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Group Shot 2016Sam Sirois, who serves as the coordinator of our after school program for Mitchell County middle school students (called Students Taking Active Roles or “S.T.A.R.” for short), was recently honored by the Mitchell County Board of Education for her classroom students’ outstanding End of Grade and End of Course testing in academic year 2015-2016.  Ms. Sirois, who teaches 8th Grade Science at Harris Middle School in Spruce Pine, was recognized along with six other Mitchell County School District teachers. Superintendent Chad Calhoun expressed his appreciation for the outstanding job they do each school day. We couldn’t agree more!

Most Tuesday or Thursday afternoons, you’ll find Sam in deep conversation with students of the S.T.A.R. Club.  She and the students may be discussing how to encourage positive relationships with friends, the latest music trend, or a popular TV show or movie while they make healthy snacks together after school. Sam always has projects ready for the students to learn something new or engage in activities that are relaxing.  They especially enjoy cooking, and preparing a Thanksgiving meal together is an annual favorite.  Recently, the students worked with Penland artists to learn how to make little books for writing poems or stories.

Sam’s upbeat, yet straightforward, approach to the youths’ issues and concerns creates a bond of trust with her students.  S.T.A.R. students appreciate Ms. Sirois even when they graduate out of the club and head on to high school. Many have expressed a wish that they could remain in S.T.A.R. Club.  For S.T.A.R. students who may not have the opportunities for other after-school activities, Sam is an outstanding educator who has skills in matching up activities that enrich and encourage her students to experience something new.  Thanks, Ms. Sirois, for being a S.T.A.R. champion!