Highlands School begins Aug. 29 with new teachers and a new elective

When students in Macon County return to class for the new school year on Monday, Aug. 29, Highlands students will have a new opportunity for some “hands-on” learning.

This year, Highlands School will be expanding their elective offerings by adding an Agricultural Science curriculum for students. The course will cover all things agriculture from forestry to plants to farming to animals and everything in between. 

The new local elective will allow students to learn all about the science of agriculture and will be taught by Adrienne Watts.

Watts has worked in the Macon County School System for the last two years and currently lives in Franklin with her husband Ethan and their two children, Caroline and Cooper. Watts enjoys growing flowers and vegetables, raising livestock, and volunteering with the Franklin FFA. 

“I am excited to share my passion of agriculture by introducing this new local elective to Highlands School,” said Watts.

While Agriculture Science will be a new offering for Highlands, the course has been previously offered at Franklin High School. The elective expansion for Highlands is part of a district-wide move to provide more career focused electives for students. 

“We know college isn’t the path for every student and it shouldn’t be the only path,” Dr. Chris Baldwin said Monday night during the Board of Education meeting when discussing future plans to incorporate more career-focused education opportunities for students. 

Watts is one of five new faces greeting the 344 students enrolled at Highlands School next week when school begins. 

Crystal Emmons will serve as the school’s new Kindergarten teacher, Beth Jones as the new 4th grade teacher, Jessica Sims as the new Title I teacher, and Dawn Westbrook as the new ITV teacher. 

Pictured at the top of the article are the new teachers at Highlands School from left are Jessica Sims, Title I; Beth Jones, 4th grade; Crystal Jones, Kindergarten; Dawn Westbrook, ITV Coordinator; and not pictured is Adrienne Watts, Agriculture Science, local elective. Submitted photo

Emmons will be replacing Mrs. Covey as she transfers to Highlands’ Middle School Science. Emmons is a graduate of UNC-Greensboro with a Bachelor’s Degree in education and a license in Birth-Kindergarten. She grew up in the Raleigh/Durham area and brings 14 years of experience in early education to Highlands School. 

Jessica Sims and her family recently moved to North Carolina from Florida and brings nine years of experience to Highlands to serve as the new Title I Teacher. 

Dawn Westbrook has worked in the MC School System for the last 15 years and will be transiting to Highlands to work as the school’s new ITV Coordinator. 

The final new teacher joining the Highlands Staff this fall is Beth Jones who will be the school’s new 4th grade teacher. Jones is originally from Iowa and has been visiting the mountains since the early ‘90s. After living in Atlanta and teaching for 16 years, Jones and her husband Tony have relocated to Macon County permanently. 

While all teacher positions are currently filled in Highlands, the school still has one vacancy in the cafeteria. 

“I hope this is the best school year ever for our students, parents, teachers, and staff,” said Franklin High School Principal Brian Jetter. 

By Brittney Lofthouse, The Southern Scoop

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