Planting a Seed Is Just the Beginning

This grant was awarded to Pisgah Forest Elementary 5th grade Math and Science teacher Joshua Thaxton for 3 hydroponic vertical gardens.  The $2380 TCSEF grant enabled Thaxton to introduce PFE 4th and 5th graders to a STEM-based agricultural project that supports many of the subjects taught in these grade levels.

5th grade science teacher Joshua Thaxton watches as Lucy Murray harvests a few leaves of bok choy for the class tasting.

5th grade science teacher Joshua Thaxton watches as Lucy Murray harvests a few leaves of bok choy for the class tasting.

While the rest of us are planning our early spring and summer gardens, the students in Joshua Thaxton’s Pisgah Forest Elementary (PFE) School’s fifth grade classroom are harvesting their first lettuces and bok choy.  Right after Transylvania County’s last significant snow, Thaxton unpacked the three hydroponic gardens funded through a Transylvania County Schools Education Foundation grant.

What is a hydroponic garden?  Technically hydroponics is a method of growing plants in water without soil.  A nutrient solution is added to the water to feed plants, usually grown from seed.  In these gardens, both water and lights are on timers, so that the seeds sprout under optimum conditions.

Thaxton’s class has a fully functioning garden–tower, cage, grow lights.  Another fifth grade classroom and a fourth grade classroom have a tower and cage.  Since the TCSEF grant covered all the towers but only one set of lights, Thaxton rigged up full-spectrum lights in the other two classrooms.  The additional lights were funded by the PFE parent organization ROPE (Ranger Organization of Parents and Educators).  A science and math teacher, Thaxton joked that this was the first experiment: which tower(s) would grow the healthiest plants?  Which plants would grow most quickly?

So what’s going on here?  Is this just some fancy science experiment?  Actually, yes, but it’s so much more.  This is what educators call project-based learning.  Through this one TCSEF-funded grant, students are learning math, science, reading, writing, vocabulary, food science, and agriculture.  They’re also learning “soft skills” like collaboration, responsibility, sharing, observation, cooperation, respect for others’ opinions–the list goes on and on.

Shelby Moore (front) and Elizabeth Chapman (rear) cut a few bok choy leaves for the class to taste.

Shelby Moore (front) and Elizabeth Chapman (rear) cut a few bok choy leaves for the class to taste.

To illustrate, let’s visit Thaxton’s Tuesday morning class.  It’s a chilly March morning but inside, the bok choy , lettuce, basil, and tomatoes are thriving.  A month ago the students had planted the seeds in specially formulated pods and placed them in the grow tower.  Twice a week, one student is given the responsibility of checking the pH of the water, notifying the teacher if an adjustment is necessary.

Today is harvest time and the children are excited.  First Thaxton gifts me with a beautiful head of lettuce; this is the beginning of another experiment.  One table is given a new pod and instructed to plant new lettuce seeds.  Another table is given scissors to thin out the larger lettuce leaves, leaving the smaller ones to continue to grow.  After the class defines the term “thinning,” they begin to speculate which of the pods will grow better, which will be healthier, which will be ready to pick more quickly–the new pod or the thinned ones?  Thaxton asks them if some heads were thinned more heavily than others, would this make a difference?

Then it’s time to harvest.  As each table group comes up to the tower to “scalp” a head, they put their lettuce leaves into a tub.  The next experience will be a tasting one. But before that,  it’s time to harvest a few bok choy leaves, too.  Few of the students have ever tried bok choy, so now is the time.  Which will they prefer, the bok choy or the lettuces?  What is different about the taste of the bok choy and the lettuces?

The school cafeteria has generously donated packets of salad dressing for the taste test.  Is the lettuce (or the bok choy) better with or without the dressing? “The lettuce is pretty bland without it,” one student admits.  Another student has never tasted French dressing before–and likes it!  Is the bok choy spicy or bitter? They talk about the surface, body, and after-taste. (Very refined thoughts about the palate!) Once the tomatoes are grown, can they have a salad-making contest?  Questions, answers, ideas, predictions, process, observation–all in the matter of minutes as students harvest and enjoy eating the fruits of their labors.

Aylah Salter and Eric Goolsby are sampling the fruits of their labor during the lettuce and bok choy tasting.

Aylah Salter and Eric Goolsby are sampling the fruits of their labor during the lettuce and bok choy tasting.

At this point, Thaxton has the students clean up their places and open their science journals.  He has six questions for them to ponder and answer about their garden, including one that asks, “What variable (light, weather, seasons, water, other) has the most impact on the growth of the plants? Why?”  Their answers are intriguing.

One student speculates that it is the light because “the water isn’t running all the time–you can hear it cycle on and off–but the lights stay on all day.”

Another counters that it is the water because “the cells [pods], seeds, lights, and tower are there, but nothing happens until you add the water.”

Still another says it is both light and water.  “If you look down at the bottom, the plants aren’t getting as much light and all the fresh water goes to the top first.  The lights are on the top, so the bottom isn’t getting as much of either.”

“Perhaps we should have said other or all of the above,” weighed in another student.  The group nodded in agreement, seemingly satisfied at least temporarily.

Predictions, the scientific method, data gathering and management, measurement, critical thinking, justifying your opinions with evidence, nature, growing things, life cycles, full circle experiments–all factor into these fifth graders’ single hour with Mr. Thaxton and the hydroponic garden.  And after spring break, they will add their LearnPads to the project-based environment, with graphs and photos incorporated into a digital portfolio called Seesaw, so that parents can be a part of this TCSEF grant-supported scientific experience called hydroponic gardening.

Thaxton readily admits that none of this would have been possible without a grant from the Transylvania County Educational Foundation.  Each year the Foundation uses the profits from its annual fundraising event Taste of Transylvania to award grants to worthy teachers.  The grants themselves are competitive, with teachers from across schools and grade levels applying for projects that go above and beyond the school system’s annual budget.  Last year, the Transylvania Educational Foundation awarded 25 grants worth more than $18,000.  

Photo Credits:  Kevin Smith, Transylvania County Schools
Frances Bryant Bradburn is the 1:1 Teaching and Learning Consultant as part of a Golden LEAF Foundation grant to the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University.




It’s a Robot Invasion!

Transylvania County Schools is being invaded by robots–robotics, that is.  Across the county, middle schoolers are learning to build, problem-solve, explore, and collaborate as they compete in robotics competitions both formal and informal.

2016-2-7-48440AYou’ve probably read about Brevard Middle School’s (BMS) success at both the regional and state levels.  In November their robotics team came in second in the regional Lego Challenge Competition and eighteenth in the state.

Competing in a Lego Challenge isn’t just a building block construction contest.  It consists of four projects designed around a theme.  This year’s theme was trash.  Middle school students not only had to design a robot that could complete a series of tasks–think drive up to, load, run, and unload a trash compactor–but, in the research component of the competition, choose an item that is currently not easily recycled in our community and design a system to recycle it more efficiently.  BMS students chose electronics recycling, learning how to scrap all those individual parts to collect a final weight of 425 pounds of recycled electronics for the competition!

IMG_0290BMS AIG Teacher  Heidi Spradlin and science teacher Justin Ausburn originally chose robotics to support the AIG curriculum, but interest soon spread throughout the school.  Now during its second year, they advise an after school club that meets as frequently as two times a week and has up to thirty-seven members, all learning how to program Lego robots and eventually Arduino robots to complete tasks of their own design.

Yes, Brevard Middle School’s success warrants headlines, but much is happening in other schools across the county as well.  Rosman Middle School (RMS) has added robotics to the Career and Technical Education (CTE) curriculum.  Together CTE teacher Chris Owen and media coordinator Sarah Justice introduce eighth grade students to the science of robotics and where they already exist in everyday life. ( A great example is the Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner.)  Then they divide students into groups to take a bristlebot through a maze that they design themselves.  Using straws, cardboard, hot glue guns, and a variety of small objects, they maneuver a small nail brush-sized robot around corners, through tunnels, and over objects to win a high-five from their fellow students and Mr. Owen.

Robotics_RosmanRMS students can also get in on the robotic action through their after school Lego Club.  When I visited recently, I watched a group of eight boys unpack two new Lego kits that consist of hundreds of Legos and its robot “brain” and begin to build.  Watching the group was fascinating.

One group methodically unpacked and sorted every piece into its proper compartment in the tray the kit provided. Another group just started building, opening several bags of pieces, piling them together on the media center table and improvising.  An interesting exchange ensued.  

One student, obviously disturbed at the lack of order and process, admonished his friend, “We should follow the instructions.”

“Instructions are boring,” his friend countered.

“No.  Instructions are like laws.  We need them.”

“Lego instructions aren’t laws; they’re suggestions.”

Trial and error will eventually determine whose plan is more productive, but one can only imagine the life lessons that are going on during this exchange!

And there’s a lot of trial and error.  Students build their robots, program them on the media center computers, bring them to the specially designed table to run through their tasks, and then analyze what worked and what didn’t.  With AIG teacher Brandy Glendening and Justice asking questions to prompt students to re-think their designs, students go back to the computer or tinker with their robot’s design to ultimately “get it right.”

Yes, it’s a process and a design that teaches students (and teachers) to fail, problem-solve, test, and perhaps fail again.  They are using Math, science concepts, logic, creativity, and goal-setting, all the while learning to work together to complete a task.

Working together isn’t just for students.  None of this would have happened if not for a collaboration among Transylvania County’s 4-H program, Transylvania County’s Education Foundation, and the school system.  

To get the middle schools’ started with robotics, Transylvania County and 4-H Youth Development Extension Agent Mary Arnaudin loaned both BMS and RMS Lego robotic kits.  A small cadre of teachers were trained by Dr. Misty Blue-Terry, 4-H STEM specialist at NC A&T, during a 2-day professional development session.  Since that time, RMS/RHS media coordinator Sarah Justice has trained Transylvania County Schools’ teachers and administrators in basic Lego robotics as well.  The Transylvania Education Foundation provided grants to Rosman Middle School for a Lego Challenge Kit and to Brevard Middle School for twelve Arduino Kits, and the school system has found ways to spread the science budget to help schools purchase their own robot kits.  This allows Arnaudin to share the 4-H “seed kits” with other schools.  The Brevard High School shop class even built the Lego Challenge table for RMS.
Yes, robotics is spreading across Transylvania County, but it’s more than a simple after-school club or mini-class at the elementary and middle school levels.  It’s a commitment from educators in Transylvania County to provide relevant, engaging opportunities for students that help keep them interested and excited in school, opens their eyes to a possible future career, and teaches them such basics as perseverance, problem-solving, and collaboration.

Photo Credits: Kevin Smith, Transylvania County Schools
Frances Bryant Bradburn is the 1:1 Teaching and Learning Consultant as part of a Golden LEAF Foundation grant to the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University.

3 Grants = 1 6-Week Unit Reaching 240 Students

What happens when you merge three grants–a Transylvania County Schools Educational Foundation(TCSEF) grant, a Haywood Electric Bright Ideas grant, and a building-level grant?  You get an entire project-based unit that focuses on communication, critical thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, and creativity.

Cali Photo 1This is what Brevard Elementary School (BES) media coordinator Charlene Cali has done in her “On Cloud Nine” Technology Stations project.  Over the past year, Cali has combined the TCSEF grant of $846 (for a laptop, 40” Insignia TV, and connecting cables), a $1956 Bright Ideas grant (for four Nexus tablets, two Wonder Robots, Makey Makey and Squishy Circuits kits, and Augmented Reality Books and Puzzles), and a BES principal-sponsored grant for a SmartBoard to enable her to transform the BES Media Center into a 21st Century center for learning. The current “On Cloud Nine” unit contains six weeks of interactive lessons that support the NC Standard Course of Study and the Common Core curriculum.

The day I visited Cali in the media center, she was introducing six new learning stations to Mrs.Morris’ fourth grade class.  By the end of the week, all the school’s fourth and fifth grade classes will have cycled through the media center and experienced the first of their six stations.  Each station focuses on a different technology and a different curriculum concept.  Each class is divided into six groups, with each group working at one station each week for the six weeks leading up to the end of the school year.

Station One was a makerspace station.  Each student cut out 3D glasses from a pattern after watching a YouTube video that explained the process.  Cali reminded the students that the blue acetate covered the right eye opening of the glasses; the red covered the left eye.  After they made the glasses, the students could watch a video of a 3D Virtual Roller Coaster Ride.

Trying to cut out the glasses and colored acetate, taping the acetate to the cut out eye portions, and attaching the ear pieces to the glasses was a challenge.  Students had to figure out how to cut out the eye sockets.  (I wondered if playing with paper dolls was a prior value-add as one of the girls in the group told the boys how to do this.)  Once this task was actually accomplished, the video viewing began.  Students asked such questions as “What happens if the acetate colors are reversed? (The video isn’t 3D.) Why?  (Using red and blue lenses tricks the brain into seeing 3D.  Each eye sees a slightly different image.)  What happens if you view the video without your glasses? (It’s blurry and “weird.”)  There’s a lot of sophisticated science here, but the students are getting an introduction to how the human brain works.

The second station was an interactive puzzle.  Students were challenged to put together a complex puzzle of the solar system. Even though another class had started the puzzle, it still wasn’t completed by the end of the fifty minute class.  Once the puzzle is actually complete, all students will get to use the Planets Puzzle app on the Nexus tablets to begin to research how the planets relate and interact in space.

What was the value of working on this puzzle even though the group did not finish the task?  Spacial and process skills are hard to teach, but important throughout life.  Puzzles help students acquire these skills and perhaps more importantly, also work on the intangible skill of persistence.  Most of us can relate to wanting to throw up our hands in the middle of a tedious task and walk away.  These four students in the puzzle group stuck with the task the entire class.  Bravo!

Station three had everyone who walked in the media center mesmerized.  Two Wonder Robots named Dot (with one eye) and Dash (with two eyes) needed to be programmed to do certain things like roll across the room or navigate around the group’s table and chairs.  This coding activity reviewed the coding concepts taught during the district’s Hour of Code in December and challenged both pairs of students to figure out how to code a new device and collaborate together to do so.

Imagine how excited the Station Four group was.  They got to take the digital camera throughout the school, each student taking one picture.  When they returned to the media center, they were to download their pictures into a presentation that would challenge their classmates to figure out “Where in the School Is This?”  Fortunately the school’s Instructional Technology Facilitator (ITF), Alyse Hollingsworth, was there to help the children download their pictures, figure out how to rotate them if necessary, and add a caption.  At the end of class, Cali previewed the photos for the rest of the class to solve.  How much fun this will be when all groups add their pictures to the presentation!

Station Five was a hard one.  This group used the Makey Makey kit to create circuits using everyday items like bananas and Play Doh.  Another adult, district ITF Vera Cubero, was there to help the students put the circuits together and asked such important questions as “What does he need that you all have?” (a ground)  Why don’t we hook up our grounds together and see what happens?” (They could play notes on a virtual keyboard–although they never quite got a coherent tune.)  Students experimented by putting a quarter in the Play Doh and becoming the ground themselves by holding the wire, and many more combinations, challenging themselves to understand the principle of circuits, grounds, and collaborative problem-solving, all while using the scientific method.

The final station used the SmartBoard so that the group of students could practice coding using Scratch and Botlogic coding language.  They could move puzzle pieces around this large interactive board simply by touching the board.  They were, however, on a ten or twelve second time limit to complete the programming.  Not as easy as it looked!  Again, this was reinforcing the coding skills learned earlier in the school year and demonstrated the value of focusing and problem-solving together to reach a common goal.

A lot was going on in that media center, all with approximately twenty-three students in fifty minutes with three adults collaborating and guiding the students to gain the most from these interactive experiences.  But none of this richness would have been possible without the vision and generosity of three separate funding sources.  When citizens contribute through a direct gift to the Transylvania County Schools Education Foundation or purchase tickets to the Taste of Transylvania, they ensure that creative and persistent teachers like Cali can enrich their classrooms with 21st century tools that inspire communication, creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and problem-solving through one or more grants that reward their vision and hard work.

Photo Credits: Kevin Smith, Transylvania County Schools
Frances Bryant Bradburn is the 1:1 Teaching and Learning Consultant as part of a Golden LEAF Foundation grant to the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University.

It’s a Battery-Powered Buggy Challenge!

BHS Physical Science teacher Matt Tuckey assists Zhenya Parker as he solders for the first time.

BHS Physical Science teacher Matt Tuckey assists Zhenya Parker as he solders for the first time.

If you’re familiar with the scent of solder, you’ll know what I encountered when I walked into Matt Tuckey’s Brevard High School Physical Science classroom. School hadn’t even started, but students were huddled together in pairs putting the finishing touches on their cars. They were alternating between the hot glue gun and the soldering iron, attaching wires and glueing batteries in place on their cars’ bodies. One pair of students was happily painting a plastic drink bottle, another pair was voicing frustration. Their car was only running backwards and in circles. When I inquired as to why that was happening, they confessed that they had put the motor on backwards. “It’s too late to change now,” they said. “We’ll just have to make it work.”

All this well-managed chaos was in preparation for the Battle of the Battery-Powered Buggies Challenge, an Education Foundation grant-funded project that Tuckey had designed to teach simple machines, power, motion, and dynamics. As one of the students explained, “We’re tying up the whole kinetics unit. We’re going out with a bang!”

The students had three separate challenges for their buggy. The distance/time race, the tractor pull, and the uphill climb. Students were given a gear set, a motor, a 9-volt battery and connections. They had to come up with their wheels, axles, and bodies using anything not originally intended for that purpose

They experimented (and learned) a lot. If the body of the car was too wide, the air wouldn’t flow around it efficiently and it would be slow. If the wheels were too large, it would topple over. If the wheels were out of alignment, it would go around in circles.

And they had strategies to solve those problems. Rubber bands on the right back wheels might keep the buggy traveling in a straight path instead of veering left. The large wheels (made out of old CDs) might be more stable with weights in the body of the car. And slowness might not be so bad if the buggy went in a straight line all the way to the finish line!

Soon after class began, Tuckey directed the students to the hall where he had set up a starting line for the distance/time race, the first of the three challenges. Each pair of students raced their vehicle individually, with Tuckey holding the stopwatch. They had three tries to go thirty feet. They received points for time and distance, with the ultimate winner receiving a few extra points on their final grade for bragging rights.

The race itself was fun, funny, and a learning experience. These students were well aware that this was a trial run and they would soon be competing with the other Physical Science classes who were working on the same challenge.

Toy cats PD and Jelly add ballast and smiles to one of the class buggies.

Toy cats PD and Jelly add ballast and smiles to one of the class buggies.

The first buggy to race was the one deemed “the cat car” because its owners had glued two cats to the body of the racer. It slowly rolled in circles half way down the track. The second buggie threw a wheel soon out of the starting line prompting one young man to half-jokingly ask, “Hey, does the wheel count as distance?” When one buggy balked and sputtered, the young lady asked Tuckey if they could use “their” battery. She had realized theirs was a used battery rather than new and so didn’t create such a burst of energy as the car started.

What was most fascinating about this whole experience? Everyone failed! Yes, every car got picked up by its students and taken back to the classroom for repairs, additions, or complete reconception. But the students didn’t see it as failure. As one student muttered, “Well, this will help us figure out what to do next time.”

It’s a perfect example of what educators call “failing forward.” Every buggy modification, every run on the challenge course or pull of the tractor added to the students’ understanding of motion, dynamics, and simple (and complex!) machines. Every change in design involved critical thinking and problem-solving. Add a rubber band here, tape the battery connections there: these were solutions creatively proposed and implemented on the fly.

Mary Grace Aubrey readies her buggy at the starting line of the Top Speed Challenge portion of the Battle of the Battery-powered Buggies.

Mary Grace Aubrey readies her buggy at the starting line of the Top Speed Challenge portion of the Battle of the Battery-powered Buggies.

Students were learning so much from a single project: not just motion, velocity, simple machines, traction, gears, how batteries work; but how to collaborate, problem-solve, think critically, and persevere. Perhaps the most important lesson embedded in all this creativity and fun? How to recover positively from failure–how to fail forward.

Yes, Tuckey’s Education Foundation grant was for $522. $72 for motors, $42.90 for gears, $209.50 for batteries, and additional dollars for small items necessary for the project. But as the commercial says, the lessons learned? Priceless!

This year’s Taste of Transylvania will be held on May 2, 2017, at The Lumberyard. For more information and to purchase tickets, go to

Photo Credits: Kevin Smith, Transylvania County Schools
Frances Bryant Bradburn is the 1:1 Teaching and Learning Consultant as part of a Golden LEAF Foundation grant to the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at North Carolina State University.

2016/2017 Jim Bob & Dottie Tinsley Journalism Scholarship Recipients Announced

The Transylvania County Schools Educational Foundation (TCSEF) is proud to announce the 2016/2017 recipients for the Jim Bob and Dottie Tinsley Journalism Scholarship.

porter_photoJessica Porter, a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill has been selected to receive the award again this year. Jessica is a double major in political science and journalism with a minor in environmental studies. Her hard work has earned her several awards and recognition while attending UNC-CH and she has been able to gain experience through internships as well as educational opportunities through travel. Jessica plans to pursue a career in Washington DC reporting on environmental legislation.

williams_editedErika Williams, a senior at UNC-Asheville majoring in mass communication is a new recipient of the scholarship this year. Erika has a passion for writing and will be a staff writer for the university newspaper. She has been recognized by the UNCA mass communications department with an award for Excellence in News Writing. Erika plans for a career in news journalism.

The Tinsley Journalism Scholarship was established by the Jim Bob Tinsley Museum and its board of directors in recognition of Jim Bob and Dottie Tinsley. Since 2012, TCSEF has awarded $5500 for this scholarship.

Jim Bob Tinsley was born in Brevard in 1921 and was educated in Transylvania County Schools. His long career entailed many areas of journalism and communications. Mr. Tinsley was an author of books on wildlife, a photographer of Transylvania County waterfalls and a professional country and western musician. He received many awards and honors for his lifetime work. Mr. Tinsley passed away in 2004.

Looking for Another Best of Award – Blue Ridge Bakery

Taste of Transylvania would like to thank Blue Ridge Bakery for returning to defend their “Best Dessert” title at this year’s event on May 3 at the Lumberyard in Brevard.  Taste of Transylvania, presented this year by our title sponsor First Citizens Bank, is an annual fundraiser that supports the Transylvania County Schools Educational Foundation (TCSEF) Mini-Grant program, awarding grants to educators in Transylvania County Public Schools.  

LindseyBriscoe_BlueRidgeBakery_2Lindsey Briscoe, the pastry chef for Blue Ridge Bakery is excited about returning to the Taste of Transylvania this year.  “Every year I look forward to [participating in Taste of Transylvania].  It is really fun to come up with an idea and see through that idea and then to see people’s reaction.  To see them enjoy it.”  Lindsey has created desserts that have won the “Best Dessert” award the past three years, and she hopes to continue her reign this year. Last year, Blue Ridge Bakery was awarded Best Dessert for their Flourless Chocolate Cake infused with chile pepper and served with a blood orange sauce.   Lindsey enjoys being creative with her baking and she plans to create a dessert that will be cooked on site and most likely served with ice cream.  Some of her fun creations for the bakery have included an Irish Car Bomb Cupcake, Orange Creamsicle Cupcake and recently a Reese’s Oreo Cupcake.

Visit their website, to view their menu and hours.  Be sure to follow their Facebook page,  to be kept up to date on the “Cupcake of the Week.”  Lindsey creates new flavors to tempt you and for this week, April 13 – 20, the Cupcake of the Week is a Fruit Tart Cupcake.

The bakery, located at 400 S. Broad Street in Brevard, is open 7 am -6 pm Monday – Friday and 8 am – 4 pm on Saturday (closed Sunday).  The Bakery offers all types of baked goods to include cakes, pies, cupcakes, cookies, brownies and much more.  They serve lunch items such as sandwiches, wraps, salads, and soup is available in the Fall.  They also offer cooking classes.  Be sure to stop by for something delicious and join us at Taste of Transylvania to find out what Lindsey has created this year

TCSEF Announces New Taste of Transylvania Logo

TASTE_hero_colorExecutive Director, Cressa Megown worked with Katrina Ronneburger’s Advanced Digital Media class at Brevard High School (BHS) to design a new logo for the annual fundraising event Taste of Transylvania.

Taste of Transylvania, TCSEF’s premier annual fundraiser, will be held at The Lumberyard in Brevard on May 3, 2016 from 6-9 pm.  This annual fundraiser supports the TCSEF Mini-Grant program which provides grants to educators in Transylvania County Public Schools.  These grants create opportunities for our educators to craft innovative programs and to step outside budget boundaries which allows for unique, hands-on and creative learning experiences.

Patrick designs with the Wacom Digital Drawing Tablet.

Patrick designs with the Wacom Digital Drawing Tablet.

Patrick Frady, a BHS senior, submitted the selected design.  Patrick worked with Mrs. Ronneburger to create final files for publication based on feedback provided by the Taste of Transylvania Planning Committee and Mrs. Megown.  Although Patrick has not finalized his college plans for after graduation, he does hope to pursue a marketing degree.  He enjoys the artistic expression that graphic design allows and he believes his design experience will benefit his pursuit in marketing.  “Often there is a break in communication between the designers and businesses, if you are able to bridge that gap, it is extremely helpful.”

Patrick, a varsity soccer player, is open to new ideas.  He fulfilled his fine arts requirement for graduation by taking a dance class in the fall of 2015.  It was a new adventure for him, but he does believe it helped on the soccer field as well.  Patrick is translating that sense of adventure to his next design project.  As the Taste logo design has finished, he is finalizing his cereal box design, for a salsa flavored cereal.

Several years ago, Katrina Ronneburger received a TCSEF Mini-Grant to purchase Wacom Digital Drawing Tablets for her graphic design classes. Students use the tablets, along with the pressure-sensitive stylus, to complete all of their design projects.  Mrs. Ronneburger has found that by using the tablets with her introductory classes, the students advance more quickly than with a mouse.  “It works so much better than trying to transition [the students] over to the tablet later, because they will go to the mouse if they have one there, so I have removed all of them.”  The Wacom tablet is the industry standard for graphic design tablets and the pressure-sensitive stylus allows the students to design as with a paintbrush or calligraphy pen.  “The tablets are a huge asset to this class.”  Next year, BHS and Mrs. Ronneburger will be offering the Adobe Certification Course, which will allow students to sit for Adobe certification in Photoshop, Illustrator, Premier, Audition and Animate.

Cedar Mountain Cafe Returns to Taste of Transylvania


TASTE_hero_colorTaste of Transylvania is excited to begin highlighting the restaurants that will be participating at this year’s event on May 3 at the Lumberyard in Brevard.  Taste of Transylvania, presented this year by our title sponsor First Citizens Bank, is an annual fundraiser that supports the Transylvania County Schools Educational Foundation (TCSEF) Mini-Grant program, awarding grants to educators in Transylvania County Public Schools.  These grants create opportunities for our educators to craft innovative programs and to step outside budget boundaries allowing for unique, hands-on and creative learning experiences.

Lucia and Ilir, owners of Cedar Mountain Cafe

Lucia and Ilir, owners of Cedar Mountain Cafe

In 2015, Cedar Mountain Cafe participated in Taste of Transylvania for the first year.  The Cafe’s owner, Lucia, hopes to come up with a new, fun dish to share.  “We had a really good time . . .we went to support the public schools and we are looking forward to returning this year.”   

Cedar Mountain Cafe is known for fresh meals where “comfort meet classy and nutritious meets delicious”.  The Cafe serves local meats that are hormone, antibiotic, nitrate and preservative free, as well as sustainably raised, accompanied with seasonal vegetables. As the weather warms, guests will be able to enjoy a fine meal on the outdoor patio.

Visit their website, to view their menu and hours.  The restaurant, located at 10667 Greenville Hwy, Cedar Mountain, at the gateway to the Dupont State Forest, is open seven days a week for breakfast and lunch, as well as for dinner on Thursday through Saturday.  The Cafe is a popular stop especially during the busy summer months so if you are planning on dinner, reservations are requested.  Note that reservations are not accepted for breakfast or lunch, but because of the summer activity you will want to arrive early as there may be a wait.  

2016 Title Sponsor – First Citizens Bank

2016 Taste of Transylvania Title Sponsor

TCSEF is pleased to be working with First Citizens Bank again this year.  First Citizens has been the title sponsor for the Taste of Transylvania event for the past few years.   The 2015 event raised $18,000 for the Mini-Grant program, providing 24 grants to teachers in all 9 county schools.   We would like to thank First Citizens for their continued to support and we look forward to an amazing event this year.

first-citizensOur Values
Integrity. Consistency. Personal Attention. These values are the foundation of how we’ve done business for more than a century.

Our Commitments
Our commitment to customer service is the driving culture of First Citizens. We are proud of our commitment to improve our local communities.

First Citizens area bankers are (L to R): Billy Higgins Jr., market executive; Cathy Strassner, financial services representative; Amber Webb, financial sales manager; and Greg Burnette, area executive.

Our History
Since 1898 – when we became the first bank in Johnston County, NC – First Citizens has been proud of our local roots. You can trust that our hometown values remain strong.

News & Awards
Customers aren’t the only ones showing their appreciation. First Citizens has received top honors for stability, profitability and customer service.

Customer Service
You have questions. We have answers. Explore our FAQs, learn about our online security or sign up for a business web workshop – all from the comfort of home. Help is a call away.

First Citizens brings our clients the expertise and reliability of one of the nation’s largest family-controlled banks.


Welcome to the Taste of Transylvania “After-Party”

Taste of Transylvania WSQL Don DeBiase First Citizens Bank Amber WebbThank you Transylvania! This year’s Taste was the biggest ever: 14 restaurants, 16 sponsors, almost 300 attendees, 40 awesome items that raised over $4,600 in the auction alone for the mini-grants program in Transylvania County Schools! (more…)