University City

Governor's Village gets special delivery

Santa travels fast, but employees from financial services company TIAA-CREF showed they can also cover a fair amount of territory when gifts are involved.

Twelve staffers visited the four public schools in Governor's Village - in less than an hour - to drop off 200 refurbished laptop computers.

The effort was part of TIAA-CREF's commitment to give students access to technology and information.

The first delivery was at John M. Morehead STEM Academy, a kindergarten-through-seventh-grade technology school.

The volunteers saw smiles and excitement as they stopped long enough to help one class power up a few of their school's 50 donated machines.

The delivery truck and team of helpers quickly moved on to Nathaniel Alexander Elementary, Vance High School and James Martin Middle School.

The schools had no idea the gifts would arrive in December.

"It's like an early Christmas for us," said Bobbie Bigelow, Morehead's assistant principal.

"This is a huge impact on our instruction.

"Teachers are able to tie in 21st-century learning."

The computers are part of a much larger effort to support the more than 4,700 students and 500 faculty members at Governor's Village.

TIAA-CREF and UNC Charlotte announced in August that they would work together to give educational support to the schools.

The pledge also includes volunteers for mentoring and tutoring and donations of school supplies.

The company will host a professional development conference Jan. 23 for teachers and faculty.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will work with its partners to develop the agenda.

The campus opened in 1996, off IBM Drive near Interstate 85 and City Boulevard.

In the beginning, the plan was to build a campus of four schools, anchored by Vance High and supported strongly by IBM.

CMS built the schools, but the plan withered when its champion, former Superintendent John Murphy, left the district.

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 local business suggested 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 Interstate 85 and West Mallard Creek Church Road, are working with CMS to identify specific needs at the schools.