The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

Local News

December 4, 2013

Global schools meeting sparsely attended.

TARBORO — Edgecombe County Public Schools (ECPS) held a community meeting Monday evening in Edgecombe Community College’s Keihin Auditorium to discuss the district’s “global schools” initiative.

The meeting was the first of several scheduled to provide information on Superintendent John Farrelly’s proposal to transform C.B. Martin Middle School into “Martin Millennium Academy,” a K-8 school. Farrelly announced his plans for next school year’s opening of the academy, which will combine a dual immersion Spanish language program with a global theme, at a Nov. 25 board of education meeting.

Just a small number of parents and school administrators showed up Monday, but Farrelly said even if only one parent had attended, it would’ve been worth having the meeting.

“This initiative more than anything else is about this — providing kids with an opportunity that they don’t currently have,” Farrelly said, as he looked out into the audience. He told the parents the education at Martin Millennium Academy would be  “a significant change in how we’re delivering instruction in our school system.”

ECPS is partnering with VIF International Education to provide that global curriculum, and bring in international teachers to deliver instruction. VIF has 33 dual immersion programs in North Carolina.

“As you can see, there are currently none in northeastern North Carolina,” Farrelly said, pointing to a map of the programs. “There’ll be one in August.”

All parents of children in kindergarten through eighth grade will have the option of enrolling their children at the school.

“What we want to do the first of January is open up a registration process,” Farrelly said.

Shawn Dawes, school counselor at Edgecombe Early College High School, is considering enrolling her son, Blaine, at Martin Millennium Academy. He will begin kindergarten next year.

“I’m very excited about it, particularly the full immersion and the second language,” Dawes said.

She said she also believes offering children a “worldview” rather than a localized view is educationally beneficial.

“It teaches children that there’s something outside Edgecombe County,” she said.

Jamie Hathaway, an English teacher at the Early College, said she has four children who attend school outside ECPS, and she would like to bring them back into the district. At the meeting, she asked Farrelly about the possibility of enrolling a first-grade student in the dual immersion program, because she wants her son John Michael Pollard, now in kindergarten, to learn a second language. Farrelly replied that research on dual immersion indicates the need to start the program in kindergarten, rather than in a later grade. She also asked Farrelly about the possibility of global travel and field trips at Martin Millennium Academy. Farrelly said the global schools initiative could lead to long-distance learning opportunities through technology, such as Skype, but travel to other countries is not an option at this time.

Hathaway said she hopes the global school will make Edgecombe County students more “competitive” and ultimately make them aware of changes that need to made in the world and give them confidence to make them.

“Maybe this will be an opportunity to show kids that they can be whomever they want to be…” Hathaway said. “It makes you a global thinker, too, a big idea kind of person.”

The next “global schools” community meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. today at North Edgecombe High School. Other meetings are scheduled for Dec. 17 at Martin Middle School, Jan. 7 at Carver Elementary and Jan. 14 at Coker-Wimberly Elementary. All meetings will be held at 6:30 p.m.


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