From Rocky Mount Telegram, August 19, 2017, by Amelia Harper
LEGGETT — Roughly 100 educators from Egdecombe County Public Schools gathered this week in the cafeteria of North Edgecombe High School to celebrate creation of the new “I-Zone” in the north side of the school system.
“I-zone” is the code name for the school district’s new “Innovation Zone,” which includes North Edgecombe High School and its feeder schools — Phillips Middle School and Coker-Wimberly Elementary School. This area of the school district, which has long been plagued with poor performance scores and low graduation rates, is now the site of a new educational experiment that school district leaders hope will eventually expand and produce better results across the whole of Edgecombe County Public Schools.
“We are transforming the way we do education on the north side,” said Sylvia McGeachy, Wallace grant coordinator for the region.
The stated mission of the new Innovation Zone is “to create rigorous, authentic learning environments where students will develop into the architects of their own lives.”
Erin Swanson, director of innovation at Edgecombe County Public Schools, said this means creating higher expectations for students and helping them to envision pathways to greater success.
“What we hope to accomplish is to try to empower these students to have real choices in their lives,” Swanson said
Donnell Cannon, principal of North Edgecombe High School, said this aspect is one of the most important aspects of the I-Zone approach.
“We all have a shared desire to help kids realize their life purpose so that when they reach a crossroads in their lives, they will know where they want to go and who they want to be,” Cannon said. “This is the power of the Innovation Zone.”
The new Innovation Zone approach is based on three major pillars: leadership, ownership and partnership.
The leadership component will be seen primarily in the new “opportunity culture” that Edgecombe County Public Schools is bringing to the north side of the district. The initiative is designed to attract higher quality teachers by offering them additional salary incentives to mentor and train less experienced teachers, thus improving their teaching quality as well. The vision also includes the creation of a culture of coaching and increased opportunities for student leadership development. This article is no longer available online.