and ultimately responsible for us.”

Board member and former teacher Bill Sorenson, chairman of the Instructional Committee, noted how much research and effort Owens-White has already put in to creating this new course.

“Anytime one of our top tier teachers comes to me as excited about something that she can bring on that will benefit our kids, how can I say no?” he said. “I highly support what she’s trying to do.”

SCS Chief Academic Officer Lynn Plummer presented to the board a high school honors physical education course, which has been championed by several high school P.E. teachers.

“Our physical education teachers at the high school level came together in March to begin developing a plan of ‘What could this course look like?’ ” Plummer said.

The course will combine academics, including learning about nutrition and the types of muscles in the human body, with physical fitness.

“It’s not just a matter of going to the weight room and lifting weights and going outside and playing on the field every day, but being able to add in exercise and diet and the nutritional side of things,” Plummer said.

With this being an honors course, the students will gain additional GPA points, a key incentive when decided what classes to take.

Both new courses, which will be offered next school year, were first approved by the Instructional Committee during its April 24 meeting.