North East Carolina Preparatory School will teach and inspire through a challenging curriculum that integrates technology, experiential learning and critical thinking skills, promotes diversity, emphasizes involvement of students, parents and a highly trained staff and create student leaders, all in preparation for post-secondary success.
“To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield.”
After extensive fast-track construction that began in the early spring of 2013 on the 52-acre campus, North East Carolina Preparatory School opened the school year on August 5 with a new middle school building ready to accommodate the public charter school’s growing student population. The 2-story building will house students in grades 5 – 9. “The construction crews did an amazing job on these beautiful state-of-the-art facilities,” said NECP Executive Director John D. Westberg. “This building and the renovations to the existing buildings have been designed to inspire learning and that is very appropriate for our educational philosophy.”
In addition to more than 30 classrooms, the new 51,000 square foot building includes 2 science labs, 2 computer labs, a nurses’ office, and a library dedicated to the middle school collection. The building has a spacious gymnasium with a stage area, a weight room, and locker rooms for the physical education program and athletic teams. The building features a controlled entrance and is equipped with a carefully planned security system.
North East Carolina Prep opened in August 2012 as the newest public charter school in Eastern North Carolina. Charter schools are authorized public schools open to all students, regardless of where they live. They are designed “to provide opportunities for teachers, parents, pupils, and community members to establish and maintain schools that operate independently of existing schools.” Charter schools are tuition-free, but students must apply to attend. Enrollment is limited and admission is determined by a lottery system.
Initially housed in temporary facilities provided by St. Stephen’s Missionary Baptist Church, NECP acquired and renovated the former Mary Frances Center on Howard Avenue as its permanent home. During the first year, the school served 400 students in kindergarten through grade 8. When classes resumed on August 5, the school had enrolled more than 900 students by adding 500 students and expanding the grade configuration to include grade 9.
Upon completion of a 3-year construction plan, this innovative school will add a high school building and have the capacity to accommodate 2,200 public school K-12 students. By adding a grade to the high school each year, the first senior class will graduate in 2017. As the student body increased, so has the number of faculty and staff needed to deliver the high quality instructional program in small class sizes of approximately 20 students each. NECP employs about 100 teachers and support personnel. The diverse corps of veteran and new faculty includes local teachers, but also, many from states and 4 foreign countries.
North East Carolina Prep teachers reported to work on July 1 for a full month of professional development and training prior to the August 5 return of students. “The intensity of this advance training for our staff separates us from most other schools in the nation,” said Westberg. “We know this benefits our instructional strategy by giving our teachers the tools they need to effectively manage their classrooms. And, it sets the stage for our positive discipline approach that emphasizes win-win opportunities for everyone.”
The entire school is focused on the philosophy of Harvard professor Dr. Howard Gardner, who recognized that individuals exhibit intelligence in multiple ways and learn best through teaching and learning techniques that tap into those areas. Utilizing Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence theory, NECP educators deliver the Core Knowledge curriculum aligned with the NC Common Core Standards and college and career readiness measures.
All NECP teachers have been trained and are expected to use Kagan Structures to emphasize active and equitable student engagement in their classrooms. Developed by Dr. Spencer Kagan, these classroom management and teaching techniques have been proven to consistently produce dramatic academic and social gains in individual students.
Already known as an innovative school, NECP has forged an international relationship with China. In a unique partnership with the Global Classroom Alliance through a program dubbed ‘China Connection,’ the school is hosting 7 exchange students from Beijing this fall. Future plans include additional exchanges for Chinese students and for teachers, who will come to teach the Chinese language. The school is developing opportunities for NECP teachers and students to travel to China.
“We have been very pleased with the response of the regional community to the new educational opportunities at North East Carolina Prep,” said Westberg. “We have more than 130 children on the current waiting list for admission. Unfortunately, our enrollment is limited by our charter with the State and the capacity of our facilities.” The 2014-15 school year application process will begin on October 1, 2013. For more information about North East Carolina Preparatory School call 252-641-0464 to arrange a visit.