The “House Select Committee on an Education System For NC’s Future” heard on Monday from school administrators across the state regarding special programs and academies focused on modern student discipline and reform strategies. Following a presentation on Tarheel ChalleNGE, a quasi-military style program for high school students that have dropped out of school, committee members heard from three NC district superintendents overseeing programs for at-risk students in Edgecombe County Public Schools, Mooresville Graded School District, and Stokes County Schools.
Dr. Valerie Bridges, Superintendent of Edgecombe County Public Schools (ECPS) and 2022 NC Superintendent of the Year, presented to the committee on the Honor Opportunity Purpose Excellence (HOPE) Alternative Learning Program, which helps students in Grades 6-12 who have been suspended from the traditional school setting. During the presentation, HOPE Coordinator, Mr. Quarry Williams, shared he had been able to bill student mental health services to Medicaid, allowing ECPS to create a sustained social worker position.
Committee members also heard from Dr. Jason Gardner, Superintendent of Mooresville Graded School District, regarding the “Meshing initiatives With Alternative Youth Education” or MIWAYE Program, which helps students who are struggling academically through various supports, such as school-based mental health therapy and smaller student to teacher ratios. As noted in the presentation, the program began in 1996 with 6 students and has grown to an enrollment of over 100 students each year.
Lastly, the Committee heard from Mr. Brad Rice, Superintendent of Stokes County Schools, on Meadowbrook Academy, which serves mostly students who are at risk of not graduating. Students may be referred to the Academy for numerous reasons, including but not limited to mental health needs, credit recovery needs, disciplinary placement, need for more personalized learning, or need for a higher level of supervision. Similar to the MIWAYE Program, Meadowbrook Academy began in the late 1990s with only a few students, and now serves dozens of high-risk students each year.
While the focus of Monday’s committee meeting may have been on student discipline and alternative programs, all presenters shared innovative approaches to student discipline and success by addressing the needs of the “whole child.” All presentations and related materials can be accessed by clicking here.