Edgecombe County Public Schools Superintendent John Farrelly announced his plans to open a “global school” next August at a special board of education meeting Monday evening.
“What we want to do is open a K-8 dual immersion, global school,” Farrelly said. “We’re going to give all 14 schools access to top-flight global curriculum.”
The plan is to transform C.B. Martin Middle School into “Martin Millennium Academy,” where students will receive a “global” education from teachers from all over the world while learning another language. In kindergarten, 90 percent of student instruction will be in Spanish, a concept known as “full immersion.”
“The research indicates that when you learn two languages at the same time at the age of 6, in every single (academic) subset, there is growth,” Farrelly said.
The district will partner with VIF International Education to open the global school, and VIF will bring in nine international instructors to teach at the new school. Farrelly said he hopes to have 200 students at Martin Millennium Academy next school year.
Farrelly’s proposal to transform Martin Middle School into a K-8 school means that W.A. Pattillo will become a middle school, for sixth through eighth grade, while Stocks Elementary will add fourth and fifth grade. He said all three of the schools have extra classroom space because of recent decreases in student enrollment.
Farrelly said Martin Millennium would be a “school of choice” in the district, but it would have open enrollment, so any child would have the option of attending.
“We want every student in this district, no matter what your last name is or what street you live on to have access to this program,” Farrelly said. “We’re going to provide kids with opportunities that they currently don’t have … “We want to bring the world to Edgecombe County.”
Two public schools in Cumberland County have met with tremendous success in their global/ dual immersion programs, Farrelly said, and several board members and administrators have taken trips to the schools to see their success firsthand.
“Every child in every classroom was at work and very excited about being at work,” said Board Chair Ann Kent, after her visit to the schools.
Farrelly said the community has voiced that it’s time for a change and the global schools initiative is about “doing the right things for kids.”
Board member Dr. Evelyn Johnson, agreed, offering her approval of the initiative.
“The timing is right. It’s the best of times for it, because I think we need something different,” she said.
“The beauty of it is that everybody’s learning … teachers, as well,” Johnson added.
Investment in teachers’ professional development is a component of the global schools program, said VIF manager Kevin Smith.
“It’s a learning process and it’s an education for every stakeholder in the district,” Smith said.
While the global schools plan is in place, Farrelly will bring a final proposal to the board at a later date and the board will vote on the proposal.