STEM expands

Published 11:28 am Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WINDSOR – Bertie High School will be getting additional support.

Late last week, the Bertie County Board of Education unanimously agreed to accept an offer from the North Carolina New Schools Project to provide Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) assistance to the school.

Dr. Debbie Harris-Rollins, Superintendent of Bertie County Schools, said the district received a call from the New Schools Project offering help at the high school. NCNSP is already working with two other schools in the county – Bertie STEM High School and Bertie Early College High School.

“We were contacted and asked if we were interested in receiving help through the STEM initiative for Bertie High School,” Dr. Harris-Rollins said. “They have offered to provide coaches for teachers of science and math and also for the principal at Bertie High.”

The board then heard from Dr. Dana Diesel Wallace of the New Schools Project about what was being offered.

“We have had the opportunity to work with schools from across the state,” Dr. Diesel Wallace said. “Bertie County is a place we looked to expand the STEM initiative because you have embraced the STEM High School so well. We’re looking for a place that is ready and we also believe Bertie High School can benefit from the information.”

Board of Education Chairwoman Gloria Lee asked what the initiative expansion would mean in costs to the school district.

Dr. Diesel Wallace said the only costs that would be paid by the district was travel and expenses for conferences attended by teachers and any substitute fees if teachers missed days for training.

Board member Emma Johnson asked how long the initiative would last and was told it would be initially three years.

“We are a public-private partnership,” Dr. Diesel Wallace said. “We know that the initiative would last at least three years because we have funding for that long. It could possibly be longer.”

Lee then asked how quickly the partnership would begin. She was told it would happen very quickly; almost as soon as the Memorandum of Understanding between the two entities was finished.

“We’re ready to go,” Dr. Diesel Wallace said.

School board member Rickey Freeman said he was pleased with what he heard.

“Thank you for presenting this opportunity to us,” Freeman said. “Anything that benefits students and teachers has my support.”

Dr. Harris-Rollins said she spoke to incoming Bertie High School Principal Carson Watford, who was in favor of being part of the program.

Because of the timeline, the school board gave preliminary approval through phone calls to each member, but still had to take a formal vote to approve having the initiative at Bertie High.

Freeman offered a motion to accept the agreement and allow the Memorandum of Understanding to be signed by Lee after it was reviewed by Dr. Harris-Rollins and Board Attorney Rod Malone.

The motion passed by a 3-0 vote with both Vice Chair Pamela Chamblee and board member Alton Parker absent from the meeting.