An area of our lives that has been most affected during this unprecedented time is our education system. No one could imagine that education would have to pivot so swiftly for many to continue to have the wonderful opportunity of learning. Rowan Salisbury School System had a decision to make while considering students, teachers, families, and how to continue moving forward in education. With several surrounding school districts utilizing the virtual option only, Rowan Salisbury School System decided to offer in person learning to its students as well as the virtual option. Teachers not only had to readjust with a changed mindset, but they also put in hours of preparation and planning to ensure they could provide the best education to students in a nontraditional way, all while staying safe. 


“The Annex”

A group of teachers at Knox Middle School have faced this challenge and done a phenomenal job of pouring into their students. This group of teachers, known to their colleagues as “The Annex”, contains Sally Schultz, Tina Mason, and Derek Butler. This awesome team has the unique experience of looping some of their 6th graders to 7th grade and it has been amazing to see how far their students have come since starting 6th grade last year.


From left to right: Tina Mason, Sally Schultz, Derek Butler.


Sally Schultz, a native of New York, moved to Salisbury to obtain a degree in education from Catawba College. She also received a certificate in Academically or Intellectually Gifted from University of North Carolina at Charlotte and is currently working toward her Master’s in Educational Leadership and Curriculum Design at Western Governors University. Ms. Schultz has taught Kindergarten, fifth grade, and sixth through eighth grades. She was recently named Rowan Salisbury Schools’ Teacher of the Year and she has such great passion for educating others. 

“The most exciting part of being back at school is being with the kids. During virtual we worried so much about our kids and it’s so nice to be back with them and building relationships,” stated Schultz. “We cannot deny that there have been challenges. The most challenging part for us is the social distancing. We are used to having a collaborative and flexible environment and we’ve had to pull back. We have learned to maneuver throughout this time to offer the best that we can for our students,” indicated Schultz.

Christina Mason, a native of Raleigh, North Carolina, has been teaching for three years. She received her Bachelor of Science in Education from North Carolina State University and her Master of Arts in Curriculum Instruction from the University of Phoenix. Mrs. Mason believes all students can learn and achieve and has indicated that their goal this year is to help bridge the educational gaps students are facing, which now are larger due to COVID-19.

“Our goals for the year are to personalize the learning based on what each individual child needs as well as work to build social and emotional skills. As far as resources, we try to make our lessons engaging and hands-on, however, we have been able to supplement our instruction during remote work with programs such as Achieve3000, Xtramath, and Math Space.”

Derek Butler is originally from Lincolnton, North Carolina with a degree in Communications from Western Carolina University. Mr. Butler looks forward to finding fun, interesting, and engaging ways to communicate with his students. He believes every student can enjoy learning if he can mold the curriculum to their personal styles of learning. 

“When students are with us, we work to make the activities engaging and hands-on so students enjoy the work and want to complete it. Integrating food into our science class has really motivated students and gotten them excited about learning. The most influential piece of getting students engaged is building relationships with them to help them to begin believing in themselves and becoming more motivated to do well in school. We have some great parents we work with and the more they see that we care about their child, the more they’re involved and appreciative.”


A Passion for Teaching

Being an educator requires that you are driven and are passionate about the work that you do for others. Schultz, Mason, and Butler exhibit that drive and passion each day as they take on the task of providing. They do an excellent job by creating an engaging environment where students are eager and excited about education.

What drives this team to make an impact is the many times schools get a bad reputation from rumors based on what people think is happening. Ms. Schultz expressed, “our kids are amazing! I want to be sure that the public and community see how truly amazing our students are and how much potential they have. I want my students to have just as much of a chance as any student, and I want them to believe in themselves and know no matter the academic level they’re at, they are capable and can be successful and use that to drive my instruction to work to reach every individual student.”