Education News and Notes: Aug. 7 to 13

Students at East Elementary School wait in line Monday, the first day of the 2014-15 school year. Photo courtesy of UCPS

Students at East Elementary School wait in line Monday, the first day of the 2014-15 school year. Photo courtesy of UCPS

School to host Lake Park Live event

LAKE PARK – Central Academy at Lake Park and Central Church at Lake Park will host Lake Park Live 2014! on Aug. 23, a Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lake Park’s Gazebo Park.

“Lake Park Live 2014! is a music and arts festival aimed to bring local Union County families and friends together for a day of entertainment, fun and fellowship,” the school said in a news release.

The event will include live music, food trucks, local artisans and vendors, kids’ activities and more. People are invited to bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on during the event. Call 704-882-6267 for more information.

Central Academy is located at 3624 Lake Park Road. Gazebo Park is located at 4019 Lake Charles Way.

Ellis named regional superintendent of the year

Union County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Mary Ellis recently was chosen by the Southwest Regional Education Service Alliance as the 2014-15 Regional Superintendent of the Year.

Ellis is one of eight North Carolina superintendents who will vie for the 2015 A. Craig Phillips North Carolina Superintendent of the Year award, according to a news release. She will represent Region 6.

Ellis is a Union County native and Piedmont High School graduate who began her career in education as an eighth-grade language arts teacher at Sun Valley Middle School. She taught middle and high school English for 18 years before beginning her administrative career, which has included an assistant principal position at East Union Middle School, principal positions at Parkwood and Porter Ridge middle schools and assistant and deputy superintendent positions with UCPS. She became the UCPS superintendent on July 1, 2012.

The UCPS graduation rate has increased to more than 90 percent – the highest in the state for large districts – under Ellis’s leadership, according to a news release. UCPS also has developed more than 20 career and technical education academies and leads the state in dual-language programs through Visiting International Faculty International Education. Students also are taught Spanish and Mandarin at nine schools through the SPLASH Immersion program, the release said.

“I am very proud to be superintendent of Union County Public Schools,” Ellis said in the release. “When we all work together, we can make tremendous strides in education.” 

The winner of the state superintendent award will be announced in November at the North Carolina School Boards Association Conference.

Year-round schools, early college back in session

While most Union County students are enjoying the last three weeks of summer break, a handful of schools welcomed students back this week.

Six year-round schools in Union County Public Schools started the 2014-15 school year on Monday, Aug. 4. East, Shiloh and Walter Bickett elementary schools, Benton Heights Elementary School of the Arts, the Walter Bickett Education Center and Wolfe School opened their doors to students on Monday, and Union County Early College students started school on Tuesday, Aug. 5.

The year-round schools began the school year with a “great start,” with no major problems reported at the schools or with the school system’s buses, according to a news release from UCPS.

Students attending schools operating on a traditional calendar schedule will begin classes Aug. 25, a Monday. Find more information at

Send us your education news!

Do you know a local teacher who is leading innovative or creative projects in the classroom? Did your child recently take home awards from a local arts or music festival? Maybe your school is hosting winter or spring drama production. No matter what the case, we want to know about it! Send your education news, including all the details, to Education photo submissions also will be accepted.

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Josh Whitener

About Josh Whitener

Josh Whitener has been with the Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group since 2010, currently serving as the Features Editor of Union County Weekly. Josh graduated from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 2009 with a degree in communication studies. In his spare time, he enjoys playing and writing music and spending time with his wife, April; sons, Caleb and Aiden; and two beagles, Annie and Dori. Have a story idea or question for Josh? Contact him at

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