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Balfour rescues a student and then watches her rise

Sydney Singleton and her teacher, ChristineMukosiej. Sydney Singleton and her teacher, ChristineMukosiej.

Her teachers now are not surprised at Sydney Singleton’s achievements. But two years ago, few would have predicted her success, starting with Sydney herself.

“When I was in ninth grade, I failed all my classes,” she says matter-of-factly. “So I started out high school pretty rough.”
After she and her family then tried a brief and unsuccessful stint of homeschooling, she enrolled at Balfour, Henderson County’s alternative high school.
“When I came to Balfour, they helped me catch up, and I haven’t made below a C since I’ve been here,” she says with pride.
She’s done more than catch up to average.
She brought home the gold medal for the Career Investigation category in the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America state competition in Greenville in April. She leaves next month for the national competition in Washington. It will be her first trip to the nation’s capital. “I’m more excited than I am nervous this round,” she said.
Her project involved an extensive portfolio that included a self-assessment, samples of work from her CTE classes, job shadowing work, reflections and more, along with a seven-minute speech that focused on special needs education. For research, she shadowed special needs education programs at Glenn Marlow, Upward and Bruce Drysdale elementary schools and at Vocational Solutions, which employs adults with special needs.
In Washington, the rising senior will present the project again, this time competing against FCCLA winners from every state. The organization helps Family and Consumer Science students become leaders and develop skills for various aspects of adult life, preparing them to succeed in their families, careers and communities.
Before her job shadowing work, “I had never been around anybody with special needs, really,” she sats. She plans on applying to Appalachian State University and would like to pursue a degree in special education.
Christine Mukosiej taught Sydney Early Childhood Education 1 and 2 and Foods and then encouraged every step of the way with her FFCLA project. She’ll accompany her star pupil to the national competition.
“I couldn’t have done it without her,” Sydney said.
“I’m proud of her,” Mukosiej said. “She worked hard, and I’m excited for her to represent Balfour. We’re all so excited, just because it is such a huge thing, and that’s never happened for us before.”
Syndney also praised Balfour principal Kent Parent and achievement specialist Carol Zinn for their high standards and coaching.
“They’re pushy, but they’re pushy toward the right direction,” she said. “They’re really helpful. They help me stay motivated.”
Sydney is a living rebuttal to the perception that Balfour is a “bad kid school.” On the contrary, Balfour is a close-knit community driven by strong mentors and devoted teachers who encouraged her to excel.
“I love this school,” Sydney said. “Your class sizes are smaller. I feel like I learn better here.”
The fact that a North Carolina winner has come from Balfour is not lost on her.
“It’s so important — this whole thing — because Balfour used to have the bad reputation,” she said. “But now, not just with me though — everything’s getting a brighter perspective for everyone who doesn’t know it’s not just for bad kids.”