Creating innovative schools means thinking outside the lines — sometimes literally beyond the boundaries of school districts and counties. NC New Schools works with clusters of school districts to develop regional schools, some of which were authorized by legislation adopted in 2011 by the NC General Assembly. These schools are aligned with the workforce and economic development needs of the area and also engage higher education and private sector partners.
The benefits of these regional schools go beyond the students enrolled on the campus. By developing new regional models of professional development and resource sharing with cooperating school districts, regional schools also help spark innovation in each of the individual districts.
The Northeast Regional School of Biotechnology and Agriscience, which opened in August 2011 is the state’s first model regional school created under the 2011 legislation. Serving students from Washington, Tyrrell, Pitt, Martin and Beaufort counties, the school is a joint endeavor of NC State University’s College of Agriculture, the State Board of Education, Beaufort Community College, the five northeastern rural school districts, and NC New Schools and also enjoys strong support from the NC Department of Agriculture and the JOBS Commission.
Teachers integrate STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education concepts across all content areas as they create new learning environments aimed at giving all students — especially first-generation college-going students — opportunities for success. At the school, which will ultimately enroll up to 500 students in grades 9-12, students will be able to earn up to two years of transferrable college credit along with their high school diploma.
Other partner schools across the state have created their own regional partnerships to connect students with opportunities:
- Davidson Early College High School and Yadkin Valley Regional Career Academy (Valley Academy) serve students from both Davidson County Schools, Thomasville City Schools and Lexington City Schools.
- Mayland Early College serves students from Avery, Mitchell and Yancey counties.
- Roanoke Valley Early College serves students from Halifax and Northampton counties, as well as Weldon City Schools and Roanoke Rapids Graded School District.
- Tri-County Early College serves students from Cherokee, Clay and Graham counties.