Media Coverage - 2014

  • Triad Business Journal | Yadkin Valley Regional Career Academy considers adding software development skills training

    April 9, 2014 - As student applications have nearly tripled, Yadkin Valley Regional Career Academy is looking ahead and considering whether to add software development as an instructional area.

    The industry-focused high school near Lexington opened in August 2012 as part of a larger plan to train Triad youth for careers such as health sciences, logistics and advanced manufacturing. But James Fitzgerald, CEO of the academy, says the school is now mulling whether to add a career focus on software development.

    Such a program could help supply qualified workers for local software development companies such as Winston-Salem-based Small Footprint Inc., whose chief technology officer, Patrick Turner, is a member of the school's board of advisers. Small Footprint and other software companies have visited the academy to help foster the potential career focus with a program called The Hour of Code, an interactive hour that gives students an opportunity to code.

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  • NC Now | Durham school is changing how students learn

    April 3, 2014 - UNC-TV's "North Carolina Now" features Durham's City of Medicine Academy, a partner of NC New Schools.

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  • Asheville Citizen-Times | Buncombe gets $1 million for science education

    March 20, 2014 - North Carolina and a private donor gave Buncombe County schools $1 million to pay for enriched science education for fifth-graders, officials said this week. The state's newly created Education and Workforce Innovation Fund gave $800,000. Lawmakers set up the fund last year. An unidentified donor gave $200,000 as a match. The school district was among 11 getting grants from the fund, ranging from $350,000 to $800,000 for five-year programs.

    "These dollars will expand Buncombe County Schools' capacity to deliver robust science instruction and grow our students' capacity for critical thinking and scientific inquiry," said Superintendent Tony Baldwin in a written statement. "We are thrilled to be one of eleven districts chosen to receive these awards."

    The money in Buncombe County will mean:
    - The addition of a STEM instructional coach serving elementary teachers.
    - Focused professional development in STEM subjects for existing instructional coaches and classroom teachers.
    - A range of engaging STEM classroom materials, including the award-winning Project Lead The Way - bringing the program to the elementary level for the first time in the county.
    - The expansion of existing STEM job shadowing and summer camp opportunities to include Buncombe County Schools' fourth and fifth graders.
    - Strategic planning and leadership development through North Carolina New Schools.

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  • Asheville Citizen-Times | STEM 101

    March 13, 2014 - As the application deadline for Western North Carolina's first STEM-themed high school nears, school administrators say they're still hearing some of the most basic questions from students and parents on what the new school will really look like.

    Who, exactly, is the school being built for? And what does a student need to do to get admitted?

    "There is already some pretty significant interest, to say the least," said Christy Cheek, the school system's director of career technical education. We're hearing a surprising amount from students who may have left the district for homeschooling or even private schools interested in coming back for this, which is pretty exciting," she said.

    The school, which will be called the Buncombe Discovery Academy, is accepting applications through March 28. The school is partnering with NC New Schools.

    It represents one of the school district's biggest-ever undertakings and has been years in the making.

    Administrators spent much of that time talking with business and community leaders to make sure the curriculum reflected the region's economy, with a focus on fields like advanced manufacturing and health care.

    "It's a huge undertaking," assistant superintendent Susanne Swanger said. "Any time you're personalizing an education to an individual student, you're taking on a lot."

    "This may be the most thoroughly-researched and thought-out project we've ever taken on."

    The STEM school - standing for science, technology, engineering and math - will replace the former Career Technical Education Center, sharing space with the county school system's administrative offices at 175 Bingham Road.

    One hundred students will be admitted for classes starting in August. The school will grow to an enrollment of 400.

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  • Charlotte Observer | Principal Named to Partner School in CMS

    March 12, 2014 - Popular Butler High School Principal Will Leach is leaving the school for another Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools assignment. At its Tuesday night meeting, the school board approved appointing Leach to take over the new UNCC Energy Production and Infrastructure Center Early College, a school partnering with NC New Schools.

    That program will give high-achieving CMS students a chance to attend high school on the UNC Charlotte campus. It begins in the 2014-15 academic year and is similar to the CMS programs at CPCC's Cato and Levine campuses.

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  • The Washington Daily News | Columbia Early College student to be featured speaker at BCCC Black History Month event

    February 20, 2014 - Columbia, N.C., resident, Daniel Garza Salazar, a student at Beaufort County Community College knows what it takes to succeed. A native of Durango, Mexico, Garza Salazar came to the United States, settling in Dare County with his parents when he was three years old and moved to Tyrrell County when he was seven.

    While now enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Garza Salazar said he can apply his experiences as an initially undocumented United States resident to the experiences of other minorities in the state and nation who have overcome great odds. That's why Garza Salazar was chosen to be a featured speaker at BCCC's Black History Month Celebration to be held 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 27, in the Multi-purpose Room of Building 10. It is offered free of charge to the public.

    The theme of the celebration, sponsored by BCCC's Men of Success, is "Breaking Every Chain." Garza Salazar said that although the theme refers to the chains of slavery, he will discuss the metaphorical side of breaking the chain.

    Garza Salazar, 18, entered Columbia Early College High School in the ninth grade and at the end of this semester, will be the first student to successfully complete the fifth year. Early college high school students attend high school and college simultanenously and at the end of five years, have the chance to graduate with a high school diploma and the associate's degree of their choice.

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  • N&O Op-Ed | Teaming up to create a high quality workforce for NC

    February 9, 2014 - The Emerging Issues Forum at N.C. State University on the connection between a high-caliber teacher corps and the state's economic competitiveness couldn't be timelier.

    A national discussion is underway -- many say it's a crisis -- about the growing gaps in wealth and income between Americans at the top and the bottom. Many worry that we are developing a bifurcated economy and a bifurcated society. However, it is within our power, in communities across North Carolina, to defy conventional thinking, set big goals and drive the institutional changes and business behaviors needed to help prosperity become a reality for everyone.

    If we agree about the importance of young people as our future workforce -- as our nation's economic lifeline -- then we obviously have a lot at stake. All of our businesses depend on having a strong, motivated workforce.

    But the larger economic problems created when our young people are unprepared for good jobs are a challenge to all of us. Teachers, even exceptional ones, certainly cannot by themselves ensure their students are ready for today's jobs. They are part of a bigger picture, and the bigger picture is how all of us can make sure our youth are prepared for the competitive, high-skilled economy in the Research Triangle and beyond. Our teachers need the support of the entire community -- particularly the business community....

    City of Medicine Academy, a Durham public school and NC New Schools partner at Duke Regional Hospital, is opening opportunities for students interested in health care careers by giving them direct experience in the real world of medicine. Duke provides assistance in funding, tutoring and mentorship. Students extend their learning through internships and job shadowing experiences throughout Duke Medicine. Of its first four graduating classes, the school has achieved an impressive graduation rate of at least 95 percent, and this year it is on track for a 100 percent graduation rate.

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  • Asheville Citizen-Times | New Buncombe Discovery Academy unveiled

    February 3, 2014 - Valley Springs Middle School eighth-grader Woods Burton loves anything to do with science. That's why he's anxious to secure a spot in the first class this coming fall at the new Buncombe Discovery Academy, a high school emphasizing hands-on learning in science, technology, engineering and math.

    "I think it would be really fun to go there," said Burton, who, along with elected officials, business leaders, educators, parents and other students, attended an event Saturday celebrating progress on the school. "It would help me find a career that would be good for me."

    What he finds especially appealing is the hands-on approach, known as kinesthetic learning, the school system plans to implement. The project has been in development for nearly three years.

    "So, instead of just learning what something is, we actually get to work with it and do it," Burton said. "I just want to do anything in the science field."

    Officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony inside the recently completed "minitorium," which is to be an integral part of the school still under construction. The academy will replace the former Career Technical Education Center, sharing space with the school system's administrative offices on Bingham Road.

    The vision for the school is "a 21st century model of innovation and academic relevance," Superintendent Tony Baldwin told the crowd. "I truly believe that's what you're going to see with this Discovery Academy.

    "Creativity, collaboration, academic rigor and project-based learning will be frequently used words to describe our STEM academy."

    STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

    The N.C. Board of Education last month approved plans for the school, which will begin accepting applications this month. Community and parent meetings are to offer more detail.

    "This is a very exciting day," said Tony Habit, director of N.C. New Schools, which helps STEM-themed schools get off the ground. "This academy and this event is the Super Bowl for education in North Carolina. We know this is going to be profoundly successful going forward."

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  • Elkin Tribune | Board of Education Approves Partnership

    January 30, 2014 - A motion was granted for a summer enrichment program and to seek funds in the form of a $1.2 million grant from the Education and Workforce Innovation Initiative.

    Cynthia Altemueller spoke to the board about the possibility of receiving $470,000 in grant money to participate in the North Carolina Digital Learning consortium. If the school system receives the grant, Elkin teachers will have the opportunity to attend regional conferences to work on and learn digital content relative to content they teach.

    In addition to conferences, there will be made available from the money, workshops for teachers, assessment and instructional tools. These tools will allow them to collect data relative to grade and content for the monitoring of learning progress. Altemueller said they will find out in February whether they have received funding.

    There also was approval to partner with North Carolina New Schools program and into phase two of adding the high school to a "STEAM initiative" in which Bledsoe said the schools "look for people to move us into new concepts" and "help students reach future goals in various ways."

    Part of the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) education program is rooted in a group discovery format with initiatives based on a Gates Foundation model. The school will be responsible for reimbursing the contract with them over two years.

    "I believe it is the best way for us to move forward with our transformation," said Bledsoe.

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  • Daily Tar Heel | Nonprofit to receive $10 million grant to fund college advisers

    January 28, 2014 - College Advising Corps, a North Carolina nonprofit, was recently awarded $10 million in a three-year grant to help high school students, especially low-income and first-generation students, in rural areas of the state plan for college. With the help of the grant, the program will partner with UNC, Davidson College and N.C. State University to place college graduates in 60 rural N.C. high schools as advisers. The graduates serve as college advisers for two years in under-served high schools to help students navigate the ins and outs of applying to and attending college.

    Emily Simpson, who works as an adviser at North Surry High School and graduated from UNC in 2012, said she has seen a shift in students' attitudes toward college since her arrival at the school a year and a half ago.

    "They're being more proactive," she said. "And the teachers and the community are on board with what we're trying to do and the culture toward college is slowly starting to shift, which is great."

    Simpson said she is excited about the grant because she believes the advisers are an invaluable resource in connecting students to the college application process.

    Lynne Garrison, a senior vice president of North Carolina New Schools, said she applauds the Belk endowment for its commitment to helping students graduate from college, a mission that her organization shares.

    "This announcement provides a new level of support for young people in rural North Carolina to help them prepare and advance to college and earn that important degree," she said.

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