Last updated: June 25. 2014 4:12PM - 1037 Views
By - dbroyles@civitasmedia.com



Exceptional Children Teacher Ashley Parsons (left) and math teachers Brittany Levy, Amanda Bledsoe and Stephanie Hawks discuss the finer points of moving to a multi- or mixed-grade teaching concept with teachers working together in rotating teams to allow more student centered learning opportunities.
Exceptional Children Teacher Ashley Parsons (left) and math teachers Brittany Levy, Amanda Bledsoe and Stephanie Hawks discuss the finer points of moving to a multi- or mixed-grade teaching concept with teachers working together in rotating teams to allow more student centered learning opportunities.
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Meadowview Middle School’s transition to Meadowview Magnet School advanced this week as teachers and staff met in development workshops to create more collaborative teacher Professional Learning Communities (PLC) dedicated to to adding more student educational opportunities at an earlier level.


Traditionally, magnet schools are free public elementary and secondary schools organized around a focused theme and aligned curriculum such as Science, Technology and Engineering (STEM). One underpinning of the local effort is to allow students more educational customization as well as the ability to earn high school credit in areas they excel at without having to skip an entire grade.


Principal Denny Barr said the full week of development activities will be followed with periodic planning sessions in July then another full week in August. Current figures indicate the school will serve 425 students when it officially opens its doors to students on August 25. Projections forecast a three year plan to fully implement the concept.


“There will be no seat time at Meadowview going forward with this,” said Barr. “If kids can accelerate we’ll allow them.” He explained the school will be one of the first to benefit through an $800,00 Education and Workforce Innovation grant. The goal of the grant is to accelerate innovation and partnerships with business and higher education in schools throughout North Carolina and foster educational innovation in public schools.


The fund grants were created in the 2013 legislative session and intended to support five-year programs with an emphasis on STEM skills in 30 districts throughout the state. The system also plans to use the grant to expand STEM initiatives and creating a district Science Institute. Additional support comes from the group, NewSchools.


“NewSchools is an organization that partners with public school systems to bring innovations to education,” said Assistant Principal Shelly Bryant. She explained the group will send instructors to observe, model lessons, co-teach and plan with all teachers in the school.” She said the transition at Meadowview will place emphasis on hands-on, inquiry- and project-based learning and other student centered learning opportunities.


Barr said the support to the school has allowed them a gain of 37 students while decreasing class size from 24 to 18 students. Students will be bused from their respective districts to the magnet school.


Jeff Edmonds, formerly from Surry Early College, has been tapped to serve as director of the Science Center and will serve the entire system, even though the new center will be housed at Meadowview. Barr said the institute and magnet school will serve as laboratories for piloting teaching practices used throughout the district and support college pathways aligned with Surry Community College and workforce development needs in the county.


“The center will be a resource with students brought to it, as well as Jeff going out and delivering science instruction at all schools,” said Bryant. “You can see the excitement in the teacher’s eyes this week. They are seeing more tangible things as they are making things happen.”


Reach David Broyles at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.

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