In early 2019, in the latest round of funding for the state’s Advanced Teaching Roles pilot, the North Carolina State Board of Education awarded a grant to Halifax County Schools in eastern North Carolina to implement Opportunity Culture roles.
Halifax County Schools and the two other grantees that will use Opportunity Culture—Hertford County Public Schools and Lexington City Schools—are high-poverty districts that struggle with academic success and attracting and retaining teachers. They will use Opportunity Culture roles, which have produced outstanding student growth elsewhere, to provide intensive support to all teachers, paid career advancement and a stronger teacher pipeline.
Halifax County Schools (HCS) will design its Opportunity Culture plans in spring 2019 for implementation in fall 2019. HCS has 10 schools and 178 teachers. They serve about 2,560 students, of whom about 84 percent are black, 6 percent American Indian, 4 percent white and 4 percent Hispanic. One hundred percent of the students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch. The district suffers from a teacher turnover rate of 29 percent and academically struggling students.
“We are grateful to be awarded the grant to partner with Public Impact in the Opportunity Culture model,” Superintendent Eric Cunningham said. “This grant will allow our district to develop a strategic and sustainable model to compensate teachers who work above and beyond to meet the needs of our students. The mission of HCS is to create a positive and supportive learning environment. This partnership is a big step in building teacher capacity—a critical component to raising student achievement. Halifax County Schools is well on the way of becoming a lighthouse school district for all students.”
In the first phase of the Advanced Roles pilot, the school districts of Vance County, Edgecombe County, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, all of which use Opportunity Culture, were three of the first six districts selected.