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Scholastic Competitions Fuel Success at Valley Springs
Scholastic Competitions Fuel Success at Valley Springs
Posted on 05/19/2021
Teacher Amber Shiver and her students are finishing the year strong with wins in statewide competitions.Related: Gifted Program Focuses on Equity, Inspires Statewide
By: Benjamin Rickert
BCS Communications Dept.

A new teacher at Valley Springs Middle School is inspiring students through academic competitions, and her efforts earned her an impressive accolade this spring. On May 10, Ms. Amber Shiver was named the 2021 Middle School Coach of the Year by the North Carolina Association for Scholastic Activities (NCASA).

NCASA organizes and promotes scholastic enrichment activities across the state. Through NCASA, Shiver coached students to impressive finishes in writing, debate, and art competitions this school year, despite the complexities of the pandemic and remote learning. The new program at Valley Springs also placed fourth in North Carolina in the organization’s Challenge Cup, an annual award that ranks schools according to multiple scholastic competitions from NCASA and partner events like Battle of the Books, MathCounts, Envirothon, Science Olympiad, and more.

“The students were willing to go for it, putting in the practice and research required to do well,” said Shiver. “The kinds of skills learned through these competitions are some of the most important skills students can develop in their lives. There’s so much to learn about communication styles and how to apply them so people can hear us.”

Valley Springs students placed third overall in “The Quill” state writing finals. In Forensics, Valley Springs was the state runner-up, and student Lidia Fiore was the Extemporaneous Speaking forensics state champion. Student Lynnette Keating received an honorable mention in the Art Showcase. The competitions gave students the opportunity to think critically and build supportive relationships during remote learning.

“It’s been a hard year and having that camaraderie outside of the classroom with other students gave them an important opportunity for community growth,” explained Shiver.

With 18 years of teaching experience, Shiver moved to Asheville from Maryland to serve as Valley Springs’ Academically and Intellectually Gifted (AIG) Specialist in August, 2020. In addition to teaching an advanced curriculum, she has organized NCASA competitions for all Valley Springs students with assistance from co-teachers Angela Cloud and Melanie Berlin. Shiver most recently worked as a high school English teacher.

“I think this also speaks to our academic community here at Valley Springs,” she said, “where we’re working together to create curious and innovative learners.”

Learn more about NCASA's events and competition results.

Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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