Doing School Better

Innovation ECPS News: Summer 2018

By the time they are 25 ...

For the past two years, the ECPS Blue Ribbon Commission on Educational Equity has been asking the question, "What do we want to be true for our ECPS graduates by the time they are 25 years old?" Hundreds of people have weighed in -- students, alumni, parents, pastors, business and non-profit leaders, health-care workers, teachers. They've identified five key "graduate aims" that will provide inspiration and direction for the school system in the years to come:

  1. Graduates will know their purpose and passion, and be living this out
  2. Graduates will possess global awareness and agency
  3. Graduates will be making positive contributions to their community
  4. Graduates will create or seize opportunities to return to - or stay - in Edgecombe County
  5. Graduates will be resilient in the face of challenges

As you peruse this update, you'll read about ways were are already driving towards these aims, and ways that we'll be "doing school differently" in the future to ensure that this vision becomes a reality. We welcome your feedback, both on the aims themselves and how we can design incredible learning experiences for our students and graduates. Thank you for supporting Edgecombe County Public Schools!

Opportunity Culture Grows - Join the Team!

Opportunity Culture has expanded to the Tarboro / Princeville area! After a successful first year in the Innovation Zone, we are seeking out teacher-leaders who want to make a lasting impact in a rural community, expand their influence, and make up to 20% more money. Our forward-thinking principals are looking for Multi-Classroom Leaders (MCLs), Expanded Impact Teachers (EITs), and Reach Associates (RAs) who can lead students and adults to achieve extraordinary results in the areas of elementary English Language Arts (ELA), middle grades ELA, middle grades math/science, and high school science. If you want to learn more, or know someone who should, visit our Opportunity Culture website. If you're not quite ready to take on an Opportunity Culture position, but you want to grow your skills with the support of a highly effective coach, contact Erin Swanson, ECPS Director of Innovation, at Join us to Reach More, Achieve More, and Earn More in an Opportunity Culture!

Full S.T.E.A.M. Ahead

Big picture
It's an exciting time in Edgecombe County. Hundreds of new engineering and advanced manufacturing jobs are coming to our region, thanks to companies like Triangle Tire and Corning. Small businesses and social ventures are breathing new life into towns like Tarboro and Pinetops. At the same time, researchers predict that millions of jobs across the state will be lost to automation within the next twenty years. The future of our community depends on students (like the joyful Phillips Middle School scholars pictured above!) developing not only the skills to lead us into the future, but the passion and commitment to do it right here. With the leadership of ECPS Technology Director Matthew Mayo and our school-based administrators, we are committed to providing more and more learning opportunities in STEAM - Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics - and rooting them in Edgecombe County. Here are a just a few:

  • Cummins Rocky Mount Engine Plant LEGO Engine Replica Build: Students from middle schools throughout Edgecombe and Nash Counties joined forces to build a replica of a QSK95 diesel engine with over 30,000 LEGOs and the support of local Cummins engineers. The annual event is designed to expose students to STEM job opportunities in our area, in the hopes that they will one day consider making their home and career in Edgecombe County. The scholars from Phillips Middle School (pictured above), loved visiting the plant and returned to school reinvigorated and full of joy!
  • Middle School STEM Challenge: This year, our middle schools participated in a new competition: STEM Design Challenge. All five middle schools had two teams of six students that worked together over the course of several months to read and discuss STEM-related texts. The students then planned, designed, and built a structure out of K’Nex that could be found at an amusement park. The structure had to involve at least one motor, and have at least one moving part. The teams not only built their structure, but they drew a blueprint to scale and answered interview questions from engineers that came from Cummins, LS Cable, and Keihin. We look forward to growing and expanding this inspiring and engaging competition in the upcoming years.
  • Future Scientists Academy at Martin Millennium Academy: Martin Millennium Academy (MMA) has developed a Future Scientists Academy to excite and teach scholars about STEM-related careers, especially since the population served by the school is inequitably underrepresented in STEM fields. Funded by a three year, $135,402 grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, the MMA Future Scientists Academy consists of a summer week-long STEM Camp for scholars, followed by year-long, scholar-selected tracks specific to the field of study that interests them most. The main topics covered are genetics, robotics, coding, astronomy, and medicine. The program uniquely involves scholars in cross-curricular content, covering science, math, CTE, and literacy. Through small-group learning experiences and intentional recruitment, scholars from underrepresented populations receive STEM mentorship throughout STEM Camp and the year-long programming. By the end of the three year program, 230 scholars at MMA will have engaged in at least 50 contact hours increasing scientific content knowledge and inquiry skills. The goal is for scholars to have have changed mindsets about STEM fields and heightened interest in STEM careers.

  • NCTIES Conference: NCTIES (North Carolina Technology in Education Society) hosts an annual conference where administrators, teachers, students, and technology vendors all come to present and learn more about technology integration within the classroom. This year, Edgecombe County Public Schools not only had staff attend the conference to expand their technology knowledge, but students and staff also presented to other districts and took part in the "Student Showcase."

  • AMPLIFY ECPS Day: For the second year in a row, ECPS has held Amplify ECPS Day, a day of fun, learning, and collaboration with a focus on innovative educational practices -- many involving STEAM. This year was even larger than last, with 600 participants facilitating and attending over 50 sessions. Also new this year was the vendor fair, where teachers and principals met with educational vendors from all over the state. Staff left the keynote from Abby Futrell excited, amplified, and ready for the day. We are excited to provide this opportunity for our staff, and hope to make next year even more successful for our district.

  • Princeville STEAM Focus: As part of the effort to "build back better" from Hurricane Matthew and the subsequent floods, Princeville Elementary School will adopt a STEAM focus beginning in the 2018-2019 school year.

"Transcending" Expectations in the I-Zone

Transcend took a chance on Edgecombe County this year. This national non-profit "enables visionary learning communities to build and spread breakthrough models that prepare children to thrive in and transform the 21st century." Most of these visionaries have been in larger, urban centers ... until now.

A team from Edgecombe County Public Schools convened during the 2017-18 school year to reimagine learning in the Innovation Zone, starting with North Edgecombe High School and Phillips Middle School. This team -- which has grown to include students, parents, educators, business and faith-based leaders, and other advocates -- started by interviewing students about their dreams, successes, and challenges. The insights gathered from the students, along with inspiration gained from visits to innovative schools across the country and knowledge about how people learn, has resulted in a new school design -- the "North/Phillips School of Innovation." During the 2018-2019 school year, ECPS will pilot the design at a "micro school," consisting of 8th and 9th graders who will test the new model and provide feedback throughout the year. These scholars will not take the typical four core classes and an elective. Instead, they will engage in daily project-based learning that is tailored to their individual needs and interests, and receive personalized mentorship to develop the life skills that will help them be successful in whatever path they choose. Please check back for updates on the North/Phillips School of Innovation, and to learn more about our plans to help our young scholars at Coker-Wimberly Elementary School gain the skills and dispositions necessary for success in this new model and in life!

Innovation Across the District

Innovation isn't just limited to the I-Zone! Educators, students, families, and communities are coming together at all 14 schools and working hard to find creative solutions to some of our toughest challenges -- all in the name of providing every student with an excellent education and achieving our graduate aims. As part of the Blue Ribbon Commission on Educational Equity work, stakeholders from around the county have visited our schools to learn more about these initiatives, many of which have been highlighted in the local media. Here are just a few:

  • Outdoor Learning Environments at G.W. Bulluck Elementary: Click here to read the Rocky Mount Telegram article about how the Outdoor Learning Environments at G.W. Bulluck are benefiting the whole child.
  • JROTC Flight Training at SouthWest Edgecombe High School: SouthWest students have the opportunity to learn how to fly planes and drones - and their teacher is one of their peers! Pictured below you will see Sophomore (and flight instructor!) Alec Powell and Representative Shelly Willingham during a recent Blue Ribbon Commission school visit.
  • Community Bus Rides at North Edgecombe High School: Staff at North Edgecombe regularly ride buses home with students, getting off at each stop to talk with families about everything from upcoming events to their hopes and dreams for their children. Click here to read the EdNC article that highlights this work!
  • Scholar Teachers at Edgecombe Early College High School: The first group of Scholar Teachers - a diverse group juniors and seniors who are preparing for careers in education - shared their stories at a recent Community Breakfast hosted by Superintendent Valerie Bridges. Dr. Bridges asked attendees to consider donating to a college scholarship fund for the Scholar Teachers, so that they can return to Edgecombe County and teach after graduation. The Barnhill Family Foundation has generously donated $90,000 to jump-start this effort. We are thrilled about the impact that these future teachers will have in their hometown!

About Innovation ECPS

Problem solvers. Creative thinkers. Entrepreneurs. World Changers.

Our mission at Innovation ECPS is to create the conditions for our students to become transformational leaders - now and in the future. We seek out cutting-edge solutions to our greatest challenges, pilot promising ideas, and scale strategies that work. Click "Follow" and subscribe to this newsletter to learn more!