Education

UNCC takes teacher training to a new level: Opening its own elementary school

UNC Charlotte’s Cato College of Education trains the teachers, principals and counselors of the future. In August, UNCC will extend its reach by opening its own public elementary school, Niner University Elementary.
UNC Charlotte’s Cato College of Education trains the teachers, principals and counselors of the future. In August, UNCC will extend its reach by opening its own public elementary school, Niner University Elementary. dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

UNC Charlotte’s Cato College of Education trains the teachers, principals and counselors of the future. In August, UNCC will extend its reach by opening its own public elementary school.

Niner University Elementary will become North Carolina’s sixth “lab school,” and the first in Charlotte, under a 2016 legislative initiative aimed at teaming UNC system universities with students at low-performing public schools.

The new school will be located in a renovated wing of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ James Martin Middle School just east of the university. CMS will provide transportation and food service, but Niner University will be supported and operated by UNCC as a non-traditional public school.

It will open in August to 150 CMS students entering kindergarten through second grade, then add higher grades through 2023. Enrollment will be granted on a first-come basis. At capacity, it can serve 300 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Parents can learn more about the school at a 6 p.m. meeting Thursday at the McCrory YMCA.

More than a dozen Cato College of Education faculty and staff members helped develop the school’s curriculum, which will focus on literacy and creative classroom approaches. It’s also designed to nurture development of social skills such as self-awareness and responsible decision-making, and to provide social and emotional support for students and teachers.

“We are welcoming all students, both those who have struggled and those who are soaring,” said Principal Pamela Broome, a 28-year educator. “We want to provide opportunities for them to grow in different ways. Our focus is to be truly student-centered — more than academic growth but nurturing all aspects of the child.”

The new elementary school will also help train teachers, with UNCC students in education able to spend their junior years in internships, and provide research opportunities for faculty members. Staff from other UNCC departments, from nursing to social work, will also be involved.

Lab schools are already operating at East Carolina University, Western Carolina University, Appalachian State University, UNC Greensboro and UNC Wilmington.

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