Artwork for podcast Best of Johnston County
Shaping Future Stars in Johnston County Schools
Episode 276th May 2024 • Best of Johnston County • Jonathan Breeden
00:00:00 00:32:56

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In this special episode of The Best of Johnston County Podcast, dive into the colorful world of arts education with Sarah Fawn McLamb. Discover the various fine arts programs offered by Johnston County Public Schools, learn about the positive impact these programs have on students, and find out how your child can get involved. 

Plus, listen in as we highlight the community's dedication to nurturing young talent and fostering a love for the arts. Perfect for parents and art enthusiasts alike, this episode showcases the vibrant arts culture thriving in our schools and community.


Sarah McLamb: [:

And, That really is my why. I wanna be able to be there for them. I want to give them support that they need to do what they do, because I think that what they do is so important. It's so much more important than anything I'm ever gonna do. I just want them to have the opportunity to do it.


through the area that he has [:

Jonathan Breeden: Hello and welcome to another episode of The Best of Johnston County podcast. I'm your host, Jonathan Breeden and today we have the Johnston County Public Schools Fine Arts Specialist and my neighbor, Sarah Fawn McLamb here to talk to us about what is going on in the Fine Arts of the Johnston County Public Schools, the different programs they have, how your child may can get involved if they're interested in this, and some of the partnerships that the Johnston County Public Schools has made with the other arts. and other community programs in the Johnston County and even in Wake County and how your family can get maybe involved in some of those as well. Welcome, Sarah.

Sarah McLamb: Thank you for having me.

than Breeden: No problem. So [:

Sarah McLamb: All right. So I'm Sarah Fawn McLamb. I am the K 12 fine arts teaching learning specialist for Johnston County public Schools and so mainly my role is just knowing the North Carolina arts ed curriculum and helping facilitate it with our arts ed teachers in the classrooms.

Jonathan Breeden: Okay. I didn't know there was an arts ed curriculum, but what is involved in the North Carolina arts ed curriculum?

on right now, we're hearing [:

So a lot of what we're doing in our classroom is supporting what those students are doing. I spent the bulk of my career as a music teacher and music is math. My kids all the time. We're saying, oh, my gosh, I understand fractions now. So we're learning about rhythm. They're learning how to read music.

They're making the connection between time signature note value and, just that arts are great on their own. But theater dance, visual art does a lot with learning how to look at spatial design and the value of the color, the saturation. So arts are just great. We have high standards, rigorous standards in high school.

We have 2 proficiency levels that are inherently honors. So if they have arts ed, elementary and through middle school, they can potentially start freshman year in an honors level arts class, depending on you know, conversations with their feeder school teachers and where they are in those standards.

So, Yeah we're academic.

ina Public Schools, I always [:

I probably was the worst tuba player in all of Laurinburg, but it was fun and I learned a lot and let it go with that. But my sister was in the marching band and if you follow Scotland High School and marching band, they wear the kilts and they've been in the Macy's parade.

And I'm definitely familiar with how well that was. And of course my office and I've been Sponsors of the bands around here for many years, Cleveland High School Band, West Johnston's Band. We sponsored the Cleveland has not had a Cleveland High School has not had a acting program or really a course program the last few years. it's kind of been,

Sarah McLamb: They do. but

Jonathan Breeden: Was there a time they didn't have a course teacher?

Sarah McLamb: So, the course program did not open when the school opened. Okay.

there and he's fantastic. He [:

And he's also our district three president. So he's doing a great job. They're growing that program. it kind of got off the ground right before COVID. And then you have to rebuild. We've all had to go through some rebuilding but he does amazing things. He's doing a choral showcase coming up where he's going to give an opportunity to a lot of feeder programs.

He's collaborated with the elementary and middle school programs that feed into him to have concerts together. So I think you're gonna start hearing a lot more about it.

Jonathan Breeden: Well, yeah. I know, I, I was asked to sponsor their play last spring, I think. They did a musical and I don't remember the name of it. Legally Blonde, I think.

Sarah McLamb: I think so.

Jonathan Breeden: I think it was legally blonde.

and all of our school shows [:

Make sure that the teachers click that link and send me their dates.

Jonathan Breeden: Okay. And so what is that website?

Sarah McLamb: So, if you go to the Johnston County Schools website, departments, you'll click on fine arts.

It doesn't really have like,

Jonathan Breeden: Yeah. Right. It would be,

It'd be like a hundred letters.

Sarah McLamb: Or if you search JCPS fine arts, we also have Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.

Jonathan Breeden: Yeah. I was so happy that they were doing a musical at Cleveland High School when they asked me if I wanted to sponsor. I'm like, yes, because they've not done very many there. And I know you said they had to rebuild the program and my wife and daughter went and they had a great time and said it was very good and a lot of talent.

It was in that show. So I was happy to be able to support those things. And as I am the bands, I love high school bands, even though I was not in a high school band, I love watching high school bands and I know somebody has to do it. Yeah, you know what I mean? because they're doing so much.

Sarah McLamb: It's a lot, [:

And not just chorus and band are, phenomenal. And Chorus is where my heart is because I did chorus for so many years, but I tell you what, our theater and our dance and our visual art teachers, they're also doing so much and for so little. And I just think, sometimes they're getting their own paintbrushes.

They're getting their own paint. And I am excited. We've watched our dance programs double in the last few years. So we just had two dance teachers for a long time. We now have four of our eight high schools have dance programs. So Corinth holders West Johnston, Smithfield-Selma and Clayton high school all have high school dance programs now. Oh,

Jonathan Breeden: That's great and I, sponsored the triple S band and Spartan thunder, which is awesome.

Sarah McLamb: They just performed at showcase.

Jonathan Breeden: Oh my goodness. Spartan thunder is great and they did the Michael Jackson show last year. And I got to go see that at their big showcase event they did in May.

d if you've not seen Spartan [:

I've seen drum shows in Scotland at the tattoo and all this stuff. And I will put Spartan Thunder's drum show against any drum show I've seen. And I've seen some great thumbs drum shows. It is phenomenal. The talent at triple S and what they do there. And they get a lot more publicity than some of the other ones because they've been around a long time and they're flashy and all that, but it's really amazing to watch Spartan Thunder and the triple S band.

And of course the Cleveland high school band and all of its awards and national awards that they win and a lot of talent there too.

Sarah McLamb: And we did have the Corinth Holders band just went to London. They marched in the New Year's day parade in London. So we have a lot. The Princeton High School Band, they do just about every parade and South Johnston.

They really [:

We do have all counties as well that are open to the public. So we do in November high school chorus and band and high school art gallery. So that's the all county honors events in the fall in the spring. This weekend, we have the middle school, all county honors chorus. It'll take place and then in may we have the elementary all county honors chorus, and they will have the all county art gallery there as well.

And then we already had in February, the middle school band and all county art gallery. So we added the art galleries this year. Previously, it was just band and chorus that we're doing all counties. And now we have it all three grades spans and we've added the visual art. I talked to the strings teachers this morning.

urth graders. I know many of [:

Jonathan Breeden: is a trip. That's been a thing Johnston County has done forever.

I know COVID stopped, but I talked to people that have been around. I didn't go to school with Johnston County, but like people have been doing that for a long time.

Sarah McLamb: We went as a county a lot in the 90s and then it fizzled out. And then, so last year we brought back that it's like a whole county we try to go and the schools are able to opt in. A lot of times it just depends on dates, but we're so large now, we don't fit on one date. So we have one big date that we just fill the whole.

Jonathan Breeden: Oh, my goodness.

Sarah McLamb: And then We've got four satellite dates where three to four other schools go. We've grown so much. So it's awesome to get to see the kids and they do such a great job. They teach them some of the conducting patterns and they teach them the elements of music and the different Sections of the Orchestra.

il I got older and into high [:

So it's really cool for me to see the kids go to this event. And I'm like, this is that's why I'm here.

Jonathan Breeden: Oh,

that's great. That really is great and I think it's good for children to get exposed. But maybe concert hall is extremely nice. It's as nice a concert hall or a theater as I've been in you know what I mean, I'm fortunate enough that I get to go to theaters and Deepak and you know, I've been to a fair number of Broadway shows and stuff, but I would put my Mandy. It's as good as any theater that I've had a chance to be in.

And for children to be able to go in there, like a lot of kids would not get that opportunity just to go in there, be in that theater. The ornateness of it and see some of the greatest musicians in the world. North Carolina theater is comparable to anything. I mean, The North Carolina Orchestra is one of the top orchestras in the entire world.

I don't know if people realize that, but they really are. You don't know what that may spark for a 9 or a 10 year old.


menal. There aren't a lot of [:

Jonathan Breeden: Yeah. They really do and then they've done that forever. That's been part of the calling of the work on sympathy for a long time and I still enjoy for as long as I can remember on July the 3rd, they play at the Garner fireworks. Yep. At Lake Benson Park.

It's always on July the 3rd and that's a free concert that you can go and see them every year, 99% sure they're probably doing it in this year. So, if you don't want to buy a ticket, which can be a little expensive, they do a free concert on July 3rd at Lake Benson park in Garner.

so what are some of the. programs we, the bands, I think get, they're the highest profile. They play the games, they go to the competitions, they're out raising crazy amounts of money for their bands. We know Spartan thunder and stuff like that. What are some of the more unsung programs that are in Johnston County that are doing well that people might not have heard of?

don't think we have a single [:

Like I said, we have. our visual art students are winning state competitions left and right. And we try to put all this on our social media. Sometimes the algorithms don't algorithm. So I'm like, tag us so we can share you. Right. Right.


but you know, even our elementary programs.

I know Riverwood Elementary, they go and sing at the Mudcats. They open the game with National Anthem. All the time we've got a couple elementary groups that they do bucket drumming, or they have recorder choirs, hand belt choirs, and like I said we have the dance programs, and theater is really starting to take hold.

arts [:

I mean,

Jonathan Breeden: that That's great. I know Cleveland middle school just did a play, which is great.

Sarah McLamb: Yeah, and their chorus teacher is their theater teacher. So she is pulling the load for both courses does a fantastic job. They just did Willy Wonka.

Jonathan Breeden: Right. They did Willy Wonka and the

Cleveland middle school got a new band director about 18 months ago, I think.

Sarah McLamb: maybe two years.


Jonathan Breeden: They've done a really good job at the previous mayor director had done a great job there too. And I've been fortunate enough to be a sponsor, maestro sponsor of middle school. I really believe in what you're trying to do and these programs and what they do for children. Because, not every kid is going to be 6'1 and playing on the football team.

You know what I'm saying? Like, they're not right and this is just more opportunities for children to find their passion to be able to excel whether they're physically big enough to play football or basketball or there's something for every child has a talent.

And those talents need to be [:

Sarah McLamb: We're creative in how we find ways to bring opportunities to the students. I think, the more opportunities that we can provide and work toward the more partnerships that we can make. We've been lucky like for The Symphony this morning, the curriculum department was able to help with the admission.

And Then we got a grant from The Symphony for the transportation. I work with Martha at the Clayton Center. She helps provide opportunities for K 12 experiences in the theater as well. So, if the students can't get into. You know, If they're not 4th grade and they don't go to The Symphony, there's other opportunities there.

Most of us when you major in [:

How do you do the word processing to create that little fold? What about copyright law? We learn about that. We learn about licensing. It's college and career prep on top of the art and they're learning all of that. But yeah, I wish I could shout out every single teacher that's in Johnston County doing art.

They do so much. Like they just support being human and being productive and that's why I love it. No,

Jonathan Breeden: No, that's great

us at www. breedenfirm. com [:

Jonathan Breeden: I mean, and through COVID and everything, y'all have had some turnover in the arts. With all other teachers, right? Have you filled all the positions you have to fill or are, are you still got some openings you're trying to fill?

Sarah McLamb: We would love a new art teacher. We do have a position at one of our middle schools, and they can find that on the Johnston County website at careers. But we pretty much have kept our positions filled. Sometimes somebody has to move away because of a spouse or something.

And that's the same similar situation there where it was a moving away situation. But we've added some art positions, we have the new arts ed graduation requirement coming up. It went into effect with last year's 6th graders where all students grade 6 through 12 will need an arts ed class to graduate.

st, we have to do this. It's [:

I I love my CIA team. I'm in awe of all the specialists, no matter what subjects we have math, science, reading specialists, and that just, I like to watch them give their PD to, I learn a lot. We do have a countywide PD where the arts educators come together too. And it's just, it's a family,


Jonathan Breeden: What is PD?

Sarah McLamb: Professional Development.

Jonathan Breeden: Right.

Sarah McLamb: So continuing education, just to keep our teaching license and keep it active. We have so many credits we have to obtain on our cycle. Like a lot of other professions we're lifelong learners. So, we work together to create those opportunities and each of the disciplines meets at least quarterly. Most of them meet monthly. And then we meet at the beginning and end of each year as a whole team and just kind of celebrate each other, support each other, share best practices and collaborate. I love the collaboration. Even at showcase, when the art teachers came to hang their work, they were walking around.

you tell your students to do [:

Jonathan Breeden: I don't disagree. I there, All the ones that I've interacted with have been really phenomenal and I enjoy watching the bands and seeing the artwork that's around if you go to the state fair, Johnston County always has a lot of winners at the state fair. You see the art there.

Sarah McLamb: Clayton Women's Foundation or Center, they do an art show every year. And some of the kids that go into that, they go on to state level competitions as well.

Jonathan Breeden: Right. That's phenomenal. So if you have a child who might be interested in this, I mean, how should they get in?

What's the first thing a parent should do to maybe get their child into these different programs. Whether it be the band or chorus or any of that. What's the first thing a parent should do?

Sarah McLamb: Every single elementary school has music and visual art and they have that anyway.

education courses available. [:

I had a senior one time who was in beginning chorus. He had never sung before and I had, a lot of athletes. Athletes are really good dancers and show choir. Those football and soccer players, their footwork, they've got, and guess what? Coaches will help them with their footwork. and show Claire too.

But, I think that's the most important thing for parents to know you can do both. You can take AP classes and arts ed classes. You can be an athlete and a performer and an artist. And I loved that we used to collaborate together. The band and the chorus would do the National Anthem at homecoming.

We would wear whatever our uniform was, but the football players stayed in their uniform. The cheerleaders stayed in uniform. The ROTC cadets stayed in their uniform. If we had girls that were also in band and in chorus, they would hold their instrument and sing so that the community can see.

d we collaborate, we talk to [:

We have beginning chorus for beginners. You never know. Same thing with band. I've never heard a band director say, no, we're not going to help you find an instrument to play. Like They will find a way and dance theater. There's a beginning level at any course. Go try.

Jonathan Breeden: No,

Sarah McLamb: no, no doubt.

Jonathan Breeden: It's never too late to start and you can continue on with it. And There's tons of even when you get out of school, or if you want extra help, there's tons of private teachers in and around Johnston County. That's the one good thing about being in a fairly large county like Johnston County and being right next to Wake County with a million people or whatever, is that, there's other people, there's voice teachers, there are dance instructors, dance academies there's gymnastics.

. If Johnston County doesn't [:

When did you become this director?

a decade. I started there in:

and so, you know, there were all, you know, some of us that, that decided to go for it.

role, I get to love teachers [:

And, That really is my why. I wanna be able to be there for them. I want to give them support that they need to do what they do, because I think that what they do is so important. It's so much more important than anything I'm ever gonna do. I just want them to have the opportunity to do it.

Right, right, right.

Jonathan Breeden: I know that they started doing these community days at the high schools in the fall. Mm-Hmm. . Mm-Hmm. .


um. Celebrate the community and, I've been to those definitely want to Cleveland High School several times and you get to see what the elementary school courses would be there.

The middle school courses would be there. The middle school bands would play. and That's another way for the community to interact with the fine arts and school. you know, I have kids at school go in the fall, every high school has one they're in September, October, they're from like 9 to 1.

and see the talent. And it's [:

it's impossible,

to go and not, and my kids have not been in, those programs, but I still go and watch and support them and leave a big smile on my face. Every year, I try to go to the one at Cleveland High School if I can. It's really a good thing. You've done a great job. The school system, school board, Dr. Bracey, everybody in Johnston County, at least from my perspective, seems to be committed to find us the fact that this position exists and that you're in it and they invest in you to have this position to create a coordination among the 32 schools, I guess there are, I think is important too.

ids love seeing him and it's [:

To have all of that support and to have those events and to have sponsors like you, thank you. And I'm going to say, you know, sponsor our groups. A lot of them have booster clubs. You don't have to be a parent to help their programs out. That's how they're able to provide a lot of these opportunities to the students.

Even my elementary teachers that have courses put together, that's all volunteer hours, that's all outside of school. So when you go out and you see them perform, Just have that in the back of your mind that teacher either got there early or stay late to make that happen. And that's happening with a lot of the teachers, chorus, dance, theater, all those musicals, that's all volunteer time on the teachers too.

So I just think it's really special that we have people that love it. You know, and sponsors are always right.

Jonathan Breeden: No, that's awesome.

and Sarah Fawn has used the word showcase several times. That is the showcase of the stars. It happens every March in Johnston County. And that is where all of the schools send their fine arts programs were at chorus and stuff.

rticipates in some level and [:

I was on the board of trustees of the community college when we had to decide, could we raise the money to remodel the auditorium? Or were you going to have to tear it down?

And literally that because it was in such bad repair, there were safety issues with it. Fortunately Dr. Johnson, the former president was a visionary and came up with an idea for us to get a bond that the commissioners agreed to the county approved, the voters approved, and we were able to redo the auditorium and build the student success center as part of that same complex there on the community college campus. But I know y'all do that every year. This year, it was three separate shows to get all the kids in there. And I think it's, is it free?

Ed Foundation sells tickets [:

They do the t shirt sales and then we have the broadcast network. Copyright is very expensive. I know you probably know a lot about licensing law. So just to sell a DVD, you almost can't afford to sell it when you pay all the licensing. So we have the broadcast network now that's linked and we'll be able to put all of the shows on there and let the teachers know so you can watch them there and stream it.

And then that helps with the licensing and it helps go back to the programs that perform, but I tell you the real show, the best seat in the house is backstage.

Jonathan Breeden: Okay.

Sarah McLamb: So First of all, you have the outstanding staff at JCC and all those lights and all the fog and all the colors, but seeing the kids, especially the littlest ones, when they come around the screen and they see like all the pulleys and the ropes and all the people running around in headsets, making it all happen.

d they're like and then even [:

Oh, that's awesome.

re recording this in March of:

Because it really is amazing. I think people don't realize is I've gone to my wife taught high school for a long time. You know that, and I would go to those performances that we recognize the talent of the football players and Amari Hampton is a Cleveland person. He's now one of the nation's leading rushers at Chapel Hill.

and act as good as he plays [:

Sarah McLamb: Which is still talent.

Jonathan Breeden: Which is still talent.

Sarah McLamb: My sons are athletes and my husband coaches. So we love our athletics.

Jonathan Breeden: Right? But I think the public sometimes loses sight that the kids in the arts are just as talented in their own way. And should have people go watch them and support them and what they're doing and developing their talents.

Sarah McLamb: Yes. I try to make it easy. Like I said, we have the date calendar. So we have a bitly link and it's JCPS fine arts calendar, but it's also linked on all of our social media. I try to post each Monday this week in fine arts. So you can always find a show just about every week of the year.

There's at least one to two shows somewhere at one of our 49 schools.

athan Breeden: That's great. [:

Sarah McLamb: The community,

you know, I,

your neighbors.

so we, you know,

our community area, just that my kids have a family of kids that come over. If they're not eating out of my pantry, they're eating out of yours. Sometimes we'll just text each other. Okay, whose pantry are they in today? But just to have that, that the kids can grow up with that. The community within the school system.

I love that we have countywide, like I said, PLC is Professional Learning Community. So the teachers get to know each other. A lot of the teachers live in the community. I used to joke, I didn't want to live in the same area as my students. But you know, more and more teachers do enjoy living in the community, seeing the kids.

of each other and we support [:

Jonathan Breeden: Well, that's awesome. That's awesome. Well, We'd like to thank Sarah Fawn McLamb for coming on today to The Best of Johnston County's podcast.

If this is your first time listening to our podcast, feel free to like, subscribe, or follow this podcast wherever you're seeing it on Apple, Spotify, YouTube YouTube or any of our social media channels so that you'll be aware of future episodes of The Best of Johnston County podcast. The Best of Johnson County podcast comes out every Monday.

help your dental health. So [:

It will help us with our visibility. So more people will find out about The Best of Johnston County podcasts until next time. I'm your host, Jonathan Breeden. Thanks a lot.

That's the end of today's episode of Best of Johnston County, a show brought to you by the trusted team at Breeden Law Office. We thank you for joining us today and we look forward to sharing more interesting facets of this community next week. Every story, every viewpoint adds another thread to the rich tapestry of Johnston County.

If the legal aspects highlighted raised some questions, help is just around the corner at www. breedenfirm. com.





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