Special Report to Blowing Rock News from Watauga County Schools. By Marshall Ashcraft. May 25, 2015. VALLE CRUCIS, NC — Sixth grader Valerie Kitchell and second grader Sarrah Kitchell, students at Valle Crucis School, have each won honors at the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCCTM) State Math Fair held at the North Carolina School of Science and Math earlier this month.
Valerie Kitchell took first place in the middle school division with her project “Pencils, Pens, and Profit: Using Linear Programming to Maximize Profit at Our School Store.” Sarrah Kitchell won third place in the primary grades (K-2) division with her project “Causation, Correlation and Cold: Does Winter Weather Cause School Absences Due to Sickness?”
Both girls advanced to state competition after their strong showings in the NCCTM Western Region Math Fair at Appalachian State University in March. Valerie won first place in the middle school division and Sarrah won second place in the primary grades division at this regional event. There are three regional competitions and the finalists from each region qualify for the State Math Fair.
Sarrah and Valerie are the daughters of Mike Kitchell and Megan Hayes. Not surprisingly, the girls have had strong support for their work both at home and in school. “Mike and I feel it is incredibly important to get young students, especially girls, involved in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects early on and continue to reinforce these skills,” remarked Hayes. The parents expressed deep appreciation for the support Sarrah and Valerie have received at school, especially from teachers Kris Hagaman, Laura Carter, and Laura Huber. “These teachers embody the best of the profession and we are so fortunate to have them in our children’s lives.”
Hayes credits Valle Crucis Kindergarten teacher Kris Hagaman for spurring Valerie and Sarrah to participate in the Math Fair. “She got Sarrah involved her Kindergarten year and worked closely with her on her project, and in addition to continuing to support Sarrah, she inspired Valerie to get involved as well.” Hayes stated that Valerie has “changed from a child convinced she was bad at math to one who has confidence with the subject and now aspires to attend the North Carolina School of Science and Math. We cannot thank Mrs. Hagaman enough for this gift.”
Hayes also praised the work of Carter and Huber in supporting Sarrah and Valerie. “Laura Carter was simply amazing with her support of both girls last year, especially in her role as Sarrah’s classroom teacher, and Laura Huber has been incredibly enthusiastic and generous with her time in supporting Sarrah and Valerie this year.”
Laura Huber, who teaches second grade, is Valle Crucis School’s “Teacher of the Year” for 2015-16. Hagaman and first grade teacher Laura Carter are former “Teachers of the Year” at Valle Crucis. In addition to their work encouraging Sarrah and Valerie in preparing their Math Fair projects, each of these teachers spent an entire Saturday attending the regional competition to support the girls.
Hayes said the family was also very grateful for the support of Valle Crucis teachers Erin Thompson and Amber Cooper, “who cheered Valerie on, supported her, and accommodated her schedule so she could practice her presentation as often as possible.”
Valle Crucis School is one of eight K-8 schools in the Watauga County system and has a current enrollment of 356 students. Students at Valle Crucis score well above statewide averages on the state’s End-of-Grade proficiency tests in reading, math, and science.