Monday, September 21, 2009

K-8 @ the U?

The headline above, disciphered into plain English any school kid could understand, refers to a proposed partnership between UNC Charlotte and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to open a new elementary school on the university’s campus.

The idea is analgous to a "teaching hospital," with a mission to prepare the next generation of professionals. The proposal would provide College of Education students with more professional development training, and for CMS it would mean a new K-8 school with close ties to the university’s College of Education. That's important when you consider than UNC Charlotte graduated the second highest number of new school teachers of any university in North Carolina -- more than 630 new teachers in 2008. The more opportunities aspiring teachers get to work in direct contact with school children in classroom experiences, the better prepared they'll be to teach full time. And, “There’s a great need for additional schools in this part of Mecklenburg County,” Calhoun told the board.

The proposal is in the early stages and if approved by all parties the new school would open its doors in 2017, she said.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is the top employer of UNC Charlotte College of Education graduates and nearly 2,000 graduates of the college are working in the state’s largest school district. The university currently has professional development partnerships with several CMS, Cabarrus County, and city of Kannapolis schools.

If approved, the new school would be located on the UNC Charlotte campus in a shared-space agreement that allows for K-8 school-based professional preparation for education majors. The plans call for a K-8 facility with an enrollment of 1,000 students, who will come from surrounding neighborhoods.

The 54-classroom school would offer the university a campus location for faculty to observe, collaborate, research, implement and evaluate best practices in an on-site, urban public school.

The new school also would serve as a recruitment tool for future educators. And it will symbolize the university’s role as a public education partner with CMS. Calhoun said the next step will be to make sure the proposal is included in CMS’s new master construction plan in November.

With this initiative the Collge of Education is once again staking its claim to leadership in the training of new teachers.

University doing its part to make UCity safe and livable

Guest blog by Paul Nowell

The Charlotte Observer recently ran a column that highlights the enormous, if not insurmountable, challenges facing the part of the city aptly named for the campus it encompasses.

Located less than 10 miles from the city’s business district, the residents of University City have plenty of reasons to be proud. First and foremost, University City is home base to North Carolina’s urban research institution. UNC Charlotte's enrollment of 24,700 includes students, faculty and staff from 80 countries. Consequently, UCity is the most diverse area in Charlotte.

University City also is the Charlotte region's second-largest employment center. Not too shabby, huh? So what’s the problem?

Much like UNC Charlotte’s efforts to shed a persistent but outdated image, University City faces its own self-esteem problem. Kevin Toomb, marketing co-chair for University City Partners, noted too few people don’t know or just don’t care to find out the kinds of things the community has to offer.

Toomb is launching a brand campaign for University City. It comes on the heels of the UNC Charlotte’s own brand campaign, which urges students, faculty, staff and neighbors to “Stake Your Claim” in the university.

Toomb calls UNC Charlotte the “crown jewel” of UCity. He’s absolutely right. In addition to being the center for learning and research, the university also serves as a gathering place for neighbors to attend cultural events.

Still, anyone who lives or works in UCity knows there are challenges. Some Observer readers commented that the community suffer from crime and urban sprawl. While some of those comments may be true, UNC Charlotte is working to make UCity a better place, from the campus, outward.

UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois has made campus safety a top-of-mind issue; data on campus-area crime show that the campus is very safe. Even during tight economic times, Dubois has beefed up campus security.

Police patrol the campus and surrounding areas 24/7 on foot, bicycle, motorcycle, and car. Efforts also have been made to reach out to property managers at off-campus housing complexes to make sure they are providing safety tips to their residents. The University's new Master Plan, which will be finalized in a few months, presents options that will enhance the campus area even further. UCity is go through growing pains, but it is getting better.

Paul Nowell is media relations manager at UNC Charlotte