LC Early College High School, where the future is now

 

It’s a forward-looking time of year. New grads are boiling out of colleges and soon will be boiling out of high schools – all of them focused on what comes next.
Graduates of Lenoir County Early College High School in Kinston, who fittingly kicked off the tassel-turning season for LCPS, had the same expansive, uninterrupted view of the future from the commencement stage Monday night; and, as a school and as a program these graduates spent four or five years navigating, LC Early College High School provides a glimpse of what should be the future for all LCPS students.
At the heart of the seven goals guiding LCPS’s improvement effort (http://www.lenoir.k12.nc.us) is the concept of accelerated learning. Goal 2 states it specifically: “LCPS students will all have the opportunity to complete two years of college work while in high school.” The other goals incorporate this idea of getting more out of public school – whether achieving reading proficiency by the second grade or beginning higher math courses in middle school – in the service of seniors who, in this day and age, need to leave high school prepared and with a plan, either for joining the workforce or military or continuing their education.
Once again this year at Early College, the 25 seniors and “super seniors” in the Class of 2014 proved the value of that approach. All have plans. All earned college credits in high school and some earned associates degrees from Lenoir Community College (where Early College is based) in the four or five years since they left the eighth grade. Seventeen members of the class will take those credits with them to four-year universities in the fall.
The value of Early College for them was getting a head start and getting it for free.
That is the value all students should find in LCPS – and will find as the school system’s goals become realities.
The School System Improvement Task Force – that group of more than 60 volunteers representing a range of occupations and interests in Lenoir County – is now developing strategies for achieving those goals. In many cases, the challenge for them is making available systemwide the programs that have already proved successful in small pockets of excellence throughout LCPS.
Early College is a prime example. So is the 1-to-1 technology instruction going on now in classes scattered throughout the system. They are models for the three-year technology initiative beginning this fall, when all elementary students will receive iPads and teachers, after a summer of professional development in technology-based instruction, will make those devices a key tool for learning.
Nothing embodied in LCPS’s improvement goals is experimental. That ground has been broken either here or elsewhere with good results. Certainly, innovative thinking will be required to scale up those initiatives or adapt them, but the concepts are sound and, as 25 seniors has shown, suited for Lenoir County.