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New model for educational research and innovation


Michael Abramowitz

Friday, February 17, 2017

A new type of public school to be operated by East Carolina University will open in next school year utilizing several classrooms at South Greenville Elementary, the college of education dean told a Board of Trustees committee on Thursday.

The ECU lab school is one of eight mandated the state by the General Assembly in its budget last summer. College of Education Dean B. Grant Hayes told trustees that the program is a partnership with Pitt County Schools to bring ECU expertise to bear on the counties lowest performing elementary students.

The school will occupy six classrooms at South Greenville Elementary, Hayes said. By law, enrollment in the school is open to any district student who is considered Level I or II in academic standing. State per-pupil funding will go with the students to fund the operation.

ECU faculty, pre-service teachers, and other support staff will be available to provide students with more individualized instruction and support, presenter Laura Bilbro-Berry, director of partnerships and enrollment management in the Office of Educator Preparation, said.

The school will focus on advancing innovative learning and teaching methods for math and reading literacy. Bilbro-Berry said the methods address the development of the “whole child,” providing an extended day and year for additional time for learning and development, leveraging university and community resources and expertise to foster student achievement and development, .

During year one in the school model, ECU will establish a single classroom per grade at second-, third- and fourth-grades. In year two,  ECU will add one single classroom per grade at pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first and second grades, she said.

The laboratory partnership will connect the public schools with resources and staff from several ECU colleges and schools, including Allied Health Sciences, Fine Arts and Communication, Arts and Sciences, Health and Human Performance, Dental Medicine, Medicine and Nursing.

In 2016, legislation was passed by the state for the development of a laboratory school at each of eight state universities, including ECU. Its purpose is to provide students with additional resources, innovative learning opportunities, and expanded services to boost their academic achievement.

The new laboratory school will not be ECU’s first such innovation. In 1914, East Carolina Teacher Training School opened a laboratory school in collaboration with Greenville Graded Schools, now a part of Pitt County Schools.

According to information in the new program’s flyer, the original model school was designed to provide an opportunity for school-age students to be exposed to innovative teaching methods from university faculty and teachers in training. The model school was renamed Wahl-Coates Laboratory School in honor of two educators who had served the school for 30 years.

The school expanded and moved to several sites to include the site where Wahl-Coates Elementary is currently located. With the expansion of East Carolina University, the laboratory school was disbanded and Wahl-Coates Elementary was absorbed into the local school system.

Faculty may submit proposals for teaching, research, and service engagement with the lab school at http://bit.ly/2i9bwel. For more information about the East Carolina University Laboratory School, visit www.ecu.edu/cs-educ/labschool or contact Mark L’Esperance, project leader and chair of the Department of Elementary and Middle Grades Education at esperancem@ecu.edu; Laura Bilbro-Berry, director of partnerships and enrollment management in the Office of Educator Preparation at bilbroberryl@ecu.edu; and Elizabeth Hodge, assistant dean of innovations and strategic initiatives at hodgee@ecu.edu.

Contact Michael Abramowitz at mabramowitz@reflector.com and 329-9507.