Teachers Valerie Davis, left, and Jessica Huennekens participate in a teacher training session July 22 at North East Carolina Preparatory School in Tarboro.

Telegram file photo / Alan Campbell

Teachers Valerie Davis, left, and Jessica Huennekens participate in a teacher training session July 22 at North East Carolina Preparatory School in Tarboro.

North East Prep teachers prepare for start of school year

By John Carson

Staff Writer

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As physical work continues to add 15 classrooms to the campus at North East Carolina Prep, work on filling those rooms with the right instructors was winding down.

With NECP set to begin its 2014-15 school year Aug. 4, its teachers have spent the month of July in training sessions preparing for the third year of Edgecombe County’s only charter school.

The addition of classrooms is merited by a jump in student body from 900 in 2013-14 to 1,360 for the upcoming year.

Among the 95 teachers taking part in training throughout July are 35 new instructors to the school.

“The training is modeled after what is expected in the classroom,” NECP Director of Communications Diane LeFiles said. “They all become versed in the Howard Gardner process of multiple intelligences that we use and how that applies to the classroom.

“It is a very interactive form of training that prepares and equips our teachers with the things they need to know.”

After starting as a K-8 school two years, NECP has added a class level each year on the way to becoming a full K-12 institution.

While almost 85 percent of its students come from Edgecombe County, LeFiles said the school continues to expand its reach with students for 2014-15 also hailing from Nash, Halifax, Pitt, Beaufort and Martin counties.

Building expansions will add three kindergarten classrooms, as well as a new elementary wing of 12 classrooms that will house fourth and fifth grades.

However, LeFiles said the biggest increase in students this year will be seen in sixth and seventh grades.

Thus, the NECP faculty will increase by more than one-third for the upcoming.

However, despite news that teachers are becoming increasingly hard to find, LeFiles said that is not a problem for NECP.

“Teachers like the approach we take to education,” LeFiles said. “They like the individualized and cooperative learning concepts we use, and they particularly like the de-emphasis on testing.”

For John Westberg, the school’s executive director, the hiring process is squarely in his court.

He does the interviewing of prospective instructors and readily admits it a favorite activity.

“One the aspect of this job I like the most is recruiting teachers,” Westberg said. “It keeps me young because most of the applicants are young.

“I really enjoy talking about educational philosophy with them.”

The interview process at the school, Westberg said, is something that is “not just a 20-minute interview, and they’re gone.”

In fact, a NECP teaching interview lasts most of the day with applicants spending time in classrooms, interacting with teachers and students and observing how the school’s educational process is put into practice.

The virtual “lab experience” that is a NECP interview highlights the school’s greatest enticement to teachers – its teaching process.

“They are impressed with what we do and the learning that takes place,” Westberg said. “They also see and really like the input staff has in all aspects of the school and the support staff receives.

“They want and like the freedom to teach – not just teach to tests. We’ve developed a family atmosphere they like, and that has developed into an atmosphere of professional success.”