Eagle, by Mariah Morris, in being named North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year. Morris, a second-grade teacher at West Pine Elementary School, is the first Moore County Schools teacher to win the statewide honor.

“Mariah’s second-graders are fortunate to have her as their teacher,” said State Superintendent Mark Johnson, “and North Carolina is fortunate to have her in the classroom, helping to inspire and shape a future generation of North Carolinians to be ready to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

Morris has impressed colleagues, supervisors, parents and students over the years with her commitment, vision and creativity in the classroom. She will now spend much of the next year going around the state as an example of the work being done in Moore County Schools.

Birdie, by the Moore County Department of Social Services Board, for selecting an experienced and highly regarded professional as the next director of the county’s DSS.

Tammy Schrenker comes to the agency with more than 20 years of experience in social work. She is currently director of the Wayne County Department of Social Services and has led departments in Stanly and Richmond counties.

In 2017, she was voted Director of the Year by the North Carolina Association of County Directors of Social Services, of which she is a past president.

“In my opinion, Miss Schrenker’s got big shoes to fill,” said DSS board member John Kerr. “But I think Miss Schrenker has plenty of good experience and leadership qualities.”

The board took two years to find the right person. In the interim, the department has been capably led by Laura Cockman, who was roundly praised last week by DSS board members for steadying the agency.

Birdie, by the Moore County Solid Waste Division, for the successful launch of its glass-only recycling efforts. The county set up separate receptacles for glass earlier this year as a way to reduce the weight — and per ton costs — of recyclables coming in from households. Recycling costs have exploded in the past year, going from $25 a ton to $100 a ton. So cutting weight is a way of controlling costs.

The county began collecting glass separately in late February. According to early numbers, the county took in 55.7 tons for March. In the first two weeks of April, that figure is 60.5 tons.

“This is a strong indication that most citizens want to recycle even if they have to take additional steps to do so,” Solid Waste Director Chad Beane said in an email. “We pride ourselves on trying to make it as convenient as possible, but even after we have asked to segregate glass from recycling we are still seeing some substantial numbers thus far.”

Moore County is getting national notice for its recycling strategy, something that will serve us well going forward.

Birdie, by the students on the West Pine Elementary, West Pine Middle and Pinecrest High School teams, for their creativity and success in the annual Odyssey of the Mind contest.

Moore County Schools students will comprise four teams at the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals in late May at Michigan State University, having qualified earlier this month at the state finals.

The teams work all school year, including Saturdays, building robotic vehicles, cobbling together costumes and sketching out storylines executed all within an eight-minute routine. In the process, they learn about collaboration, creative problem-solving and out-of-classroom learning that touches multiple academic disciplines — all in the name of fun.

“To see that the program has become this big and we’re sending so many teams to Worlds this year is amazing,” said Ava Wellener, a Pinecrest sophomore who has participated since elementary school. “I think it’s changed my way of thinking. Doing Odyssey really forces you, if you’re confronted with a problem, to solve it.”

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