15 CMS schools launch ‘personalized learning’ effort

Among several changes slated for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools this year, 15 schools are set to take part in a “personalized learning” initiative that aims to let students tackle work at their own pace instead of the traditional model of a teacher leading a classroom all at once.

“Students set their own course,” Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools chief performance officer Kelly Gwaltney said. “It’s a little different approach, but it’s more about 21st century skills than ‘everybody gets the same thing.’ ”

Principals at each school were able to hash out how the program would play out in their classrooms. Several have promised to inform parents what it will mean after school starts.

Hawk Ridge Elementary pointed parents to videos made at school districts in Georgia and Delaware that show students working in small groups or on laptops doing individual assignments.

CMS received a $200,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2013 to come up with the strategic plan for the program.

Elementary schools in the program are Eastover, Grand Oak, Newell, Devonshire, Hawk Ridge, Lake Wylie, Pinewood, Whitewater Academy, Tuckaseegee and Barringer Academic Center.

The middle schools are Carmel, Ridge Road, Martin Luther King Jr. and Kennedy. The Renaissance School of Arts & Technology at Olympic High also is part of the program.

New schools

Three new schools will be marking their first days Monday.

Palisades Park Elementary School on York Road in the Steele Creek area has 39 classrooms and eases overcrowding at Winget Park and Lake Wylie elementary schools.

Trillium Springs Montessori School is opening in Huntersville. It’s the first CMS Montessori school in the northern part of the county.

Charlotte Engineering Early College is opening on UNC Charlotte’s campus. The school focuses on science, technology, engineering and math with an emphasis on energy.