Fredrick Davis is a UNC-Chapel Hill graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning. He is currently working with North Carolina’s Northeast Commission in Edenton as part of the Carolina Economic Revitalization Corps program.
This summer, much work and emphasis have been placed on grants and initiatives focusing on community and economic development across Northeastern North Carolina, such as projects relating to attracting innovative businesses, technologies and community development building. Much of these projects, of the NC Northeast Commission’s plan, are efforts to make the northeast region more competitive.
While job creation, feasibility studies, strategic plans and local infrastructure improvements have been top priorities this summer, a recent business ribbon-cutting speech by Gov. Beverly Perdue also emphasized that education must not be overlooked. The speech highlighted the fact that education serves as a key component of staying ahead of the ever-changing, growing world economy and of preparing a globally competitive workforce.
In efforts to ensure the preparedness of students across the state, Gov. Perdue and a team of key leaders –including local and state policymakers, educators and business representatives – developed the North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS) in 2002. The purpose of NCVPS is to provide resources to students in school systems where Advanced Placement (AP) and college courses are not particularly accessible. Through NCVPS, students have access not only to courses that expand their academic options, but also to the services of highly qualified teachers in various subject areas.
Since the program began in Chowan County, high-school students have had the opportunity to take advantage of educational opportunities, with the courses offered through a virtual learning system, regardless of their school’s size and their school district’s resources. Through the program, students are able to take college courses through the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the College of the Albemarle.
There are however possible challenges facing the virtual learning initiative. Like many school systems in the state, Edenton-Chowan School District is facing budget cuts and reductions which could affect this virtual learning initiative, due to state revenue shortcomings. With North Carolina as the fifth-largest VPS school system in the country for enrollment and one of the fastest growing virtual schools in America, North Carolina is gaining an competitive edge for providing opportunities not only in the Northeastern region, but across the entire state.
The VPS school, has been put in place to ensure students access to a new world of knowledge that can be shared throughout the state. The state’s K-12 system and community college extension programs seek to ensure that the best qualified workforce remains in the region. With continued success of this program in areas such as Chowan County, the goal of the VPS, producing 21 century learners to succeed in a global competitive world located across the state, is attainable.