Tour highlights micro-school pilot

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North-Phillips School of Innovation eighth-grader Darquavious Lancaster, 14, right, talks with Claire Goebel about his design showcase project ‘Dropping Out of School’ during the school visit event Tuesday at North Edgecombe High School.


Staff Writer

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Edgecombe County Public Schools kicked off this year’s series of school visits designed to highlight the innovative educational practices used in the county with a tour of the North-Phillips School of Innovation, eastern North Carolina’s first micro-school pilot. 

The school visits are sponsored by the Edgecombe County Public Schools Blue Ribbon Commission on Educational Equity. The purpose of the visits is to solicit community input on the district’s vision for graduates and to receive feedback from the community on how they can continue to improve so they can realize that vision, according to a press release sent out by Edgecombe County Public Schools.

"We have so many innovative practices happening in all of our schools. We are excited to showcase some of the incredible work taking place across the district," said Erin Swanson, director of innovation for the school district.

On Tuesday, eighth-grade students from Phillips Middle School and ninth-grade students from North Edgecombe High School demonstrated projects that can be accomplished through the collaborative efforts of the students who are part of the micro school pilot on the campus of North Edgecombe High School. The 30 students in this year’s pilot program spend much of their time learning together in a project-based learning format that incorporates design-thinking skills.

Though the students have worked on various projects throughout the year, this round of projects focused in issues of importance to teens. Darquavious Lancaster, 14, worked on a slide show project, for instance, that examined reasons students drop out of school and why staying in school is important.

Derrick Bailey and Nicholas Lewis were two members of a team that examined the reasons behind teen homelessness and possible solutions to the problem.

“My goal is to create a nonprofit organization to help homeless children and teens,” said Bailey, who is 14 years old. He has already created a 12-page document outlining his approach entitled “Help a Child to Save a Child.”

Breyia Alston, 16, Ayanah Wright, 13, and Lloli Ramirez, 15, worked together to create a site on social media called the stdhelpline to provide information and resources to teens who have questions about sexually transmitted diseases. They gathered stories and ideas from their peers, who, they say, are more willing to discuss these issues with other teenagers than with adults.

Wright said the freedom to select project ideas is part of what she likes about the approach used in the micro school.

“I like the fact that we were able to specially choose this topic. We generally get to choose projects that are related to what we are learning in school or what we are interested in so it is more relevant,” Wright said.

Alston said she feels more in charge of her own learning with this approach.

“I can work alone or in a group and focus my learning on my own future goals and interests. I think this is better preparing me for college,” she said.

Mijay Johnson, 15, worked on a project dealing with gangs. Johnson said he has really benefited from the new approach this year.

“This is a lot different. In the past, I haven’t gotten as much help and attention as I needed in school and this year I feel like I get all the attention I need,” he said.

Two more school visits are planned for the month of May. All parents and community members are invited to participate. All parents and community members are invited to attend these school visits:

■ People can see how the school district’s innovative Opportunity Culture approach to developing teacher leadership works by touring Martin Millennium Academy from 9 to 10:30 a.m. on May 1. The school is located at 400 East Johnston St. in Tarboro

■ The new hands-on STEM lab will be open to the public at Stocks Elementary School from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on May 14. The school is located at 400 West Hope Lodge St. in Tarboro