Volunteers help students improve

Published 12:33 am Tuesday, January 24, 2012

In separating its high school from its middle school, Chocowinity has seen its share of changes.

Chocowinity High School is no more. It merged with Aurora High School to form Southside High School, but Richard Potter and Ed Harris are two constants who keep coming back.

When not helping in the concession stand at Southside High School, Bill Potter makes a difference by working with students in Melanie Taylor’s fifth-grade class, helping them improve reading skills. (Submitted Photo/Beaufort County Schools)

Potter, a 1974 Chocowinity High School graduate, volunteers five days a week at Chocowinity schools — two days at Chocowinity Middle School and three days at Chocowinity Primary.

“Teachers don’t always have much time, and some kids need that extra one-on-one,” Potter said.

Potter is employed full-time, but he works with students in Melanie Taylor’s fifth-grade class to improve reading skills.

Potter also gives spelling tests to students. He recently began offering math remediation at Chocowinity Primary School because of schedule changes.

“I let them know what they are doing and help them understand,” he said, explaining that if a student misses 10 of 25 math problems, he or she is sent to him for help.

Whether working concessions, participating in Boosters Club events at Southside High School, helping with Field Day or assisting with reading events in which parents come to the school and read to their children, Potter is making a difference.

Lisa Baker, school information officer and media coordinator at Chocowinity Middle School, said Potter is a volunteer at many events.

“He loves interacting with students, and they are excited when they see his familiar face,” she said in a letter to the Daily News.

Harris also makes a difference as a volunteer at Chocowinity Middle School during the entire school day on Thursdays.

After retiring after working in school systems in Pennsylvania and Connecticut, Harris has helped teach fifth-grade math in Kellyn Wright’s class for five years.

Retirement did not change his views on education or his belief in the learning process.

“I got into education primarily because I have an interest in kids learning. As we progress, we can make a difference in their life,” Harris said.

A test score of less than 85 gets a student a one-on-one session with him, Harris said.

Working on basic math skills and word problems is how Harris helps students build skills toward end-of-grade testing.

Ed Harris has been working with fifth-grade students in Kellyn Wright’s class for five years now, teaching math. (Submitted Photo/Beaufort County Schools)

Harris, who served as a principal and superintendent, is a volunteer coach for a local Upward basketball program. He will coach boys and girls this season. At Thanksgiving, he participates in the food distribution program at First Free Will Baptist Church.

When asked what’s important in the classroom, Harris and Potter offered their views.

“Sometimes you learn with them, try to reach them and if things are not working, try something else,” Harris said.

“Moral lessons are also important. Like telling them that stealing pencils from cousins — behaviors like these are not acceptable,” Potter said.