McDowell County Public Schools Home Page
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Upcoming Events
GEN - Counselors
8:00 AM - 4:30 PM
GEN - BOG 3 Training
8:00 AM - 10:00 AM
Repeating EventGEN - Cabinet Meeting
8:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Welcome to McDowell County Schools
INSPIRING SUCCESS: Student-centered, Mission-driven

The McDowell County School System is located in the foothills of beautiful Western North Carolina, about 30 miles east of Asheville. McDowell County Schools consist of 13 schools (one high school, one early college, one alternative education center, two middle/junior high schools, eight elementary schools) and nine pre-school sites. The school system has approximately 6,500 students, nearly 1,000 employees, and around a $55 million budget.

Mission Statement
The mission of McDowell County Schools is to deliver excellence in education where all are engaged in collaboration, communication, and innovation so that every student graduates ready to achieve success and positively shape the future.

McDowell County Schools Open House Calendar
Wednesday August 20th
McDowell High School 
9th Grade 3:30-5:30

Thursday, August 21st
Nebo Elementary School 2:30-4:30
Marion Elementary School 2:30-4:30
Glenwood Elementary School 2:30-4:30
Pleasant Gardens Elementary School 3:00-5:00
Old Fort Elementary School 3:30-5:30
West McDowell Middle School
6th Grade 3:00-4:00
7th Grade 4:00-5:00
8th Grade 5:00-6:00
East McDowell Middle School 3:30-6:00
McDowell High School 10th-12th Grade 3:30-6:30

Friday, August 22nd
East McDowell Middle School 9:00am-Noon
West Marion Elementary School 3:00-5:00
North Cove Elementary 3:00-5:00
McDowell County Schools Announces Administrative Changes for Coming Year
Crystal Hamby has been hired as the new Director of Elementary Education for McDowell County Schools (MCS). The stated goal for the position is ‘to provide leadership, coordination, and support for learning programs and activities in order to provide high quality instructional programs to students throughout the district.’ She will work closely with and in support of the principals and staff of the eight elementary schools.

Ms. Hamby earned teacher licensure in 2002 and has served in the district in multiple roles for the past 12 years. She began as a Kindergarten teacher at Old Fort Elementary in 2002. After four years at Old Fort she moved to Glenwood Elementary in 2006 to teach 3rd Grade. In 2008 she was promoted to assistant principal at West Marion Elementary, where she would serve for the next four years. In 2012 Ms. Hamby was named principal at North Cove Elementary and served in that role for the past two school years. Ms. Hamby earned her Master of School Administration degree from Appalachian State in 2009, and also holds a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Gardner-Webb (1999).   

Desarae Kirkpatrick, principal at West Marion since 2012, will replace Hamby as principal at North Cove. Ms. Kirkpatrick has served in the district for 13 of the past 16 years, and previously served as principal at North Cove from 2008 to 2012. She began her service to McDowell County in 1998 as a Head Start assistant, and later worked as a Head Start and More at Four Pre-K teacher. In 2003 she moved to Madison County as a teacher at Mars Hill Elementary. In 2006 she returned to McDowell County as an assistant principal at McDowell High, where she served until her first assignment at North Cove in 2008. Kirkpatrick graduated from McDowell High in 1998 and attended McDowell Tech until 1999. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and K-12 Deaf Education from Lenoir Rhyne in 2002. She later earned her Master of Arts in Education Administration from East Tennessee State in 2006. 

The hiring process for the new principal at West Marion will begin immediately. To open the school year, retired principal Linda ‘Kay’ Medford will serve as interim principal until the new appointee is named. Ms. Medford retired as principal at Nebo Elementary in 2001, and has completed two interim principal assignments for the district since her retirement. Superintendent Mark Garrett stated, “We are pleased to add Ms. Hamby to the district staff and excited about the impact her new role will have on our schools. Ms. Kirkpatrick did a great job at North Cove previously, and we have the highest expectations for the school and community as she returns. We are also very fortunate to have a proven leader like Kay Medford to serve as interim for us at West Marion.” 

Transitions for each of the new assignments will begin immediately. 
North Cove Summer Camp
Look For Us on the Bus
By Janice Olson

Summer school is not usually something students associate with fun, or look forward to, but that is exactly what happened this summer at North Cove Elementary! (Well, on their borrowed bus.)

Thanks to support from McDowell County Schools, McDowell County Schools Department of Transportation, McSmiles, Title 1 funding, and some willing staff, Crystal Hamby, Principal was able to organize the “Summer Camp Bus”.

Planning got underway and the summer team decided to take the bus for a week long camp at Triple J Mobile Home Park, and a week at Scottie’s Mobile Home Village.

At both camps students enjoyed themed word family days in six different centers. The “-ock” family included playing in sand and shaving cream to find short “o” objects, playing short “o” games on iPad minis, reading Brock’s Flock, making sock puppets, and even making an edible clock!

The last day of camp both weeks, Food Lion employees graciously hosted a tour allowing students to search for their word families on products as well as learning how grocery stores work. Students especially enjoyed getting to scan products at the checkout as well as a cupcake and a treat bag!
Students and staff enjoyed camp so much. Students enjoyed the small groups and learning fun, and teachers were inspired to make classrooms even more hands on for learning

North Cove certainly hopes to be able to repeat this program again! While we are fortunate to have access to an air conditioned bus in summer months, if someone would be willing to let us borrow an air conditioned vehicle with a restroom that would be even better!

16th Annual Operation Backpack
School supplies may be picked up at the Alternative Education Center (AEC) located at 176 Lukin Street, Marion NC (828-652-1040), July 28- August 13, 2014; Monday -Thursday 10am - 4pm.  Picture ID is required.

Supplies Available
Notebook Paper
3 Ring Binders
#2 & Colored Pencils
24 Count Crayons
Safety Scissors
Post-it Notes 
Glue: Bottles & Sticks
Spiral Notebooks
Pocket Folders 
Ballpoint Pens
Composition Books
Pencils Boxes / Pouches

Donations of supplies are accepted year-round at the Board of Education on Main Street.  Monetary donations maybe made payable to "The Endowment Fund" marked for "Operation Backpack".

Operation Backpack
McDowell County Schools
334 South Main Street, PO Box 130
Marion NC 28752

For more information:
Melanie Dunham 828-652-4535 x106 or
Sandra Walker 828-652-1081

THANK YOU for helping us help students!
Flyer Link
3rd grade Summer Reading Camp
3rd grade Summer Reading Camp field trip to the Berry site, an archaeological dig in Morganton. For more information visit

Statement for Parents on State Test Scores
On November 7, the North Carolina State Board of Education will release student test data from the 2012-2013 school year. These test results are from testing completed in May and June of 2013. This release is almost six months after students in McDowell County and across the state completed testing. This test data reflects a major change in North Carolina’s accountability measures. The data is based on the new North Carolina Standard Course of Study in Reading and Math. The tests were developed by the state to be used for just two years until the planned transition to the Smarter Balanced assessments, which will be given by multiple states beginning in 2014-15. The results are also reflective of new achievement standards that are much higher than on prior EOG and EOC exams, as well as different item-types and questions that included higher order thinking skills. As a result, scores across North Carolina have fallen tremendously from those in previous years. Depending on the grade level, the percentage of students scoring as proficient dropped 16-25 percent in reading, 27-44 percent in math, and 9-33 percent in science statewide.

Some points to consider when examining this year’s test scores:
• North Carolina public school students are now required to meet a higher standard of proficiency on their End-of-Grade (EOG) and End-of-Course (EOC) tests.

• In the past, proficiency standards only addressed what students needed for success at the next grade level. The new proficiency standards address how ready students are for college and careers, and whether students are on track to be ready by high school graduation.

• Whenever new standards are set, test score results indicate a drop at first.

• It is important to note that students continued to grow academically in 2012-13, even though the tougher achievement standards will show fewer students meeting the standard. These new scores simply mean that we are expecting students to reach higher levels of learning than ever before.

• North Carolina has experienced decreases in proficiency levels when new standards have been set, at least twice before in the last two decades.

• Just as in the high jump, when an athlete clears the bar, it must be raised. The athlete will miss the bar the first few tries, but will eventually clear the higher bar, and it will be raised again.

• Properly aligned assessments give everyone a clearer picture of how well students are prepared to enter college and the work force. We must have this picture in order to support student learning and improvement and to support teachers.

• It is extremely important to note that in this transition year, these scores will NOT affect students’ grades or current placement. The 2012-13 scores are a baseline for the new assessments and the state’s new accountability model.

• It is ineffectual to compare this year’s scores with last year’s scores as apples to apples. The tests administered in 2012-13 were different. They measured NEW content standards. These new scores have established a new baseline for proficiency.

• North Carolina is not alone in this transition. New York and Kentucky were the first two states to go through this, as they implemented their new assessments in 2011-12 and experienced similarly
dramatic drops last fall. Many states across the country will report similar results this fall, reflecting the adoption of more rigorous standards in many states.

For McDowell County, test results show students grew at rates comparable to state averages or slightly above state averages in reading and math in most grade levels, while science growth tends to be slightly above the state average in both 5th and 8th grade. Additional data shows that all across North Carolina and McDowell County student performance tends to reflect lower test scores. However, student growth from the 2011- 12 school year to the 2012-13 school year was consistent. Student growth is the result of the dedication and hard work taking place in every school. McDowell County Schools will remain focused on this growth to ensure students are prepared to move forward with success, regardless of what they choose to pursue.

As the Interim Superintendent, I understand the importance of providing a quality education for every student. This district is not satisfied with the current status and stands committed to improve all aspects of McDowell County Schools. This can be accomplished by partnering together with students, their families, the community, and our staff. If all work together with a common focus, students will benefit.

Thank you for supporting McDowell County Schools.

Mark R. Garrett
Interim Superintendent
Parent Letters from the Office of State Superintendent
 You will find the parent letters from the North Carolina State Superintendent June Atkinson at the following links:

Parent Letter in English

Parent Letter in Spanish
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