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Lee Early College Hosts Regional Early College Meeting

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12.05.2011Lee Early College

SANFORD -Lee Early College hosted other early colleges from around the region at the North Carolina New Schools Project Regional Action Planning Session, held Nov. 29 at Central Carolina Community College's Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center.

The Session provided an opportunity for principals to engage in high quality professional development with NCNSP staff, leadership coaches, instructional coaches, and teachers. Participants worked in small groups to address the various concerns of each school.

NCNSP Program Director Demond "De" McKenzie called the Session an "opportunity for schools to come together to assess where they are in terms of their School Improvement Plan." He noted that it also provided a place where principals, teachers and NCNSP staff could network and receive feedback.

The School Improvement Plan, required by North Carolina's Department of Public Instruction, provides a mechanism for identifying the needs of a school and establishing a common approach for school-wide implementation of goals. The Regional Action Planning Session helped principals and teachers find ways to meet these yearly goals.

McKenzie noted that one of the best parts of the sessions was hearing principals and teachers say, "I really hadn't thought of that." Because of these sessions, early college faculty are able to take new or alternative approaches back to their staff to create more effective environments for learning and success.

During one session, early colleges from Wake, Durham and Lee counties discussed how to effectively create and maintain a 30-minute advisory (or homeroom) class period. Barb Chapman, LEC's instructional coach, noted that the structured nature of the advisory class period at LEC creates a positive environment for students to receive valuable instruction on colleges and careers.

While all schools want to ensure student success, LEC Principal Robert Biehl said he wants to focus particularly on helping students transition smoothly from high school to college classes. One way LEC helps students do this is by having them take high school and college classes simultaneously. Classes such as high school biology are paired with the college level "Principles of Biology" and high school civics and economics with the college level "American Government."

Biehl added that LEC embraces the NCNSP goal to "promote a vision that every high school in North Carolina will graduate every student ready for college, career and life in the 21st century."

Lee Early College, a collaboration of Lee County Schools and Central Carolina Community College, opened in 2006. The school, located at the college's Lee County Campus, offers students the opportunity to earn both a high school diploma and an associate degree within five years at no cost.

NCNSP is a statewide public-private partnership that sparks and supports innovation in secondary schools. It was created in 2003 by the Office of the Governor and the NC Education Cabinet, with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, NCNSP works with school districts and educators to create innovative high schools all over North Carolina, including Lee Early College.

For more information on Lee Early College, visit For more information on NCNSP, visit