Here’s the letter that’s making the rounds:

Dear Families, Parents, Students, and Staff,

We are writing this e-mail to ask for your participation in providing a voice to help support Asheville Middle School. We as parents are extremely thankful for those teachers who are committed to education and value diversity. There are many great programs and opportunities at Asheville Middle School. We would like to thank the Band & Strings teachers, Sports & IN REAL LIFE programs, the AIG teachers and all the other people that go into making AMS a unique school.

With so many parents across the economic spectrum choosing a different environment for their children to be educated, we’re hoping to effect change. It’s our belief that the School Board and Superintendent Johnson do not have the full picture of the day-to-day problems at AMS, nor do they realize just how many parents and children, of all races, have left or have chosen not to send their children to AMS because of the following voiced concerns: ineffective behavior management, violent behavior, bullying, lack of homework, low academic expectations, poor school-parent communication, failure of administration to deal with classrooms identified as poor learning environments, and poor follow through or utilization of good systems that are in place. With good Elementary Schools and excellent area High Schools, there is no reason to settle for a Middle School that has developed a poor reputation.

We are taking a two pronged approach to this:
1) We are requesting an Emergency Board Meeting with the Asheville City School Board, the Asheville City School Administration, and any other concerned community members in an open and public forum. At this meeting, parents, staff and students will have an opportunity to share their experiences as it relates to AMS. Speaking before the board is optional; and there is another way you can be heard, see #2. An Emergency Board Meeting can only be convened by a member of the Board, so we need parents to send an e-mail requesting such a meeting (see cut-n-paste section below).

2) In addition to speaking at the Emergency Board Meeting, we would also like to present letters and testimonials to the Board from parents, students and staff. We ask that you either send an e-mail directly to the Board members (see below) and/or forward your testimonial to us so we can prepare a packet for the Board members.

We would especially like to see the students participate in either of the two options above. A heartfelt testimonial from a current or past student would speak volumes to the Board. These letters are important so that the entire board can be aware of the depth and breadth of the concerns.

Finally, if you know any other families who are willing to share their experiences, please forward this info. We are hoping to hear from current, as well as past parents and families who have avoided AMS because of their perceptions, families who have left AMS because of problems, and, most of all, from kids who are not having a positive middle school experience at AMS. If we don’t act, the numbers of families and great teachers leaving AMS will increase and the level of safety and academics will continue to plummet. Thanks for taking the time to consider if you or anyone you know might be able to help.

If you wish to be added to a growing list of concerned parents, please reply to


Matt Buys, Hayley Holland, Carol May, Jim O’Brien



  1. Mrs. Sullivan will not be principal next year. Cynthia Sellinger, principal of Vance Elementary School, will take over as principal of Asheville Middle School as of July 1.

  2. Sofa_king_annoying says:


  3. Please stop being so annoying we are serious about change you are not please stop using this blog as Facebook

  4. Realdealcougar says:

    It is interesting to me that these parents are so called re specters of diversity, but so elegantly tap dance around the real issue here. They don’t want there children in classes with black children. The issues that they describe, are issues that are found in the black communities here in Asheville. If you do the math it all adds up to these few simple issues. #1. Asheville Middle is the first true and only melting pot in Asheville city schools in no other school will you find classes that are truely from all walks of life, not only race but also socioeconomic back grounds, multiple intelligences and creeds. #2 Why are these issues not prevelant at Asheville High, because by the time they get to high school the students are tracked into college bound, or tech prep. So you don’t see anywhere near as much racial social interaction you do at AMS. #3 It is very interesting the leaders of this coalition all live in the 28804 area code. Hmm, how many people of color do they interact with. Obviously not very many. If you want your children to be elitist and be catered to like elitist then you should pay like elitist.

    • If you think the problem here is black people, you obviously went to a school even worse than this one. The color of people’s skin has nothing whatsoever to do with the lack of learning and the bad administration.

    • Sullafelix says:

      Um, the only ‘melting pot’? Have you EVER looked at Woodfin elementary? There are 10/11 nationalities at that school. THAT is diversity. Most people, you included hear DIVERSITY and immediately think of black and white integration. That couldn’t be a more racist attitude. Before you start throwing words around, maybe you should look up the definition first.

  5. Sayresalspaugh says:

    My best friend goes to CDS and she hates it. End of story. Her stories about Carolina Day make me laugh. Really? You can get suspended if your shirt tail isn’t always tucked in? Woooooow. That really matters. Okay wow someone said a bad word! OMG lets freak out about it! Yup that CDS for you! Okay people are so worried about their children going to AMS, but they shouldn’t be! I learn a lot at school! If someone isn’t learning its either their fault or its just because the teacher may not be the best. If their teacher is effecting their learning, just switch teachers! No big deal! But no, at Carolina GAY its always the students fault. At CDS it’s all about the stupid honor code. Wow she was one minute late to class and she got in trouble and had to talk to a teacher about it… WOOOOOWWWWWW. They just got Macs and they can’t pay for pencils? And now to go there you have to have a mac? Yeah that makes a lot of sense. They also just got 200 iPads… dang. And the teachers get paid less there than at AMS. STUPID CDS. I understand that not many people are very pleased with AMS but it’s not as bad as implied. I know this year hasn’t been the best, bad things have happened. But thats why in the morning we have to go out to put or stuff in our lockers one homeroom at a time! And at the end of the day, car riders are let out 5 minutes later than bus riders to keep it safer. I know some changes at AMS should be made and clearly many people are working on it. So don’t worry so much.

  6. anonymous says:

    Well first of all i don’t go here but i really really want to. I go to Carolina freaking day and lets just say it sucks. you get suspended if u have ur shirt tail untucked to many times. like seriously!!!! and with all their stupid yellow card crap i just wanna shoot the principal. I HATE IT. DONT SEND UR CHILD TO CDS IF YOU LOVE THEM. ITS TERRIBLE.

  7. I would like to thank LeNoir Medlock, Melissa Stites, and Orbit DVD for their thoughtful comments below. My son is now finishing 8th grade and has had three wonderful years at AMS, growing creatively and academically. He’s been able to use his passion for filmmaking to create social studies projects that he can also use in his portfolio when he applies to the summer program at NC School of the Arts, he’s had three years of daily FREE cello lessons with the amazing Ruben Orengo, something we could not have afforded to give him, he’s been stretched to use his natural math skills by teachers who saw his potential early on at the school, allowing him to be in sophomore level geometry this year, he’ll be able to test out of Spanish 1 at high school because of his two years of Spanish. I have not been an active PTO member, but I have paid attention to those who are and LeNoir is certainly one of the best. If parents are concerned, why is it suddenly an emergency now? AMS is the most diverse school in our school system, giving our children a chance to navigate in larger arenas than the safety of our homes and immediate neighborhoods. Is that a little scary for parents? Sure. Are there occasional issues? Yes. But to act as if gangs and fights are the norm is to ignore reality. Am I happy with everything about the school? No, I could name at least two teachers I’d like to see sent their merry way. Have the good ones outnumbered and out-influenced the others? You bet they have. Was I seriously ticked off about the evangelical preacher brought to school? You bet I was. But let’s take individual issues for what they are. If teachers are not feeling adequately supported, then I am 100% in favor of the school district taking a thoughtful approach to ongoing conversations about ways to improve the school. But this does not feel like the beginning of a thoughtful conversation. It feels like incitement. I would like to know which AMS parents were chosen to receive this letter initially? Not those of us on the PTO email list. It seems like a self-selecting group and I am disappointed that this is the avenue that has been chosen to raise what may be genuine issues in need of long-term review.

  8. Melissa L. Sites says:

    I am a seventh grade parent of an AMS student. Let me begin by saying I am very pleased with AMS and all the opportunities available to our students.

    Here is the deal folks – we are a diverse city – we have a diverse community and AMS is a true reflection of our Asheville society. We as parents and students are very comfortable in our five very unique and small elementary schools. And I too was concerned about the transition into AMS. It is a big school – the population is literally five times what we and our kids are accustom to as elementary parents/students. Having said that, I have been so very impressed with the method in which our kids are introduced – sheltered from the other grades and organised to assure the easiest transition possible. There is a sixth grade wing that all other students are prohibited from entering – a separate drop off and pick up location all together.

    My daughter was invited to join the National Junior Honor Society, sixth grade. She is proudly excelling in Freshman Allgebra this year, seventh grade and will take Sophomore Geometry next year, eighth grade. She took Spanish in her sixth grade year and will take advanced Spanish in her eighth grade year. She will have completed two years of math and all her foreign language required for High School at AMS. She is excited at the thought of anearly transition into college classes her Junior year of high school and this is all thanks to the preparation and encouragement of the staff and teachers of AMS.

    BRAVO to Jesse Pitts the sixth grade councilor – use him and the resources put in place. My daughters transition was seamless and very exciting thanks to the channels available to our rising fifth graders. Shadowing – Band Camp – Previewing Exploitative Classes – In Real Life Classes – BRAVO to Mary Margaret Sullivan who has a tough job and faces it with tenacity and confidence each day – BRAVO to Mrs Garretson and Mrs Gibbs for working with and paying attention to our Academically Gifted students for offering field trips and situations in class that help support the freedom and rights of choice our kids have in AMS!

    My advise is to stop trying to shelter your kids – stop trying to project your own wants and needs on our administration regarding what you feel is an acceptable amount of homework – what you define as an acceptable amount of day to day communication – stop creating drama for our students and staff who are all doing their very best each day. Get involved – removing your child from AMS says you are not confident of their ability to make smart decisions – that actions demonstrates that you are not confident in the social and academic skills your child is equipped with by this age. If you are not pleased step up and get involved – be on campus – become a part of PTO.

    I am happy to talk with anyone who may have concerns or would like additional information about my experience. Melissa L. Sites, proud AMS parent.

  9. Wow. This is what I call “parking lot talk” gone viral. I have worked on the PTO board at AMS for the last three years. I have begged parents to become involved and help our school be the best it can be. Recently, we had a day of campus beautification and FOUR parents showed up…Were any of you there?

    Flight from the middle school has been going on since my days at Claxton 30 years ago. My parents pulled me from the middle school and I missed the opportunity to play in the band, start foreign language early and lost my honors tracking because my parents thought I would not be safe. Interestingly, all my friends graduated with me from AVL high and none were lost to knife fights.

    At AMS my son has gone to Earthshine, the Outer Banks and will be going to Costa Rica at the end of the year with his Spanish class because the teachers and PRINCIPAL have made this possible. His test scores have risen and he is currently taking an after school class with the head of TEDX AVL.

    Has every day at AMS been great? NO. Is everyday in your life great? NO. So before bashing others’ careers or saying things that you know little about or jumping on the band wagon of CONSISTENT complainers, PLEASE, get involved in the many, many positive things that are going on at AMS so that we can change the things that need help. LeNoir Medlock (call me with questions I am your fund raising chair at the middle school)

    • Ok earthshine, the outer banks, and costa rica have next to nothing to do with the principal. The teachers do everything to organize it and get the”OK” from the principal so please educate yourself before insulting us.

      • I am sorry you felt insulted by my points. Did you know that your AMS principal researched hundreds of national anti-bullying programs before adopting and raising the funds($1000 not budgeted by the district) for the program that was put in place this year? Did you know that your principal was instrumental in finally getting the Buncombe County Commissioners to ok funds to build a new modern facility for AMS? Did you know that your principal has put into place committees to help her teachers obtain grants to further creative teaching skills? Please, educate yourself about what the head administrator’s job description is. Also, if you would like to get involved the PTO could sure use some help. Contact us.

        • Having worked at ams for over 8 years, I can tell you first hand that you are wrong. The anti bullying program was initiated and funded by central office…it is being used at several schools and mrs Sullivan had nothing to do with it. She also had nothing to do with teacher grants that are funded by the acs foundation. Our school has gone from a pretty okay place to work to an environment that is forcing good teachers out. She has zero control over students and has not earned the respect of the staff due to extremely poor leadership skills and complete incompetence at every level. All grades but sixth are completely out of control. She needs to go…along with some others.

          • I personally helped raise the $1000 for the program after Ms. Sullivan came to the PTO to help find the money for the anti-bullying program. Maybe you are thinking of another program.

        • Having worked at ams for over 8 years, I can tell you first hand that you are wrong. The anti bullying program was initiated and funded by central office…it is being used at several schools and mrs Sullivan had nothing to do with it. She also had nothing to do with teacher grants that are funded by the acs foundation. Our school has gone from a pretty okay place to work to an environment that is forcing good teachers out. She has zero control over students and has not earned the respect of the staff due to extremely poor leadership skills and complete incompetence at every level. All grades but sixth are completely out of control. She needs to go…along with some others.

  10. AMS 7th grade student says:

    Do you not care about not learning much academically?
    Do you not care about not being prepared for high school?
    I think you do. AMS can teach things and still be real life.

  11. Humty shoult be canned

  12. Well in all this ruckus I wrote myself a poem and it go’s a little something like this.

    This is dedicated to AMS’s beloved principal

    Some people say she’s good, but most think she ‘aint
    Our principal, Humpty Dupmty, she fell in red paint

  13. just to let you get a idea of what is happening at ams… gym class with about 10 min to go our gym teacher let two boys fight and let us crowd around them. the two boys fighted and one was dropped on the head…… i am a seventh grader and i am deeply concerned

  14. Why are people bringing Mr. Martin’s presentation into the conversation? I wholeheartedly agree that religion should be left out of schools, but maybe that should be another thread.

    • Exactly this whole isn’t just that its the big picture I am a student at ams and I really could care less about the whole religion talk. It’s the big picture……the bullying,sexual harrasment,drugs,fighting (gang fights), no communication and the lack of teaching being done ( I can say I havnt learned anything)… So please something needs to be done because the situation Is crazy and terrible. I…we..need help so do all you can to save ams

      • disapointed says:

        That’s is comepletely true. I myself left AMS because of the horribble place to learn with kids screaming everywhere, the teachers that could care less if their students didn’t learn anything this year, who bully the students, the total “lack of dicipline”, and not enough academic challenges. I was really disapoimted in AMS because I was really excited to go there. But soon into my second year, I had realized it was not the place for me. The only good things about the middle school is that there are some good teachers like the algebra and Geometry and AIG teachers and some scaterred rising stars throughout the grades. Is this what type of school the Little Rock Nine intergrated for, I think not. Be glad that I did not say all of the bad things going on at AMS.

        • My daughter who is a a college bound senior went to AMS and my son is seventh grader there now. Though they both say that they have experienced some of what you speak of, they say a lot of the problems is due to the way the students themselves handle the situations. Middle school is always going to be tough no matter where you go.

        • We know this is you quin quin

  15. what's the problem again? says:

    My son is a rising 6th grader we are planning on sending to AMS. Should I be worried? This has my wife and mother-in-law freaking out. AMS doesn’t have a good reputation but I said it was fine (being a long ago alumi myself) am I missing something here?

    • We were warned 7 years ago with our daughter, but we started to think… why would Asheville High have such a stellar reputation if AMS was so bad? She loved it and my son is in there right now.

      Part of the problem is during this age kids go through major changes physically, socially and mentally. It doesn’t matter if you stick them in a school with just 20 students or 2000, the same problems will still arise.

      • what's the problem again? says:

        To me it sounds like part of the problem is those who can afford to, or have the option to, leave AMS they do, and leave it in the dust. We are not in such a convenient position that it is necessarily a choice for us to leave. It sounds like a self fulfilling prophecy, those who would support and help AMS are the first ones to jump ship. It’s a minor case of class warfare.

      • Orbit DVD if you think that nothing is going On at ams please come and see all of the prOblems that occur

        • My one child has told us about everything that happens there. Oddly enough it reminds me exactly of my middle school 30 years ago.

          Can things be better? Of course.

        • Orbit DVD is right. Kids are going through that kids are going through major changes physically, socially and mentally. However, environment can make a difference.

          Shameless plug….

          Arthur Morgan School (AMS) is a progressive boarding and day school for 27 girls and boys in grades 7, 8 and 9. AMS is located on 100 acres of farm and wilderness in the Celo Community, about an hour north of Asheville, North Carolina.

          • Haha! That is a shameless plug:) But we love Arthur Morgan school, too. However, most people cannot afford that kind of tuition, and Arthur Morgan can not accept the number of students that AMS can. There is also Outdoor Academy for those who might like to change schools.

    • Aidan Obrien says:

      Yes my son is a seventh grader at ams and is constantly coming home and telling us bizzare storys about gang fights drugs. So yes you should be worried we are trying to start a a move ment because we want change in the way things are going.

      • Middle School Teacher says:

        As a middle school teacher, I would like to add that many times these things could be addressed if students would speak up and tell an adult at school. Earlier this year, when it was reported that a student was taking someone else’s lunch, not one student would give us any information to help us resolve the matter, even when asked directly in private. Later we found out that nearly every single child sitting at the table was aware of what was going on but didn’t want to be the “snitch.” My children are very comfortable talking to me, but even I couldn’t break through the barrier.

        I am NOT trying to deflect the blame onto the students, but rather point out another aspect of typical middle school behavior. Since I believe we all want to be part of the solution, I would like to encourage parents and students to have a conversation about the good students’ role in reform.

        • concerned parent says:

          My son tells a teacher about being bullied and she has done nothing. The entire class complains about one of their teachers who makes fun of kids, humiliates kids in the class, and she has done nothing. Or if she has, nothing has been done about it. I think the teachers are terrified to stand up to the administration.

  16. Shadowblast92 says:

    Mrs.Sullivan is a bad principal at AMS. Major changes need to be made at AMS.
    I agree with this letter 100%.

    • The master mind :) says:

      I believe that ams’s principal is terrible. But even though we don’t get bucket loads of homework we still (some of us) stugle in regular classes. So maybe the focus should be on the teachers behavior. Teachers like Ms.kalen Mr.burgner Ms.horten. Kids act up when they feel they do not all have equal rights. Racism gangs even violence is not that bad. So one kid gets jumped. No reason for the whole entire school to be put on lock down. Also whether you go to AMS or AHS you will find druggies. Even at elementary schools. So just chill out about it. Obviously the students there can handle it fine.

  17. This is what I got from a Charlie Glazener:

    >>>Thank you for your recent email concerning the assembly at Asheville Middle School on April 19th. Asheville City Schools recognizes the responsibility it has in educating students from all religious and non-religious backgrounds. We strive to provide students with an inclusive, supportive environment that does not promote or single out any particular faith or belief system. We realize that issues of religion and faith must be left to parents and their churches and synagogues or other places of worship.
    Often times someone’s words and actions can be perceived very differently depending on the lens with which we view them. We understand that, while some students and their parents had no concerns regarding Mr. Martin’s remarks to the students last Thursday, other students and their parents do have legitimate questions and concerns about some of the content of Mr. Martin’s presentation. Fortunately, middle school students are typically mature enough to benefit from a conversation about these issues with their teachers and parents. While that happens, the school district will also take the opportunity to learn and grow from this incident.
    Please know that Asheville City Schools will redouble our efforts to make sure that all students are validated, valued and respected.>>>

    Seems rather canned. “Perceived”, indeed– if the concerns of some are “legitimate”, then why are they leaving it up to families to have rousing discussions of this? Learn and grow? I hope they learn NOT to have assemblies pushing any one religion in a PUBLIC SCHOOL. Damn, I am really freaking outraged, in light of the NWR issue. Really? REALLY, people?

    Freaking GRRR.

  18. When is it? I looked this over a couple times and maybe I just need a 2nd pair of eyes to point it out to me?

  19. I hadn’t gotten this email just yet but I have already contacted the principal twice, the superintendent, and notified the Americans United (especially since they have been on board with the bible issue at North Windy Ridge). I would love to see this emergency meeting happen and I encourage ALL taxpayers (no need to be a parent of AMS!) to express your concerns to the Board.

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