Governor Roy Cooper visits Pinewood Elementary

  • Pinewood Elementary celebrates North Carolina A+ School status with visit by Governor Cooper

    Govenor Roy Cooper visit to Pinewooe Elementary School

    Pinewood Elementary in Mount Holly celebrated its distinction as a North Carolina A+ School on December 5 with a special visit by Governor Roy Cooper.

    Cooper spent an hour at the school, touring classrooms, greeting students and teachers, and sharing remarks about the North Carolina A+ School program as well as public education.  He visited Ashley Smith’s kindergarten class, Sarah Brayboy’s second grade class, and Megan Guyton’s fifth grade class to see how teachers and students are adding art concepts to the curriculum.  That’s what the A+ School program is all about, according to principal Kimberly Reese.

    Cooper got to see the arts in action; in each classroom, he heard about how students use and apply artistic thinking to math, reading, science, and other lessons.  He also enjoyed a performance by the school’s show choir (directed by Heather McKoy).  Upon his arrival, Cooper walked the red carpet as the school’s student ambassadors held letters that spelled “Welcome to Pinewood!” and the East Gaston High School marching band drumline (directed by Brandon Taylor) performed. 

    “There is no doubt that the fine arts make a difference in the lives of students,” said Reese in her remarks to Governor Cooper and other state and local officials who attended the celebration.  “How much our students have progressed over the past few years is proof that integrating the arts across the curriculum has a direct influence on student achievement.”

    Pinewood ranks among the elementary schools in Gaston County with the highest student proficiency.  Based on testing and accountability results for the 2022-2023 school year, Pinewood increased its proficiency rate by 5.6 points, and when compared to two years ago, the school is up 11.3 points.  Further, Pinewood exceeded its academic growth expectations, and for the first time ever, the school earned a B performance grade from the state, which is very difficult to achieve, according to Reese.

    Research indicates that arts education is linked to positive academic and social outcomes, increased civic engagement, and improved academic achievement.  Reese also pointed out that students who engage in the arts have higher degrees of empathy and acceptance, and they demonstrate stronger critical thinking skills.

    “I am convinced that our academic progress is because of what our teachers are doing to effectively integrate the fine arts into classroom teaching and learning every single day,” said Reese.  “Not only are we achieving at a higher level, we are helping students gain an understanding of and appreciation for the arts.  Without question, the arts are alive in our classrooms, and it is because of the A+ School program.”

    Pinewood is one of three North Carolina A+ Schools in Gaston County.  The others are Ida Rankin Elementary in Mount Holly and W.A. Bess Elementary in Gastonia.  Schools involved in the A+ program see the fine arts as a foundation for teaching and learning and concentrate on incorporating aspects of art, music, dance, and theater into classroom lessons and activities.

    Pinewood also serves as Gaston County Schools’ performing arts academy for grades K-5.  Students who live outside the Pinewood attendance area can apply to attend Pinewood for the performing arts academy; parents will be able to submit an application in February.