Three Middle Schools Tapped as Schools to Watch; 11 Earn Re-Designation

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NCDPI News Release

For immediate release

April 20, 2017



Three Middle Schools Tapped as Schools to Watch;

11 Middle Schools Earn Re-Designation

Ellerbe Middle and Rockingham Middle (Richmond County Schools), and Newton-Conover STEM Middle (Newton-Conover City Schools) are the latest North Carolina middle schools to be named Schools to Watch by the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform. The schools’ emphasis on strong academics, sensitivity to young adolescents’ needs and interests, and commitment to providing all students equal access to a high-quality education resulted in the well-deserved recognition.


Schools are recognized for a three-year period, at the end of which they must apply for re-designation and demonstrate that they are continuing to meet the National Forum’s rigorous criteria. The following 11 North Carolina middle schools were re-designated as Schools to Watch:

  • Charles W. Stanford Middle (Orange County Schools) and Mount Airy Middle (Mount Airy City Schools) earned their first re-designation.
  • McGee’s Crossroads Middle (Johnston County Schools), Piedmont Open IB Middle (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools), and Chowan Middle (Edenton-Chowan Public Schools) – first designated six years ago – were re-designated for the second time.
  • Rogers-Herr Middle (Durham Public Schools), West Pine Middle (Moore County Schools), and Thomas Jefferson Middle (Winston-Salem/Forsyth Schools) – first recognized nine years ago —were re-designated for the third time.
  • Carmel Middle and Jay M. Robinson Middle (Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools) and East Yancey Middle (Yancey County Schools) – first recognized 12 years ago – were re-designated for the fourth time.

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction Chief Academic and Digital Learning Officer Maria Pitre-Martin congratulated the schools’ principals, teachers and students. “These principals, teachers and staff demonstrate that strong leadership and academic expectations, combined with an approach geared to the instructional and emotional needs of middle grades students, paves the way to success,” she said.


North Carolina currently has 33 middle schools designated as Schools to Watch. To be selected as a Schools to Watch, schools need to be:

  • Academically Excellent. Is the curriculum rigorous and relevant to the real world?
  • Developmentally Responsive. Do students have a safe, healthy and personalized learning environment that is responsive to the unique needs and interests of young adolescents?
  • Socially Equitable. Do all students have access to high-quality classes and the support they need to achieve at high levels?
  • Organized with Supportive Structure. Is there shared leadership, collaborative learning communities, targeted professional development and effective organizational structures?

These schools are available for interested educators to visit and learn about the application and see first-hand what made them a Schools to Watch. They also will be showcased as models throughout the state and the nation to promote their approaches to instruction, parent and community involvement, and professional development. The schools were recently recognized at the North Carolina Middle School Conference in Greensboro and will be recognized this summer in Washington, DC at the National Schools to Watch Conference.


In 2002, North Carolina became one of the first states selected by the National Forum to replicate the Schools to Watch program as a way to identify high-performing middle grades schools to serve as models of excellence for other schools. Currently, 17 states are involved in this school reform and recognition initiative. Different education organizations have taken the lead in each state. In North Carolina, the North Carolina Middle School Association in collaboration with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to the state's efforts.


The National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform is an alliance of over 75 educators, researchers, national associations and officers of professional organizations and foundations dedicated to improving education in the middle grades.


For more information about the state's Schools to Watch program, please contact NC Middle School Association Executive Director Dr. Cathy Tomon or 252.241.1586.