Jamarion Vaughn, left, and Angeles Arevalo, center, were in first-grade during 2010-11 in the Little Leaders program at Eastlawn Elementary.

Sam Roberts / Times-News

Jamarion Vaughn, left, and Angeles Arevalo, center, were in first-grade during 2010-11 in the Little Leaders program at Eastlawn Elementary.

Changes happening with all types of schools
The Times-News 7/28/11     
Reprinted with permission.

 Education in Alamance County is a lot more varied than it once was, both within and outside of the traditional public schools.

 More than 22,000 will attend a school in the Alamance-Burlington School System during 2011-12.

 Among recent or upcoming trends in the local system:

  • The number of year-round schools has grown during the last several years from one – North Graham Elementary – to five, with the addition of Eastlawn Elementary, Haw River Elementary, South Graham Elementary and Graham Middle School to that schedule.
  • The Little Leaders program, in which a small group of students at Andrews, Newlin, Haw River and Eastlawn elementary schools will remain with the same teacher from kindergarten through third grade and have additional learning and outside-the-classroom opportunities. The goal is to create success academically and otherwise.
  • A Spanish immersion program at Elon, Smith and South Graham elementary schools in which students are taught and speak in both English and Spanish.
  • The opening during the 2011-12 school year of the system’s career and technical education center. The center will add offerings not currently available to students as well as make existing offerings more accessible to students in different schools. It is meant to be a mainstay of the system’s efforts to emphasize the use of technology and give students skills that will lead to job.
  • The potential opening in 2012-13 of an early college together with Elon University. That program is seen as a way to better serve academically gifted students looking for more rigorous classes and to identify students with “untapped” potential. Students would graduate having earned as much as two years of college credit.
  • The 2011-12 school year will open with Superintendent Lillie Cox new in the job. Cox started July 1 after leading the Hickory Public Schools. From 2006-09, she was assistant superintendent for curriculum/instruction in the Alamance-Burlington system.
  • With the start of July, Graham Middle School teacher Tyronna Hooker began her year as North Carolina Teacher of the Year. Fellow teachers, her students and others will no doubt be watching to see if she becomes national Teacher of the Year.

 Charter schools: About 1,200 students attended charter schools in Alamance County in 2010-11.

 The county has three charter schools – Clover Garden School in northern Alamance County, River Mill Academy in Graham and The Hawbridge School in Saxapahaw. The schools are public, so students pay no tuition to go there. The schools have more flexibility than traditional public schools in how students are educated.

 Clover Garden and River Mill educate students in elementary, middle and high school grades. The Hawbridge School began as a high school and recently expanded to serve middle school students.

 Additional charter schools are expected in North Carolina after this year’s change in state law that had limited the number of schools to 100.

 Independent schools: The number of private schools in Alamance County expanded four years ago with the addition of The Elon School, a small college-preparatory high school. Other changes in recent years include the addition of high school grades at Burlington Christian Academy in addition to elementary and middle school grades there

 Other private schools in Alamance County include Alamance Christian School, which educates students in elementary, middle and high school grades, Blessed Sacrament School, a Catholic affiliated school that provides elementary and middle school education, and Burlington Day School, an independent school that educates students in the elementary and middle school grades.

 The county also has smaller private schools registered with the state, which says more than 1,300 students attended an independent school in Alamance County during 2010-11.

 Home schools: Nowhere in local education has growth been more explosive during the last two decades that in home-schooling.

 A little more than 20 years ago, fewer than three dozen students in the county were home-schooled.

 During 2009-10 – the most recent year for which statistics are available from the state’s Division of Non-Public Education, 652 home schools operated in Alamance County, with an estimated 1,286 students learning at home. Statewide, there were 43,316 home schools with 81,509 students enrolled.

 Roughly two-thirds, or 65.6 percent, of the schools were considered religious, with 34.4 percent considered non-religious.