Carolina Impact 10/13/2015

NARRATOR 1: This is a production
of WTVI PBS, Charlotte. Just ahead on Carolina IMPACT,
high school graduation rates continue to grow. But how do we help the nearly
15% who drop out each year? We’ll take a look at a local
program making a difference. Plus, we’ll meet
a man using soccer to motivate kids to excel on
the field and in the classroom. And we’ll hear from
a local painter who lassoes some of
our favorite places to put them on canvas, which
allows us to enjoy them at home. Don’t go anywhere. Carolina IMPACT
starts right now. NARRATOR 1: WTVI, PBS Charlotte,
presents Carolina IMPACT– covering the issues, people,
and places that impact you. This is Carolina IMPACT. Funding for Carolina
IMPACT is provided by the members of WTVI,
PBS Charlotte, and by– NARRATOR 2: The Philip
L. Van Every Foundation is pleased to support our
region’s arts organizations and artists, with
profiles and feature stories on Carolina IMPACT. [music playing] Good evening. Thanks so much for joining us. I’m Amy Burkett. Graduation rates for the
Charlotte-Mecklenburg school district hit a new high
last year, rising to 85.2%. This marks the fifth
consecutive year the district has
seen an increase. The district graduation
rate actually beats the national
average by about 4%. Carolina IMPACT’s
Danielle Kosir shows us how one organization
makes a difference to help keep kids in school. DANIELLE KOSIR: Kicking the ball
and racing toward first base. Kids cheer each other on
in a game of kick ball. Between the fun and the games,
leaders with the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Clubs
of greater Charlotte say they work to teach kids
life lesson, encouraging them to build character,
continue their education, and live a healthy life style. Part of the Boys
and Girls Clubs’ mission is to enable the young
people who need them the most. That’s why all of the
Boys and Girls Clubs in greater Charlotte are
located within 100 yards of public housing, like here
in North Charlotte’s Dillehay Courts. SHAQUANIA WATSON: At
the Boys and Girls Club, I just knew that I
wanted to do better. Because the environment
that I lived in– I live in public
housing– and it’s just, like, I did not want to see myself
in public housing ever again. DANIELLE KOSIR (VOICEOVER):
Shaquania Watson remembers when she lived here. Middle school, I hated it. I didn’t want to get up. My mom wasn’t
telling me to get up, so, um, when I went to
the Boys and Girls Club, it was just, like, you know,
they pushed me to go to school. Then we saw him
step in on the mat– DANIELLE KOSIR (VOICEOVER):
The organization strives to help thousands of
students like Watson each year. Executive Director
Marty Clary says 92% of the overall
club population qualifies for the free and
reduced meal program at school. And 67% of the families
served make less than $25,000 annually. The population that
we serve are primarily kids that are from
difficult circumstances. It is well documented
that, that poverty influences academic
success, or lack thereof. It can be a big factor. DANIELLE KOSIR (VOICEOVER):
Data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows
the dropout rate of students living in low income
families is greater than the dropout rate
of students from middle or high income families. Dana Carpenter,
Director of Operations, says clubs offer several
programs designed to help students graduate. Many of them stress the
importance of goal setting. It starts with our
first graders who come into the homework program. They’re going to set goals
to get their homework done, they’re going to set goals
to move their grades forward. Well, it is in Power Hour
that I like where we get to do our homework– DANIELLE KOSIR (VOICEOVER):
Another program, Goals for Graduation,
encourages students to commit to graduating from high school. Club leaders also take
teens on college tours. DANA CARPENTER:
It is so important to take our kids onto a campus. It erases the fear
of the unknown. I’ve always wanted
to go to college. But the hard part
was getting there. Um, I didn’t know what
to do to get there. DANIELLE KOSIR
(VOICEOVER): Watson says she became the first
member of her family to graduate from high
school and go to college, pursuing a degree
in entrepreneurship at the University of North
Carolina, Greensboro. She spends her summers
back here in Charlotte, working with kids. She didn’t allow her
situation to become her future. You know, she were able
to take what was going on and use it for the betterment
of her life, you know. She didn’t use it as
something– as an excuse not to, but she used it as a
reason why she should. And that’s what makes
her story so great. DANIELLE KOSIR (VOICEOVER):
Bernard Neal, a former member of the Boys and
Girls Clubs, says he can relate to Watson’s story. We lived in the project,
and there was always something bad to get into. The Boys and Girls Club kept
us away from those things, and gave us things to do
that was very impactful. And at the same time,
very meaningful. The Boys and Girls
Club is a safe place for kids to come when
they have nowhere else to go after school. DANIELLE KOSIR
(VOICEOVER): Statistics released from the
Boys and Girls Clubs of greater Charlotte
show 94% of alumni say they graduated
from high school. And nearly 40% say they
received a college degree. Being at the Boys
and Girls Club just made me realize
that I did want to do something with my life. That’s real heartwarming to
me, even as an administrator, to see kids on a regular
basis that, the light switch all of a sudden comes on, and
they see, oh, I can be that. I can do that. DANIELLE KOSIR (VOICEOVER):
Stories like Watson’s show just how far kids can go with
some structure, encouragement, and guidance. You would never know that
these kids live some awful lives outside, when you
see them in the club. Because for that
short moment of time, they’re able to forget
about all those things, and truly enjoy being a child. DANIELLE KOSIR
(VOICEOVER): Fun and games. And then my cat
saw my dog, and– DANIELLE KOSIR (VOICEOVER):
With a focus on education, club leaders say they strive
to help kids learn their value, and form a vision
for the future. For Carolina IMPACT, I’m
Danielle Kosir, reporting. Thanks so much, Danielle. It’s always great to
see a program making a difference in our children. We want to learn
a little bit more about programs making a
difference in our schools, and I have a special guest
joining me right now. We have Michele King. She supervises all
of the social workers in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg
school district. Michelle, thanks so
much for your time. We appreciate it. Thank you for having me today. You know, it is good to see
and to hear that the graduation rates are getting better. Five years in a row. Talk to us about–
what do you think has made the biggest
impact to get us moving in the right direction? You know, Amy, I think
it’s a variety of factors that are all coming
together, the way that we need them to be. We’ve got some great
initiatives going on in CMS to really ensure that
our students are getting on target for graduation. One of those things is
called the Graduation Success Initiative. And that’s some
really systematic work that our school counselors
and other folks in the schools do to monitor
students’ transcripts, and the courses they’re
taking, to make sure that they’re staying on
track for graduation. So that’s one of the big things. They’re also doing a lot
of strategic scheduling. So for some of our
English language learning students, and– How big of a
population is that? Of your– there’s multiple
different languages being spoken– more than just one. Many people think it’s
just Spanish speakers. Absolutely. We have dozens of
different languages spoken in
Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. And so we have some
really strategic efforts. We have a great
International Center as part of our district, that
works with those families when they’re first
coming into the district to get the students placed
in the right grade level, and at their schools. And we just try to make sure
that the classes that they’re being put in are catered towards
what their best needs are. And that’s the case for our
exceptional children as well. And as a large urban
school district– you’ve got over
140,000 students– Mm-hm. Yep. Well over. 168 schools. Dozens of different languages. It’s not an easy job
to do what you do. But these folks have
really been focused on reading, and success in
reading, and one initiative that Superintendent
Ann Clark has been to get people reading
on a third grade level by the third grade. But there’s a new program
about reading that we could– you could use the help
of the community as well. Tell us about it. Absolutely. This program that
we’re, uh– Doctor, uh, Superintendent Clark
has launched this year is called our North Star
Reading Partners Initiative. And what she’s asked is
that every CMS employee takes on at least one
student, one hour a week, each week, to provide them
with some direct mentoring and reading support. And we’re looking at doing this
with, not only our third grade students, but also our seventh
grade students, and our seniors as well. And that’s another thing
that will certainly push them towards that last
step– towards graduation. And what we’re doing now
is, that’s being expanded into the community as well. And so we are asking that
any community members that want to help a child,
and help our kids reach that graduation
level of our goal for 90% by the end of this school year,
can join us in doing that, by just giving one hour
a week to a student. We think it makes a
really big difference. And what an exciting thing
to go from a life– you know, there’s so many business
folks in our area who’ve seen success. But to take your life from
being successful to a life of significance, by being
able to help a young person graduate on time. We’re going to put a link to
your website on our website so folks can sign
up, and we hope to help you drive– you know,
hopefully, thousands of folks will pay attention
tonight, and want to make a difference in
the lives of young people. That would be fantastic. What else do we need to see
before we run out of time? You’ve got some creative
learning strategies, also, that are in the
works, to continue to grow the graduation rate. Right. So CMS has really
made some efforts, and continues to do
so, in offering kids some creative strategies, such
as additional online learning opportunities. You know, not every student
fits into the traditional model of instruction and
education as we’ve known it for hundreds of years. So having opportunities like
North Carolina Virtual Public School, Doing some
credit recovery through some online work,
and things of that nature. When we talk about
credit recovery, what does that mean,
for the person? So we’re talking about kids
who, for whatever reason, are behind in credits,
or have failed courses, and therefore it’s
pushing them away from being on track to
that graduation success, and that college and career
readiness that were always aiming for. And so having these
options in place can help them recover
some of those credits, and get them back on track
to where they need to be. Because we’ve found
that when kids start to fall back
and be off track, they get closer and
closer to being at risk for dropping out of school. And our goal is to get them
to graduate from school, and be college and career ready. So that’s going to
help them do that. We want to congratulate
you on the progress you’ve made so far, and hope that
the whole community can wrap around, and be a part of
the future success of all of our young people, so we can
have a beautiful, vibrant area to enjoy for many years to come. I think that
would be fantastic. And you know, I think we
do an awesome job at CMS, but our kids are our community. They’re our future. And we all take
ownership of them. So as we continue to partner
to do things like this, I think we can only see
good things come from it. Michele King, from
Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools. Thanks so much for your time. We appreciate it. Thank you for having me. I enjoyed it. Have you’ve got your
pet cuddled up beside you this evening? I have to show you a
picture of my Maxie May. I’ve often called her my
perfect child– no offense to my 14-year-old son, RJ. Our pets are important
members of the family. And when they’re not as playful
and active as they used to be, we look hard for solutions. Anyone with a large dog
knows hip dysplasia is one of the more common issues. A group of seventh graders
at Providence Day School invented a unique hip
brace, designed to help. As Carolina IMPACT’S
Jeff Rivenbark explains, their hard work won them a
spot in a national competition. JEFF RIVENBARK
(VOICEOVER): The Makerspace is like a large playground, for
students to experiment, create, and invent new things. Part of that, that high up? JEFF RIVENBARK (VOICEOVER):
A 3-D printer hums in the background, while a
group of middle school students huddle on the floor. STUDENT: Wait– I added this. JEFF RIVENBARK (VOICEOVER):
A healthy golden retriever stands patiently, while the
students adjust a prototype hip brace, tailored to
the dog’s frame. Earlier this year,
the students were unable to settle on any idea
for this year’s eCYBERMISSION competition. Students have to find
a real world problem in their communities, and
create a solution using science, technology,
engineering, and math. Science teacher Barbara
Morrow had an idea. BARBARA MORROW:
And I had actually just come home from the vet. Gentle– that’s a girl. JEFF RIVENBARK (VOICEOVER):
Morrow’s 14-year-old dog Sandy suffers from severe
hip dysplasia, a disease of the hip in which the ball
and socket is malformed, causing joints to rub and grind,
instead of sliding smoothly. Sandy has a hard time getting
up, or even going outside. I had said to the
students, wow, you know, I’d really like to see
you guys do something with hip dysplasia in dogs. If you could somehow
try to either minimize the effect that it has on the
mobility of these large breed dogs, or try to extend
the life of these dogs. NANDITA BALAJI: I
felt bad for Sandy, and I wanted to help her. And I thought, if we
could do something to keep that from
happening to another dog, or so that Sandy would feel
less pain and dogs like Sandy wouldn’t have that same problem. JEFF RIVENBARK (VOICEOVER): As
the students’ interest grew, they started meeting
at odd times, during lunch, or
after school, to share what they discovered
about the disease, as well as a possible solution. When the students realized
a veterinarian can either scan or take an MRI
image of a dog’s hips, they came up with an idea–
to enter those measurements into a computer connected
to a 3-D printer, and then print a
piece of plastic customized to a dog’s frame. This could then be inserted
into a strap or a brace around the dog’s hips. We met three of
the four students working on the project. The students with pets
contacted their veterinarians to learn more. BARBARA MORROW: I would act
more as a guide for them. Hey, this is what
you need to learn. This is what you
need to find out. And I would teach them little
things along the way– maybe a little bit of
anatomy here and there, but they were getting
most of what they got, what they learned, from
each visit at the vet. JEFF RIVENBARK (VOICEOVER):
Morrow’s veterinarian, Dr. Marty Davis, says
she was blown away by how much the students
knew when they showed her their prototype. DR. MARTY DAVIS: The
kids were just amazing. They were so purposeful,
they were so earnest, they were so excited. They had obviously
put an enormous amount of thought and work into it. And they were working
with a 3-D printer, which, honestly, I
know very little about. But they schooled me. JEFF RIVENBARK
(VOICEOVER): As finalists in the 13th annual
eCYBERMISSION competition, each of the four
students won $4,000, and participated this summer
in the national competition in Washington, DC. All right, I was
a little surprised, because there were a
lot of students entering the competition,
and it was really cool to feel that all
of us worked so hard, and we got this far. But there must be a practical
application with just about everything we do. JEFF RIVENBARK
(VOICEOVER): Glyn Cowlishaw is the headmaster at
Providence Day School. He says kids learn
best when they can connect a learning concept
with a real life problem. These four students
will continue to have this passion
for learning. But they will continue to
look for design and research solutions, which will not only
serve them well in high school, will prepare them
well for college, but prepare them for a world of
work, and design, and research, problem solving, in
that huge environment out there, because the
world is their oyster. I think probably the most
rewarding thing, as a teacher, is seeing what the kids do
outside of the classroom. So we can light little
sparks inside the classroom, but then seeing them go
outside the classroom and build the flame is probably
the most rewarding thing, as a teacher. JEFF RIVENBARK (VOICEOVER):
While the students didn’t win the
national competition, they’re proud of what they
were able to do as a team. I guess it was
pretty cool to know that we mostly
designed the brace, and reached out to the vets. And I thought it was cool
that how four seventh grade kids were able to design a
brace that would help dogs, and the whole dog community. JEFF RIVENBARK (VOICEOVER):
And if they could come up with a solution to a problem
like this, to help ailing dogs, who knows what they may be
able to invent years from now? For Carolina IMPACT, I’m
Jeff Rivenbark, reporting. Thanks so much, Jeff. If you’d like to learn more
about the Army’s eCYBERMISSION competition, we have a
link posted on our website, at I also want to remind you
about WTVI PBS Charlotte’s third annual STEM competition. Please, watch our website
after the first of the year for details and deadlines. Last year, we recognized
dozens of students and teachers throughout our
region for excellence in science, technology,
engineering, and math. If your high school students
are working on projects right now that are
STEM related, they should enter for a chance to
be recognized in our spring competition. Well, sports often play a huge
part in helping kids at school. We found a new soccer
training academy on Charlotte’s west side
that’s making a difference. The program provides an outlet
for children from low income homes to learn how to
play soccer, study, and learn teamwork. Producer Rodney
Myers shares more. I started the
program because I saw, by working in
local organizations where kids needs to pay a lot
of money to play the sport, I saw the needs
of those kids that really couldn’t afford to play. But they also wanted
to do it, and they didn’t have that opportunity. So two years ago, I decide to
create Creative Player Sports Foundation. I was born and raised in
Montevideo, capital of Uruguay, South America, a small country
down south in South America. I had the opportunity
to play soccer in my country in Uruguay. I always wanted
to work with kids. And that was my dream. What I think about the,
um, Creative Player program is that, um, you can have fun. Um, it’s about teamwork. The most important is
to learn life lessons. They do not live with their
mom or their dad together. Some of them live just with
their mom, some of them just with their dad, some of
them without even any member of their family. They do what they love,
which is play soccer. But they also are
in an environment that we use the soccer ball
as a tool of education. When first I had, like, C’s
and D’s, I was not, uh, like, the– I was not that up. But then, when I got
to the A’s and B’s, I got– I got more ex– I got more
happy, because I– I improved. We got three
different methodology of training and playing. You have an outer
field, artificial turf, that we deal just with the
regular rules of soccer. Then you have this
inner facility, that the ball
never goes outside. It’s great for fitness, because
the ball is always in plays. And then we have– well, we’re
the only ones in Charlotte that build this place–
it’s a beach soccer court. It’s a small soccer
arena, that we mainly do with the kids physical
fitness training. Over there the kids
go, and imagine that they’re in the sand,
jumping, running, sprinting, explosion– but they also play. The most fun part is where
you, like– where you, like, get into a game, and,
like, people start passing. DANIEL ARAUJO
(VOICEOVER): I would like to see this program
establish a consistent training environment, going from three
days a week to six days a week. That’s what I’m looking for. I think that the process of
learning and reaching more kids will give us the
possibility and opportunity to give them the opportunity
they’re looking for. And we’re looking
for partners to help us keep these
programs alive, so we can have over here a
full training program from Monday to Saturday. JAZIM HERNANDEZ:
If you practice, um, you’ll, like, be
good at something. That’s how you’re special. You can learn more about
Creative Player on our website, at Finally tonight, an artist
with an amazing story. When David French moved
to Charlotte 21 years ago, he planned to pursue a
degree in engineering. But he soon realized his
passion was elsewhere. He signed up for art classes
at Central Piedmont Community College, and when
he started feeling a bit more confident
with his painting, he quit his full
time job in 2008, and he’s been doing
art ever since. Producer Rodney Myers is
back again with the details. I’ve chosen to go
to the other route. My unofficial motto is
“art for the people.” And it’s worked out for me. The more I’ve
created my paintings, the more I’ve tried to
listen to what people want, and the more I’ve tried to
give the public what they want. And that has, in turn,
created what I am doing. I had moved to NoDa, and I was
being mentored at this time by a professional mural
painter, Starr Davis. I moved into the red house
behind the “Smelly Cat,” and opened a Friday
night only gallery out of the back of my house. But I went and took
Design 1, to finish up my associate’s degree. That’s when Elizabeth
Spotswood Alexander told me to go paint
whatever I want, and that’s when I painted
the painting of the Athens Restaurant that kickstarted
my Charlotte painting career. You know, what I
was going do, I was gonna go look for
another job, slowly. I worked out those $2,000
worth of commissions, and just found ways and ways,
and many, many blessings later, I’m still self-employed. I haven’t had a job since then. I am 200 and something
paintings into Charlotte now. There’s a very short list
of what I haven’t painted, that are in people’s hearts. Number one is the
White Water Center. High atop my list. That’s what’s in
front of me right now. These days, I do most of
my work here in the studio, using photographs. I’m going to go in, I’m
going to lay the thing out with the grid system– the
one to one grid system, which is great when
you can do one to one. Then you don’t have
to do any math. The truth is. is
that you can paint the most incredible
painting in the world, and if no one knew to find
you, then your painting will drift off into obscurity. You have to find a way to
get into the public’s eye. I think I’m Charlotte’s
number one expert on what people love about Charlotte. I do 20 events and talk to
thousands of people a day. They are coming in my booth,
they are coming in my studio, they’re asking me, do
you have this place? Do you have that place? As I ask people what to
do with my paintings, sometimes, I also run contests
on Facebook and so forth, asking people to
name my paintings. When I finish a painting,
I’ll often ask people, if you come up
with the best name, I’d love to give you a
print of the painting. The number one example–
I did a painting of the Charlotte Knights
baseball stadium, with skyline behind it. And someone came up with “A
Midsummer’s Knight’s Dream.” Which I thought, that
was really great. You can find David
French’s prints in stores all across Charlotte, including
Paper Skyscraper on East Boulevard, Ruby’s Gifts in
NoDa, and Green With Envy, in Plaza Midwood. Would We’ve also got
a link to his website at Well, do you have a
suggestion for a story idea you’d like to see on an
upcoming Carolina IMPACT? We’d love to hear from you. The best way to let us know all
about them, and the details, are by sending us an email
to [email protected] Right now, I’d like to
congratulate Maggie Parson McBee from Gastonia. She just won another
Family Four Pack of tickets to the Carolina
Renaissance Festival. How’d she do it? Well, she friended
us on Facebook. And you could be
our next winner. Please, give us a like. We’ve got more Four Packs
to the Renaissance Festival to give away yet this month,
so we’d absolutely love it if you’d friend us there. Well, that’s all we
have time for this week. From all of us here
at WTVI PBS Charlotte, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate your time, and
hope to see you back here again next time, on Carolina IMPACT. Good night, my friends. NARRATOR 1: Funding
for Carolina IMPACT is provided by the members of
WTVI PBS Charlotte, and by– NARRATOR 2: The Philip
L. Van Every Foundation is pleased to support our
region’s arts organizations and artists, with
profiles and feature stories on Carolina IMPACT. [music playing] NARRATOR 1: A production
of WTVI PBS, Charlotte.

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