July 29, 2014 - This summer, employees at Ingersoll Rand's Davidson, N.C., corporate center welcomed 16 teachers, principals and school counselors from across North Carolina for an event focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education. STEM Day was orchestrated by North Carolina New Schools as part of its vision to prepare students for careers in STEM-related fields.Read More
Educators and Ingersoll Rand employees came together to discuss the role of STEM in industrial businesses and provide insight on how science, technology, engineering and math are used in various jobs throughout a manufacturing company.
July 26, 2014 - A small but growing number of science and math teachers aren't spending the summer at the beach or catching up on books, they're toiling at companies, practicing the principles they teach.Read More
As American education focuses on closing the gap between the classroom and employers' needs, programs in North Carolina, California and elsewhere are putting teachers temporarily in the workplace.
Chris England is one of those teachers using a fellowship that starts with a summer spell with a company, university or government agency. He is wrapping up a five-week stint in the research and development labs of a Danish company in Franklinton, about 30 miles north of Raleigh. The 25-year-old science teacher went straight to work at nearby Louisburg High School after graduating from college.
"Being able to actually do an experiment and see the problems that come up from that experiment, try to analyze my data, see the problems in my data, revise my experiment - that's stuff that I never did when I was in college," England said.
Now he's working alongside scientists at the company Novozymes, trying to determine whether enzymes - proteins produced by microorganisms that speed up chemical reactions - can be used to capture carbon dioxide at coal-fired power plants. England said he's become more nimble with lab equipment and realized that science-based companies also need office managers and custodial workers.
"It means when I'm going to give career advice, I'm no longer faking it," England said. "I went straight from college into education. I had no, quote, real-world experience. And so when I would give kids career advice, it would be kind of vague. Now it's much more concrete."
England is one of hundreds of North Carolina teachers since 2003 given year-long fellowships of up to $10,000 to improve their intimacy with science, starting with a summer spell with a company, university or government agency. The initiative of the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology & Science at North Carolina State University gets its funding from foundations, companies and the National Science Foundation.
Brittani Mallard-Metts spent a couple of weeks at Internet gear maker Cisco Systems Inc. last summer thanks to a program run by the group North Carolina New Schools. Describing the multi-continent video training sessions and workplace got the attention of her students in rural Duplin County, about 80 miles southeast of Raleigh, where the major employers are pork and poultry producers and processers.
July 5, 2014 - In a few more weeks, 100 ninth-graders from around Mecklenburg County will report to UNC Charlotte to start a five-year high school career.Read More
Students at the Charlotte Engineering Early College High School -- a partner with NC New Schools -- will not only pioneer a new curriculum but a new approach to high school in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Students will spend three years doing their high school work and two more taking college classes at no charge.
That was enough to entice 14-year-old James Baysinger to leave behind his friends in the Steele Creek area of southwest Charlotte and sign up for a long bus ride across town. He'll report to class on Aug. 11 -- following the UNCC calendar, rather than starting Aug. 25 with most of CMS -- to meet his new classmates and their six teachers.
James admits to being a bit anxious, but the trade-off is "I won't be as confused when I go to real college." And of course his parents are psyched about the free college and the fast track to a good career.
July 4, 2014 - "Early College" high school students in North Carolina are experiencing higher levels of success than many of their peers at traditional high schools, according to research conducted by Dr. Julie Edmunds at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG).Read More
Edmunds has been tracking the progress of early college students since 2006 and has found positive impacts at the high school and college levels. In her study, 86 percent of early college students enrolled in college compared to 65 percent of the control group.
Stokes Early College High School Principal Steven Hall said he had seen similar success in the last two graduating classes.
"Stokes Early College just graduated our second class," he said. "Out of the total 54 students 45 went on to further their education with the other 9 either entering the military or workforce."
Edmunds has been awarded a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to conduct additional research into the success of early college students at higher education institutions. Early data suggests these students will outperform traditional high school students at the post-secondary level.
The Daily Dispatch | Early college offers options; Study: Students perform better in alternative program
July 4, 2014 - Students in early colleges will outperform traditional high school students in post-secondary education, a new study found.Read More
Julie Edmunds, program director for secondary school reform at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, tracked high school-aged teens from 2006 to college.
She compared regular high school to early college and found students more engaged in learning, accounting for better attendance and lower suspension rates; successful in applied skills and courses needed for college; and involved in powerful relationships with effective instruction and greater academic, emotional and social support.
Stan Winborne, Granville County Schools spokesman, said early college students in his district perform better.
"It's just an amazing opportunity to get ahead further than your traditional high school counterparts do," he said. "The graduation rate at the early college is much higher, and the dropout rate is lower."
Vance County Early College High School also sees more students graduate than does the district, which had the lowest rate in the state.
In the 2013-2014 school year, the school graduated 93.5 percent of its senior class, compared to the district's rate of 64.9 percent in 2012-2013, according to a four-year cohort report from the North Carolina Department of Public Schools.
Assistant Superintendent Trixie Brooks said early college is an influential part of Vance County and gives students a head start.
"Because of the structure of our early college program, many of them walk way with college credits," she said. "That is just the way the program is designed."
June 24, 2014 - When students ask "Why do we need to learn this?" in their math and science classes next year, dozens of teachers will have answers.Read More
Almost 200 teachers visited 13 Charlotte-area employers Monday to see science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, skills in action. The workplace tours were organized by NC New Schools, a Raleigh-based public-private effort aimed at promoting school innovation to increase students' college and career readiness.
Monday's event is a lead-in to a three-day N.C. New Schools summer institute in Concord, which is expected to attract more than 800 educators. Hosts ranged from the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis and Duke Energy's McGuire Nuclear Station to Charlotte's Coca-Cola bottling plant. At the Coke plant, teachers learned about the physics of machines that can screw on up to 900 bottle caps a minute, the process used to mix 51 flavors of soft drinks and the chemistry involved in creating plastic bottles that hold in the carbon dioxide that gives drinks their fizz.
"Wow. Just wow," said David Jenkins, a teacher at Lenoir County Early College High School. He had proudly claimed a Sprite can that didn't have the top crimped on, part of a demonstration on how drinks are canned.
June 24, 2014 - A dozen teachers from across the state visited Mickey Wilson's lab at the North Carolina Research Campus for the opportunity to test an experiment to potentially take back to their classrooms.Read More
Not only could the experiment be a fun, hands-on STEM activity, but it could also lead to the discovery of a new antibiotic. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.
"It's discovery science at its best," Wilson said.
North Carolina New Schools hosted the STEM day activities at the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis. The teachers got to test the antibacterial properties of various plants by applying a sample of their own saliva into petri dishes with samples of plants to watch for growth of bacteria.
"We've developed a kit that anyone can use," Wilson said.
Each kit, which costs only a dollar, contains a large tube with gel powder, a small tube, a 24-well assay plate and a graduated pipet.
The teachers planted samples into small pieces, putting them in different wells, and then covering them with a gel solution made from the powder in the larger tube.
June 23, 2014 - A group of teachers were given exclusive access inside the Coca Cola bottling plant for a special tour meant to them help them help their students understand the real life use of STEM.Read More
It's a rare look inside the making of a classic, thanks to the third annual STEM Day hosted by NC New Schools.
June 11, 2014 - David Jenkins is a chemistry instructor at Lenoir County Early College High School in Kinston. He enjoys seeking and providing opportunities for his students in science, including visits to the medical school at ECU and the pharmacy school at UNC. Whether it be a tour or participation in a project, Mr. Jenkins wants his students to have firsthand experience and knowledge about the programs in science that are available to them as they plan for their future.Read More
A student nominated Mr. Jenkins. She wrote: "Mr. Jenkins deeply inspires every student he comes in contact with. He is a fun-loving, happy, thoughtful, encouraging, smart, funny, person. There are not enough positive adjectives to describe my wonderful teacher. At any chance he gets he is always trying to make learning as fun as possible… Mr. Jenkins is the best teacher to go to talk about school, possible careers, science, and basically life because he always encourages all of his students to pursue their dreams… In class Mr. Jenkins makes sure that each and every student understands each concept thoroughly before he moves on. My number one inspiration is Mr. Jenkins, because he encourages everyone to always do their best!"
May 24, 2014 - Buncombe County school officials have selected the 100 students who will make up the first class of the new Buncombe Discovery Academy, which opens this August and is partnering with NC New Schools. The incoming freshmen were selected from 140 students who submitted an essay or video clip as part of their application to the new STEM school.Read More
"We will open with 100 students for freshman class, and each year we will add 100 more through the course of four years so we have a total enrollment of approximately 400 students," said Nathan Allison, who was named the school's new principal earlier this month.
Allison, 40, is a former math teacher. He spent the last eight years as an assistant principal at Reynolds High.
"I'm very excited," Allison said. "I think it's going to be a wonderful opportunity for students and teachers and the community."
Allison said his idea of success is creating a "student-centered, student-focused" school.
"I want to create an environment that's focused around those students, and a place where they can have fun and learn the necessary skills to be successful in real life," he said.
Allison said the chance for hands-on learning is one of the things that students are excited about. Students will have "the ability to actually get up, move around, get their hands dirty, hands-on activities, work on projects within the school day."
"It's that different style of education. It's not sitting in rows in desks," Allison said.