Forest View Story Project

As we reJanuary-May 2013 030flect on Forest View Elementary’s 20+ years, it’s a great time to capture Forest View stories, those small moments when we thought, “Aha! This is what I love about Forest View.”


Tell us your story! Send them to

  • Tell a story about one of your favorite Forest View moments. 
  • Describe your favorite place at Forest View. Tell why it’s your favorite place.
  • Think of one word that best describes Forest View.
  • Do you have any advice for current Forest View students?

________________________________________________________________________________________________________Selections from the Story Archive

photo1I was teaching first grade at the old Hope Valley School the last year that the school was open.  We were all anticipating our move to Forest View.  I can remember packing all of the boxes and looking at floor plans of the new school.   I had been asked by my principal if I wanted to move up with my first graders to second grade at Forest View.  I was very excited about this new challenge at a new school.   As the teacher workdays approached, we still didn’t have a certificate of occupancy.  I  remember walking around the outside of the building and peering into the windows to see the classrooms.  Finally we were able to move in.  I can clearly remember walking in the front door and walking down the hallway for the first time.  It was such an exciting feeling.  Unpacking and setting up a new classroom was so much fun!  The first day of school with the students was magical.  It was like we were starting a new chapter and creating history.  It’s great to still be teaching at Forest View as we celebrate our 20th year.  We have made so many wonderful memories throughout the years.  There are many more memories yet to be made as well.  Forest View is such an amazing school!!

-Lisa Byrd, teacher



259One can guess I like all the visual progress we have made to make our school building and campus a better place to be. We have the gardens and a Nature Trail, several playgrounds, an amphitheater, and an observation bridge all built since I have been here at Forest View. Inside the building we have permanent art displays that not only make our daily life more interesting, but also show us the talent of our students that still continues today.
I always like it when our art is too big to fit on the tables in the art room and we have to move to the floors . . .  in the art room, in the hall, wherever we can find space to work large!  That is how those large canvas artworks that hang in the halls and gym were made. Some of our projects are not permanent, but they are invaluable in giving our students the experience in making art that goes beyond our normal paper sizes.  So there is a theme here . . . it also allows us a chance to experience the best of  “cooperative learning,” which will always improve our life skills working with each other which can only make our world a better place.  It has certainly made Forest View a better place.
-Marylu  Flowers, art teacher
Childhood is a journey, not a race—that’s a bumper sticker on my classroom window. It serves as a constant reminder to me that if we don’t slow down and enjoy the journey, then we’ll surely miss the details of the day. On the first day of school this year, my twentieth first day as a teacher, I reminded myself of this simple thought. Each of those twenty first days of school has been quite the roller coaster ride in many ways. Emotionally, physically and mentally these days are exhausting. The night before the first day I sleep very little, but I usually sleep very well following the first day of school. And it’s true that hope springs eternal, never truer than that first day of school. ( Read the rest of the story here.)

.-Jamie Barnhill, teacher

From the moment we set foot into Forest View as visitors, we knew it was the school for us. It didn’t hurt that we had heard many colleagues and friends gush about what a wonderful tight-knit school it was. For us, picking the right school was a little like finding the right job, or the right childcare provider or the right house. It is one of the most meaningful decisions in your life, so it should feel right. For our family, Forest View just clicked. It was the warmth with which we were greeted by Principal Clay, the friendly hellos from parents and smiles on the children’s faces. It is the feeling of community, joy and hope that is pervasive in the halls that made our transition into first grade so smooth this year.  (Read the rest of the story here.
-Jeannine Sato, parent

May 2014 123My favorite place at Forest View is the art room. What I love about the art room is all the art supplies and how when Ms. Flowers gives out a project for us all to do, it gets very quiet.  Everyone (mostly) focuses in on the project. Ms. Flowers’ room is cluttered, but a good kind of cluttered:  all this “clutter” is art projects that are halfway finished on drying racks, paint trays by the sink, pencils and pens in red bins by the whiteboard, and on the whiteboard are pictures and drawings for classes.  Oh, and don’t forget Ms. Flowers comfy chair in the back of the room.  When I am in the art room, I feel ready to paint, draw, or finish up a drawing.  I also feel very calm and relaxed in the art room. Ms. Flowers is very kind to us.  If we make a mistake, Ms. Flowers always knows how to turn a messy scribble into a work of art! 

 -Elizabeth, 4th grade student


FV ESL 2Coming to Forest View from Other Countries: Stories from Forest View’s Newcomer ESL Class

My name is Luis. I am 11 years old. I moved here in April 2013 when I was 10 years old. 

Before I lived in the USA, I lived in El Salvador. El Salvador is a beautiful place. There are green houses, soccer fields, big trees, big dogs, and big cows. In El Salvador, you can hear cheering at soccer fields. You can taste delicious chicken. You can touch soft little chicks. You can see ugly snakes and colorful snakes. You can smell delicious pizza. 

Now I live in the USA. I go to Forest View Elementary School. I am in fourth grade in Ms. Biggs’ class. 

On my first day of school, I remember feeling nervous. Now I feel happy at school because I go to play soccer with my friends. My favorite moment of school is when I play soccer.  My favorite place at Forest View is the computer lab because I play games. 

Next year I will be in fifth grade. I hope that’s going to be fun because I am going to have a new teacher and good friends with me. 

-Luis, 4th grade student 

My name is Kevin. I am 11 years old. I moved here in October 2012 when I was 9 years old. Before I lived in the United States, I lived in MexicoFV ESL3

Oaxaca, Mexico is a grassless place. There are cows, pigs, dogs, cats, chickens, wolves, parrots and other birds, iguanas, horses, fish, sharks, insects, rabbits and frogs.  In Mexico, I liked to hear the cows. At parties, I liked to taste delicious pig meat. In Mirador, I liked to touch horses with soft hair. You can see colorful parrots. All my family liked to smell delicious iguana food cooking.

Now I live in Durham, North Carolina. I go to Forest View Elementary School. I am in fourth grade in Ms. Biggs’ class. On my first day of school, I felt nervous. Now I feel happy at school because I speak English.

 like to play. My favorite day of fourth grade was the carnival. My cousin and I had a race in a bouncy house!My favorite place at Forest View is the computer lab because I play games. My favorite moment is when I go play soccer because I

I like the USA and Forest View. Next year I will be in fifth grade. I hope to be an artist when I grow up.  

-Kevin, 4th grade student

My name is Habib. I am 10 years old. I moved here in 2012 when I was eight years old. 

Before I lived
in the United States, I lived in Jordan. Jordan is a big place. There are big buildings and so many markets and tall trees. I would ride on my horse really fast through open spaces.  In the morning I would give food to my hens and geese. In the afternoon I would play with my friends. At night I would sleep. 

Now I live in the United States. I go to Forest View Elementary School. I am in fourth grade in Ms. Biggs’ class. On my first day of
school [last year, in Mrs. Mann’s class], I felt shy and scared. Now I feel good at school because I am smart. 

My favorite day of fourth grade was when Ms. Ehinger made for me Bingo. My favorite place at Forest View is Ms. Ehinger’s class. 

Next year, I will be in fifth grade. I hope it will be a good year. When I grow up, I want to work as a police officer.

-Habib, 4th grade student


You walk into the school library and it’s immediately clear that the usual quiet rules don’t apply. Kids are scampering in every direction, waving to teachers, screeching at friends and engaging in high-level negotiations with their parents.

This is the book fair.

My two first-graders adore the book fair. It’s not like they don’t have any books at home; it’s not like we never take them to the public library and it’s not like we never shop at bookstores. But there’s just something about the book fair — which, as my son loves to point out, offers a two-for-one special – that really gets them going.

It’s chaos, really, a loud, daunting, high-stress environment for parents who just got off work and got sucked into this while trying to pick up their kids and head home. But instead of heading home, they’re stuck at the rear of a checkout line that snakes quickly to the back of the room as kids weave in and out, giggling and searching desperately for that book about Legos, Barbie princesses or the silly Fly Guy.

But that’s why I love it. This is a frenzy about books. Not video games or sports or toys or junk food or anything else. It’s about books and illustrates an interest in reading that teachers at Forest View have helped spark in our children.

And that’s why a little chaos is a very good thing.

-Eric Ferreri,  parent


May 2014 129From the first moment I walked into Forest View, I knew that I wanted my children to attend school here. The staff and teachers were friendly and welcoming, the halls were bright and colorful, the children were orderly and happy and their faces reflected our multicultural world. We were blessed to transfer into Forest View, even though it meant I had to provide transportation to and from school every day for the next 10 years!

In that decade, our family became a part of the Forest View community. I served as a room parent many times, chaperoned countless field trips, coordinated fundraising and served on the PTA. My husband designed the school website and monthly newsletters and worked hard for most of the landscape days. Our kids made great friends here (including some international friends they continue to hear from). We all looked forward to the annual traditions – the Fall Festival, Science Share, the Book Fairs, the Multicultural Festival, the annual picnic. Two of my children were on winning Battle of the Books teams and my third child had the chance to be on a Science Olympiad team. Through their experiences here, they developed character, confidence and many skills that have served them well in middle school and high school.

My advice to current Forest View families is to dive in and become involved. You and your children will get more out of the educational experience if you invest in this school. Get to know the teachers and the other families in your children’s classes. Volunteer. Come out for the Forest View annual traditions. Give your time and your resources to improve Forest View. From our experience, you will never have a better opportunity to become a part of your child’s educational community. In middle school and high school, it is more difficult for parents to connect with the school and each other. There aren’t as many field trips. The schools don’t as readily invite parents in and your children won’t be as excited to see you there. This is a precious time with your children. May you be blessed by becoming an integral part of their lives within the Forest View community.

-Debra Brazzel, Geoff, Blake, Trent and Nicole Dunkak

Forest View family, 2002-2012


DavidA few years ago, nationally-known educator Cathy Davidson asked if I could take her to a school that exemplifies the best in public education. Naturally, I took her to see Forest View. Cathy was working on her book  Now You See It: How Technology and Brain Science Will Transform Schools and Business for the 21st Century and was so impressed with what she saw she gave Forest View prominent mention.

-David Stein, Duke University Educational Partnerships Liaison

Not only is there art, and gardens, and garden art, and playgrounds, and color and brightness, but the warmth just flies at you from the second you step inside. Kids are joking in the hall, not walking in rows with their hands behind their backs. They seem to work in a lot of groups, not in rows, and so much is happening everywhere that I barely know where to look. —-from Now you See It. Cathy N. Davidson (2011)


My favorite time at Forest View is seeing Asha my big sister at the school like outside when I’m going in and she is going out. It is great to see my sister. It fills my heart.  Forest View is special.

-Devak, 1st grade student



 chickThat sultry May day was hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. My second graders were riveted and eagerly watching for any change as they huddled around a small, brown egg. But our egg wasn’t cooking. It was hatching! They watched as the crack began to grow giving glimpses of wet, rumpled feathers and little orange feet. And I watched as their excitement began to grow on their intensely focused faces. With one final push, our waiting ceased. Gleeful cheers burst out, and they spontaneously broke into song: “Happy birthday to you.” Yes. Welcome to our classroom community, fuzzy friend.

 -Elizabeth McRainey, teacher

You can watch the digital story  (with video of the chick hatching!) here.


One word to describe Forest View is a little hard to come by.  Forest View is such an amazing school, I can hardly find three, much less one, word to describe it. But, out of my five years at this wonderful school, only one word sums it all up: Forest View is amazing! A mix of all the cultures there are, Forest View teaching methods have never failed to bring out the best in students. One year at forest View was life changing- but five shaped my world! The school that rose up as a minor one, is now the home to about 720 students! That changes a lot of lives. So Forest View is amazing, but that word, in comparison, is an ant beside the mighty, smart, powerful, simply amazing falcon of Forest View.

-Sarah T. Forest View student 2008-2013


caroline 4th gradeMy fondest memory as a student at Forest View was my 4th grade teacher Ms. Miller and her long red finger nails. She would get really passionate about what was going on in the classroom and her finger would be waving at us with those red nails! At the time, I was a scared 9 year old. Ten years ago, I had the privilege of working beside her as an adult my first year at Forest View. It was then that I came to appreciate her and realize what an important role she played in my education. 

-Caroline Smith, Forest View Alumna; Forest View Teaching Assistant