Global school scheduled for August opening

By Jim Holt

Staff Writer

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Large crowds turned out at the first two of several meetings Edgecombe County Public Schools officials have organized regarding the district’s recent initiative to open a “global school.”

More than 250 parents and guests gathered at Stocks Elementary School in mid-December to hear John Farrelly, the district’s superintendent, talk about the system’s plans for having a school in which students learn in multiple languages.

At the core of the new initiative in Edgecombe County Public Schools is the effort to open up Martin Millennium Academy – a K-8 global school slated to open in August.

“The school district is thrilled to offer students in Edgecombe County a true global education. Our comprehensive plan will reconfigure three schools in Tarboro that have needed to be revamped,” Farrelly said. “We are going to provide state-of-the-art global educational resources to all 14 of our schools.”

Martin Millennium Academy will offer a dual language program for students beginning in kindergarten.

The school will contain kindergarten through eighth grades, and feeder schools will be reconfigured as a result of the shifts in student assignment.

Stocks Elementary will house students in prekindergarten through fifth grade, and W.A. Pattillo School will serve students in sixth through eighth grade.

School officials organized two meetings in December to show the community their plans and get feedback, and school officials have two more meetings slated for this month.

The next meeting will kick off at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Carver Elementary School followed by another 6:30 p.m. meeting on Jan. 14 at Coker-Wimberly Elementary School.

At the previous meetings, Farrelly highlighted the district’s vision through his theme, dubbed “Focused, Connected and Ready to Go Global.”

In the presentation, Farrelly essentially demonstrated how the school system has been “very strategic” with its course of action in an effort to ensure the vision is right.

“We have been studying global schools and dual immersion programs for over a year,” Farrelly said. “Our work continues to be focused on creating more rigorous and challenging learning opportunities for every student.”

At the meetings, Farrelly also summarized more than 25 years of research in outlining the key benefits of dual immersion programs and global education.

“The data shows significant trends of growth for students in all subgroups regardless of a student’s background and learning needs,” Farrelly said. “The dual language program is also parent-friendly. Homework is sent home in English. Parents do not have to speak a second language in order for their child to be successful. We will even provide parents with beginner Spanish classes for those who are interested.”

Farrelly used a map illustrating the locations of other global schools and dual immersion programs in the state to reinforce the point the district’s program will be unique to the state’s northeastern region.

“This is our opportunity to be innovative and to afford our students an opportunity that not many other students are receiving in our state,” Farrelly said.

The support of the district’s school board and the community has been great throughout the process, Farrelly said.

“We are getting a lot of positive feedback on the realignment of our schools in town. Parents are also very pleased that we have been able to reconfigure our schools without redistricting or having to close a school,” Farrelly said. “With our growing success over the next several years, I anticipate that all of our schools could grow.

“Closing a school is not an option.”

School officials said several more meetings centered on the global school initiative will be scheduled through March.