University City

4 schools gain local support

Two of University City's biggest employers have agreed to devote manpower, expertise, computers and other resources to bolster the four public schools at Governors Village.

The partnership with financial services company TIAA-CREF and UNC Charlotte will provide support for more than 4,700 students in elementary grades through high school.

The initiative also will provide programs for parents and faculty. To kick off the agreement, volunteers from both institutions visited the northeast Charlotte campus recently to dress up the grounds.

"Our students in the Governor's Village can benefit tremendously from this initiative," said Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools interim superintendent Hugh Hattabaugh.

The schools within the village are Nathaniel Alexander Elementary, James Martin Middle, Zebulon B. Vance High and John M. Morehead STEM Academy, a district-wide magnet school.

The campus opened in 1996, off IBM Drive near Interstate 85 and West W.T. Harris Blvd. The plan in the beginning was to build a campus of four schools anchored by Vance High and supported strongly by IBM.

CMS built the schools, but the plan's champion, Superintendent John Murphy, left, and the partnership withered.

In 2008, business and community leaders from the area met with residents to come up with ideas for strengthening the schools.

Some who attended the meeting said the schools suffered from lack of support and the absence of a single vision within CMS for what the village should be.

They suggested educators, businesses, government, churches and the public should work together to support the schools.

Members of the Charlotte Chamber and area business suggested that reviving the village schools could help bring higher-end residential developments and business to the University City area.

UNC Charlotte and TIAA-CREF, which has a campus near I-85 and West Mallard Creek Church Road, are working with CMS to identify specific needs at the schools.

Both institutions will provide mentors and tutors this school year.

UNC Charlotte faculty will provide training for TIAA-CREF volunteers on being effective mentors and tutors.

Other programs include a professional development conference in January for 500 or more teachers and faculty members and a job-shadowing event in February at TIAA-CREF for students in grades 8-12.

TIAA-CREF has donated approximately 500 personal computers to the Governor's Village schools.

The employee-supported Backpacks and Knapsacks School-Supply Drive will provide pencils, paper, backpacks and crayons for students.