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Grant funds learning initiative

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Pittsboro, NC — Chatham County Schools has receivedrn a $45,000 planning grant for the establishment of a middlern college program in conjunction with Central Carolina Communityrn College (CCCC) at its Chatham County Campus in Pittsboro.

rn The grant is part of the state’s Learn to Earn initiative,rn which seeks to lower high school dropout rates by developingrn middle college programs for academically gifted and/orrn disenfranchised students not thriving in traditional highrn school environments.  

rn“We believe this program is a win-win situation for students,” saidrnCCCCrnChatham Campus Provost Dr. Karen Allen.  “The program will not onlyrnhelp lower the county’s dropout rate, but it will also help students whornneed a different learning environment to maximize their success in school.” 

rnThe grant provides both CCCC and Chatham County Schools with a coach to helprnplan all aspects of the program including everything from curriculum to studentrntransportation to class scheduling.  Leaders of both organizations hopernto open the program in the fall of 2005.

rnUnder the middle college concept, rising juniors and seniors who meet certainrnqualifications could transfer to the middle college program and attend classrnfulltime at CCCC.  These students would take four classes each semesterrnwith two being taught by Chatham County School teachers and two by college faculty.  Studentsrnwould take college courses in the mornings or evenings with other CCCC studentsrnand high school classes in the afternoons.

rnMiddle college students could take classes in any of the curriculum programsrnoffered at the Chatham County Campus including office systems technology, sustainablernagriculture, university transfer and medical assisting.  There would bernno change in the required number of credits for high school graduation. Studentsrnwould graduate from the middle college program with a high school diploma andrna year’s work toward an associate degree.  Enrollment would be limitedrnto a maximum of 100 students since the program features smaller class sizes.

rnThe program will target students who are able to complete college level workrnbut do not fit into the high school environment.  Students with a historyrnof disciplinary problems would not be admitted.

rn“This program is designed to reach out to students who have potential butrnare not thriving, not happy in their high schools and are possibly on the vergernofrndropping out.  The middle college program gives them an opportunity to reachrntheir potential.”

rnThe middle college program, also called the early college program, has a historyrnof success in other North Carolina counties. Each program varies slightly dependingrnon the needs of the community. 

rnGuilford Technical Community College in Greensboro has hosted a program for severalrnyears that features honor level courses.  Similarly, the program at BennettrnCollege, also in Greensboro, targets teenage mothers.

rnThe Earn to Learn initiative is funded in part by the New Schools Project, arnnon-profit group established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with thernremainder being funded by the state.  The North Carolina Education Cabinet,rnconvened by Governor Mike Easley provides oversight for the middle college program.