Matthews Library Recommends: Reading for Women's History Month

In celebration of Women’s History Month, staff at Matthews Public Library have compiled a list of resources that enable you to explore the stories and experiences of women around the globe. You can also peruse the many Women’s History Month recommended reading lists available in our online catalog.

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 Adult Nonfiction


Young Adult Nonfiction

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For Children

Journalism Classes: Giving High School Students a Relevant Voice

High school and middle school journalism classes go beyond reporting and play a large role in developing well-informed, future citizens who know how to navigate difficult topics.

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In a culture that puts so much emphasis on individuality, students today have become more and more aware of themselves and how they fit into the world around them. In our corner of the world, Matthews, NC, students have an excellent outlet for self-expression in journalism in the classes offered at Carmel Christian High School and Covenant Day Middle School.

Not only do high school and middle school journalism courses give students a voice to report on what is relevant to them, they also help to inform them on what they are speaking on and how to best articulate it.

A high school class that gives an idea of what journalism entails, Carmel Christian High School has provided its second year of journalism with journalism and creative writing teacher, Jennifer Dixon, who teaches students the different aspects of journalism through the units of photojournalism, headlining, writing captions, and law and ethics. This class mirrors a real-life news organization with a student-run news website. For the 48 journalism students at Carmel Christian, there are two levels that are divided into different classes: a Journalism 1 course, for beginners, and a Journalism 2 course, for those who have already completed one year of journalism.

In the pursuit of truth, journalism keeps those in power honest. It is especially important in teaching students about the freedom of the press and that they have the constitutional right to have their voice represented.

This separation exists as a division of labor, placing 39 of the total students as writers in Journalism 1 and the remaining nine students as editors in Journalism 2. Those in Journalism 1 function under a “spiral curriculum” that continuously revisits each topic taught, each revisit becomes more in-depth during the course of the year. As well, they learn to take assignments and develop their voice in articles. Those in Journalism 2 practice more freedom in reporting for their student news. Journalism 2 is like a “life lab,” according to Dixon, where “[students] manage our website, they set the direction of the website, and do a lot of editing- they also do a lot of news writing and recording.”

“Journalism helps you gain more knowledge about the press and what's going on in today's society and how it all works,” said Journalism 1 senior at Carmel Christian, Tyler Caldwell.

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An imperative part of this course is how it teaches students the critical role that journalism plays within society. In the pursuit of truth, journalism keeps those in power honest. It is especially important in teaching students about the freedom of the press and that they have the constitutional right to have their voice represented.

“The most significant thing I can teach them is that they have the power to communicate and the power to understand and the power to play a critical role in our democracy,” said Dixon.

According to second-year journalism student at Carmel Christian, Kat Uribe, Carmel Christian’s journalism class, “ is valuable to our school because we do not have any electives that help us to express ourselves- most of them are not something you can be an individual in. Finding your voice is something teenagers appreciate, we always want to express ourselves. In journalism, you have more freedom to express yourselves; it is age appropriate.”

According to Covenant Day Middle School coach, history teacher, and now journalism teacher, Zach Turner, the school’s first journalism course was started this year in the 7th grade. At present, there are four participating students. His class has focused on writing, grabbing the attention of the reader, and answering the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where, how, why). As of now, his class has moved on from the basics of writing to a radio reporting unit, where they are hoping to be able to record short news reports.

As with Dixon, Turner sees the value in teaching middle schoolers journalism because it shows them, “what is actually going on.”

While teaching, Turner has noticed how his students have taken interest in current events saying that, “There are times we will be watching or reading an article and the students are blown away by some of the things going on in today’s world – good and bad.”

Although Turner’s class is less focused on the formalities of journalism, as it is at a middle school level, he finds that his students are eager to give it a try. “They don’t care about the history or the tech right now – they just want to write or read news.” The class exercises their reporting abilities by writing about current school news, such as the middle school play, retreats, and sports.

As one of the students…I can say we are lucky to have teachers here in Matthews who are willing to give students a way for students to express themselves. I can truly say that it has helped me grow both as a writer and as a person.

This course helps to both develop a student’s voice as well as equipping them with skills that they will use later on in life. The skills that are taught are applicable to interacting within a work environment, especially to those who may consider journalism as a possible career path after high school.

Dixon emphasizes, “They learn a lot of things that translate to the workplace, like collaboration, how to handle disappointment, and how to creatively solve problems.” Even at the middle school level, Turner reflects similarly that his course, “teaches working under pressure which is a skill everyone needs- no texting, no calling, you have to do it face to face for the most part. I feel like that is lacking in a lot of people today – that personal, one-on-one, look-you-in-the-eye and talk part of communicating.”

High school and middle school journalism classes go beyond reporting what people may except, like the latest results of a sports game or the student honor role- they play a large role in developing well-informed, future citizens who know how to navigate difficult topics and address them consciously.

As one of the students in Carmel Christian’s journalism class, I can say we are lucky to have teachers here in Matthews who are willing to give students a way for students to express themselves. I can truly say that it has helped me grow both as a writer and as a person.

#ThrowbackThursday: February 22, 2007

With permission, The Beacon is archiving past issues of Matthews Record (also called Matthews News and Record and The Matthews Record) articles online. Throwback Thursday articles will include relevant content still facing Matthews today. This story was originally published February 22, 2007 and was written by Janet Denk.

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CMS Learning Communities, construction discussed

Former Butler principal Joel Ritchie, who was named the first area superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools last month, was back on his old stomping grounds last Monday.

Not in the Butler Bulldog pen, but rather at Town Hall, delivering information about the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ decentralization plan. He was joined by CMS executive director of Facilities Planning and Real Estate, Mike Raible, who talked about construction.


CMS will decentralize into six geographic areas based on growth projections and municipal and neighborhood boundaries. Each area ranges from 17,000 to 25,000 students. The initial cost estimate for the decentralization and establishment of area offices is about $8 million. The goal is to help each school become more closely aligned with the community it serves, and it will put resources and administration closer to parents and other members of the public. An area superintendent will lead each of the six areas, dubbed learning communities. A seventh area, called the Achievement Zone, contains 10 schools with low test scores and high needs.


The school system needs $2.5 billion for construction over the next decade to keep up with explosive growth and enrollment, according to CMS officials.

The two main proposals are where to spend the money and how to build the schools. Superintendent Peter Gorman is calling for building more suburban schools and fewer renovations closer to the center city. A panel that included educators, designers, and contractors recommended about 75 ways to save money. Some of the cuts are sore spots for different areas - for instance - having high schools share football stadiums and auditoriums.

Morning Minute: Tuesday, December 18, 2018

News About Town: The Board of Commissioners voted this past Monday night to unanimously support a list of Legislative Priorities, which range from standard (“Government Closest to the People Governs Best” seems to appear annually) to those more specific to actions the Board has taken in the past year. One point is expanding methods for local funding and municipal school funding. The Board largely supports the 2019-20 NC League of Municipalities Legislative Goals, with exception to language in number 9: the ability to “seek legislation that supports adequate, fair school funding between state and county in all school systems across the state by repealing municipal authority to fund schools.” The Board does not support repealing their municipal authority to fund schools. The Board supported adding three points to the Legislative Agenda, including asking for reinstatement of Protest Petitions in zoning cases.


News Around Town: The recent closing of Cafe 157 on Trade Street has left a large building vacant in the downtown Matthews area. There is little info on what’s to come, but the building has been leased by Anthony Kearney, owner of Tilt on Trade and 204 North.

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One Good Thing: Cotton Gin Printing and Graphics (located on Cotton Gin Alley) has #RedForEd items for a little while longer. Buy magnets and tee shirts to support your favorite educator online and then pick your order up in the Matthews shop. Our local economy and North Carolina teachers will be eternally grateful.


Olympics STEM Excitement for Matthews Students

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

On Thursday afternoons at the Matthews Elementary School, 18 fourth- and fifth-grade students meet to learn new techniques, gain knowledge, foster teamwork, and work together.

By the excitement, alone, one might believe they are gearing up for an upcoming traditional sports event. However, in this case, sports uniforms are nowhere to be found. Instead, this group is employing preparation, commitment, speed, dexterity, knowledge, fortitude, passion, application and focus in the hope that they may place in next year’s (May) North Carolina Science Olympiad (NCSO) competition. They are the only elementary school in Matthews participating in this sport.  

Make no mistake - the whoops, hollers, excitement level and words of encouragement emanating from this classroom would belie the best of a Friday night football game; this group is clearly here to win. And, like all sports, the emphasis remains on the overall team effort - to work through a series of competitions consisting of different hands-on, interactive, challenging and inquiry-based team events involving biology, earth science, environmental science, chemistry, physics, mechanical engineering and technology toward an end-goal.

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

“They already have a natural love of science,” says fifth-grade Elementary Math and Science teacher, Jamie Worth, who is also the group’s “coach.” Now in her sixth year of running a group, she adds, “my job is to (also help them) have the most fun.”

To be included here, fourth and fifth graders must submit an essay and receive a recommendation by their homeroom teacher. The best essays and recommendations result in being chosen for the group. This year, the team is primarily girls - 14 of 18 participants. While Jamie can’t quite explain this phenomenon, the opportunity is not lost on her as a “female teacher getting more female involvement,” fostering “more girl scientists…This is the year of the girls,” she adds. “I am excited to lead a team with a way different dynamic than ever before!”

For Hadley, now in her third year of NCSO, she’s here “because I like science. My mom is a biology teacher. I like being part of a team and trying new things…I hope to shape my career out of it.”

Addie, also in her third year of participation, said being given a challenge and participating in the events provides excitement and a sense of camaraderie.

And, Amelia added, besides the requisite essay and recommendations, she believes the teacher picks the participants who are the greatest “team players.”

It is an approach which offers education, competition, and opportunities for working together. “Those kids who give the best effort, are willing to work hard, and stay positive,” said Jamie, “are picked. It’s not (necessarily) the smartest children.”

On this particular day, the second week of the session, the “Duct Tape – Build a Boat” challenge required students to “design and float a boat that holds the most marbles.” Within seconds, each student began excitedly creating their structure. One by one, they placed their boats in the water. The majority sank, with an overflow of design “holes.” But, the overall intent was to teach buoyancy and surface area - a valuable lesson which clearly showed that intention and creativity, alone, do not necessarily equate to success.

“Who cares if you fail the first (time),” said Jamie. “Make a plan, make it better. Do better. I think most were more than willing to update their designs based on what they saw worked and didn’t.  The students are natural observers so they could easily figure out a new and better approach,” she said.

In the end, most participants realize that patience, diligence, and perseverance will go a long way to achieving the end goal.

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

Photo by Cyma Shapiro

“These kids don’t realize how hard this is,” said Jamie, referencing the fact that the younger 4th graders are often disappointed with not learning all the concepts and/or losing during final competition, compelling them to return the following year with a greater hunger and passion to win.

To train for the final event, students attend the weekly classes and are required to study for approximately one hour per week. Within the group, students may choose three of 18 competitions offered with such categories as “ProGamers,” “Weather Permitting” and “Pasta Tower.”  In many instances, the questions and categories reflect classroom work already being mandated (and taught) by the North Carolina Course of Study (grades 2-6).

In addition, parents often volunteer their time to coach for one event and are involved in supporting their students outside of practice, as well.

To help participants prepare, Jamie creates a different study guide for each student. This will be the basis of their year-long study.  The work demands logical and critical-thinking skills, retention and a greater understanding of all the basic concepts. “I remember how difficult it was,” Jamie said. “It’s not an easy thing to do!”

This past May, at the finals, some Matthews children placed in events and others medaled; the group also won the NCSO’s (regional) Spirit Award given for the best sportsmanship, collaboration, and teamsmanship – an award Jamie says she’ll take “any day.”  She hopes to again win this award in 2019. “We spend more time building a team than teaching,” said Jamie.”

Having participated in NCSO during eigth grade, at Northeast Middle School in Charlotte, Jamie sees this as an extension of her own life and her own passion. She has a fervent her desire to foster more interest in these fields.  “It doesn’t look like I’m in the science field, but here I am analyzing data and doing things scientists do!” she said. “I want students to realize that science doesn’t just mean a person with a lab coat. It can be anyone.”

NCSO is a nonprofit organization with a mission to attract and retain K-12 students entering science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees and careers in North Carolina. In 2018, more than 980 K-12 teams representing over 18,000 students and 85 counties in North Carolina participated in NCSO activities.