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MSports, Pages 8-11
Fairley Wants To See Brunswick Students Excel
BY SUSAN USIIKR
William Francis "Bill" Fairley has the distinc
lion of being the only member of the
Brunswick County Board of Education with
children enrolled in the public schools.
That gives this busy Southport attorney at least four
good reasons to want the Brunswick County Schools to
offer the best education possible: Rhync, 13; Laura, 10;
and twins Jack and Emily, 7.
Their education is a responsibility this 39-year-old
Charlotte native doesn't take lightly and a concern that
helps him stay focused on the true business of the school
"Part of my parental obligation is making sure my
children arc responsible adults at age 18, that they arc
capable of being adults when they grow up," he said.
'"Rial is as significant as feeding them, as far as I'm
That parental concern may have made the difference
in his campaign last fall, when Fairley was the only
Republican candidate elected to local office. He defeat
ed former county manager Billy Carter for the District 3
scat, and has been focusing on school system needs ever
Fairley believes that the five members of the board?
three Democrats and two Republicans?all want to help
local public schools change for the better and will sup
port recenUy-hired Superintendent Ralph Johnston's ef
forts to help make that happen.
He wants the board to get a handle on why county
schools aren't performing as they should and set about
fixing the problems as quickly as possible.
"It's pretty clear-cut that it is not just money," he
said. "Brunswick County's per student expenditures are
not miserably low; they are, in fact, above average. Yet
performance is below wh->i most parents want."
He's seen several patU'.i? since moving to Brunswick
County, finding many county high school graduates who
don't want to leave the area but cannot find choice of
"For the most part, from what 1 can see, they are not
exceedingly wcll-cducatcd, even for a high school grad
uate. I didn't want that for my children."
That observation may be related to another pattern
he's seen here that's typical of rural areas in transition: a
number of people who feel the education they had was
satisfactory and have no "burning desire" for their chil
dren to excel.
Sparking that desire to learn, to excel, said Fairley is
the job of the school system. No more simply "settling
for" second best or cast-offs.
Fairley believes a more demanding curriculum, one
that challenges students, is a good place to start.
"Brunswick County Schools don't seem to push as hard
as other school systems," he observed.
He believes setting higher goals for performance?
and expecting people to achieve them?could be the
keys. His philosophy is reflected in the county's new
performance-based accountability plan.
Fairley, with most fellow board members concurring,
has said he would also like to see merit pay for teachers
tied directly to student performance, to students achiev
ing the goals set by their schools in their three-year
Pcrformancc-Bascd Accountability Plans now being
considered by the board.
The county plan also includes another item Fairley
has advocated strongly?pre- and post-testing at every
grade level to determine how students are progressing,
so that they will not be prematurely advanced before
they have the skills needed to do that level of work. Test
STAFF PHOTO BY SUSAN USHU
SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER Bill Fairley is deadly serious when it comes to improving the county's
public schools; however, a sense of humor helps keep a busy schedule in proper perspective.
"You have to lock in on priorities. You can't
teach everything about everything."
data can also be used lo help identify individual teach
ers' strengths and weaknesses, in order to tap the former
and improve the latter.
Education is a subject Fairley warms to easily, leaning
forward at his desk in an airy, second-story office on
Southport's Moore Street. On one side wall hangs art,
including a clever piece by his son. Jack. On the wall
behind him, sunlight streaming in a side window accents
his state license to practice law and diplomas from the
University of North Carolina.
His father. Jack Fairley, also a Southport resident, had
graduated from UNC in 1941 and. Bill Fairley admitted,
"1 grew up wearing a Carolina sweatshirt."
Though he'd never really been away from home be
fore, he didn't hesitate when it came time to leave
Tacoma, Washington, for Chapel Hill in 1971.
Seven years later he didn't hesitate again when it was
time to leave Chapel Hill in the summer of 1978 with
bachelor's degrees in economics and history, a law de
gree, and Tcdi, his wife. An education major and former
teacher, she shares his interest in quality education and
is a school volunteer.
He also left UNC with a job awaiting him in
Southport, doing trial work with none other than former
Judge Ray Walton.
"It happened through an incredible stroke of luck,"
Fairley recalled. He had learned of the opening through
Michael Iscnbcrg, a recent UNC Law School alumnus
and occasional tennis partner who had gone to work in
Southport. Today Fairley and Iscnbcrg share a law prac
ticc with Elva Jess, another Walton protegee.
On a wcck-to-wcck basis, Fairlcy juggles school
board responsibilities with those of his personal and pro
fessional lives. Serving on the board requires much
more than the time allotted to the regular monthly busi
ness meeting. There arc special meetings, committee
meetings, a steady deluge of invitations to attend events
sponsored by individual schools or other agencies, and
phone calls and meetings with parents and others.
After a month in office, however, Fairlcy was sur
prised at the calls he was receiving; he had expected
more. Most have been non-policy issues, questions bet
ter referred to the professional staff.
"1 can't get into whether a teacher is adequate to take
care of her class on a given day," said Fairlcy. "That's
not my job."
The board's job is setting policy, setting the direction
for the system and overseeing the superintendent to
make sure that policies are put into action in keeping
with the board's intent.
From his 1 A years so far as a director of the Governor
Morchead School for the Blind, Fairlcy has learned
lessons he thinks could apply here.
When he joined that board, the Raleigh school had
just experienced a series of administrative and personnel
problems and its mission had gradually expanded to in
clude service to children with multiple problems, many
of them unrelated to vision concerns. It was a situation
that required making drastic changes, in leadership, fo
cus and operation.
"When in a given institution you have to define and
limit what you do," he said. "When you're able to focus
well on a specific thing, you can make strides."
"That experience helped me see the need for defini
tion of purpose. You have to lock in on priorities. You
can't teach everything about everything."
He's concerned that the county schools aren't spend
ing enough time teaching critical areas such as math and
science, which arc important to key career areas of the
future and which showed up as areas of weakness on the
system's state report card.
Along with a solid core curriculum, he wants gradu
ates to be able to think critically and solve problems, to
have the skills they need to take their place in the com
munity as adults.
"There's a fundamental difference between what we
had to learn to get by and what children today have to
learn to get by," he said.
He's working to make sure students get the skills they
need, all the while trying to maintain a low profile on
He routinely examines ideas and proposals presented
to the board in terms of their practicality and how they
relate to the board's vision for education, always press
ing for higher expectations.
Quiet spoken but determined, Fairlcy isn't afraid to
ask questions. However, unlike predecessors on the
board, he promises "no screaming or yelling, no fist
A typical Fairley question is an intense "Why should
we settle for less?"?as when only half the money need
ed to finish stocking Supply Elementary School's library
was first included in the first budget draft for next yeart
A member of the budget committee, he was con
cerned last week by a proposal to split the S50,(XX) for
book purchases over a two-year period.
"It seemed absurd to me for a school to have half a li
brary," he said quietly, yet forcefully the night the full
board met for their first look at the budget. Heads nod
ded. Who could disagree?
West Spanish Teacher Accepts Fulbright Exchange To Chile
BY SUSAN USHER v' V 1 pi j community where you are assigned, you arc the Unilcd
After four years encouraging her West BB ,ffi'y fyjStates."
Brunswick High School students to participate BV ,, iff Her screening included an interview conductcd in
in a foreign exchange program, Spanish tcacher ^B * B Spanish and English in Charlotte last Nov. 7 which she
Beth Feller Pupp is going to do it herself. H apparently passed without difficulty.
The Shallotte Point resident was recently selected H Kjg ^8|Mk '"-J "I think my having been an exchange student before,
from a field of more than 1,200 applicants for 220 slots H .* J" v having already handled all those things, made it so I
in the prestigious Fulbright Teacher Exchange Program H JflL p Jdidn't have to hesitate all when answering," she said,
operated by the U.S. Information Agency. ? . M*V ? 'Ifll W As part of the IJ.S.-Chile agreement, Pupp will ro
ll will N: quite different from her first exchange ex- ? MXL'j ceive round-trip transportation and a SI,OCX) allowance
pcrience more than 20 years ago. This time Pupp will Br SflnHft , for purchase of classroom materials that will be donat
bc swapping teaching posts with a public school B 3""'? cd to her host school in Chile.
teachcr in Chile, a long, narrow, mountainous country B ??}*j?;. 4.A, Instead of Spanish, she'll be teaching another sub
on the west America. She's brimming Ip jeet in she has an a
with excitement and with ideas as she begins i^. jyg; Language (ESL). conduct classes for
planning for the year ahead. I.^SIBg*: through 18 in an all-girls'school.
Pup will be on in Chile, an no j,v ;jf ^ Arriving the school
host family to feed and house her; but with fellow fac- .v>WaLW' year< shc wi" remain through the December-March
ully members and perhaps the United Methodist ^ pi 1V* , jSflfl^B^^^^HHfl^BIBIflE ^ J \ summer break, then teach the first half of another
Church as part of her network of fellowship. A mem- jmKgF^j ^ ? school year before returning stateside.
bcr of Seaside United Methodist Church's missions <&*$? #????? Along with a new subject, shc may also have to
committee, it seems only natural that shc already has adopt a new approach in the classroom. While Chilean
names and addresses so shc can contact churchcs and , jflj schools often rely heavily on lccturc, shc has cmpha
missionarics in the area. si/cd student participation and hands-on learning and a
She'll be shopping for size 39 shoes, counting mon- jSP ? ,.multimedia approach in her language classes.
cy in pesos and mileage in meters, and mentally con- <jflL ? Her students may praclicc their oral Spanish playing
verting Centigrade to Fahrenheit when checking the a game of "telephone" or their written skills penning
weather. But those cultural differences will make up /V mLm teasing messages to fellow students. They team about
only a tiny part of her cxpcricncc. fMexican eulture and occasionally cat together
On paid leave as a Brunswick County Schools em- Mr W Mexican-style restaurants or prepare their own
ploycc, shc will travel in July to San Felipe, a city of Mexican menu.
about 30,000 people in central Chile north of Santiago f?B: Pupp's enthusiasm and succcssful techniques helped
and cast of the resort area of Vina Del Mar. Shc will be S her earn recognition as West Brunswick's Tcachcr of
switching jobs with Olga Elizabeth Alvaros, who is the jSP ?Sff the Year two years ago.
head of the English department at her licco (lee say' SB ? When shc camc to West Brunswick four years ago,
oh) or general secondary school. After exchanging let- Ml J Pupp had not taught since 1975 and had been cm
tcrs and phone calls for several months, the two will SIMI <\ ^^^^B^^HBIBHiBBBfll^^^^^Hv ployed with private businesses as a translator and in
meet in Santiago during orientation. siah photo by susan ushw sales.
Alvaros will arrive here in August to teach at West FULBRIGHT EXCHANGE TEACHER Reth Feller Pupp shows senior James Bellamy, a Spanish II That first year enrollment in the foreign language
Brunswick High School, in the first teacher exchange student, where she'll be stationed come July: San Felipe, Chile. program was so low shc taught an English class in ad
ever for the 20-year-old school. Part of Pupp's commit- dnion to four Spanish classcs. She's achieved both her
ment to the exchange program is to return to West "It was wonderful. 1 didn't know a word of Spanish, The Fulbright program lakes its name from the late initial goals, which were to expand the department and
Brunswick once her year-long assignment ends. but you learn quickly. It was survival," she recalled. Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas, sponsor of the to establish a foreign exchange program.
Pupp's first exchange experience in 1970 required During that memorable year she relied heavily on ges- 1946 act which provided for the exchange of students This year West has 10 Spanish classcs and two full
giving up her senior year of high school in turcs and on a English-Spanish dictionary that was torn and tcachers between the United States and many other time Spanish teachers. Pupp's former students arc eam
Philadclphia, Pa., and graduating with the next class, and tattered by the end of the year. Shc stayed with two countries. Participants arc screened rigorously for pro- ing good credits on collcge placement tests. Next year
She's never regretted the decision. host families in Chihuahua and also took Spanish lan- fcssionalism, adaptability and flexibility in handling the school plans to offer Spanish III for the first time
Shc had applied to the Rotary International guagc courscs at the local university. cultural and economic differences, language proficicn- and to sponsor its first outbound American Field
Exchange program expecting placement in France or a This time shc again didn't get exactly what shc cy, seriousness of purpose and commitment, and for Service exchange student?and Pupp won't be here to
French-speaking country. Instead, shc got Mcxico. asked for, but has no complaints. "1 had wanted six their ability to represent the Unilcd States. share in the cxcitcmcnt
Always open to a new cxpcricncc or adventure, shc ac- months in Argentina and I got a year in Chile," said "You are an ambassador for the United States. That's "For me this is going to be another adventure," shc
cepted. Pupp. the big thing here," said Pupp. "For the people in the said. "But I'm really going to miss my students."