Big changes for students of Roger Bell Elementary

May 22, 2018
Sun Journal

By Michelle Lee

Havelock, North Carolina is known for being the home of the Cherry Point Air Station, a North Carolina Ferry Terminal and a small town on the way to the beach. With all of the changes taking place at one of the elementary schools in town, Havelock is also the home of the only New Tech elementary school in North Carolina. Roger Bell New Tech Academy will open for students in August 2018.

New Tech is a network of K-12 schools across the country which began in Napa, California 21 years ago with New Tech High School. The four pillars of New Tech are:

Culture that Empowers: School-wide culture of empowerment for students and adults.

Teaching that Engages: Project and problem-based approach to instruction.

Technology that Enables: Use of technology for collaboration, access to information, and self-directed learning.

Outcomes that Matter: Student outcomes for college, career and civic readiness.

The New Tech framework was selected specifically because of the focus on problem/project-based learning. During our research to find out what our stakeholders wanted for our children, this theme was heard over and over from our workforce partners throughout our community. Problem based learning is a method of teaching that puts authentic, relevant, real-world problems in front of students which are aligned to our state standards and asks students to work to solve those problems.

This type of instruction requires a shift in our teaching methods that puts the focus squarely on student learning. Problem/Project-based learning requires collaboration, persistence, creativity, deep and critical thinking, and high levels of communication on the part of our students. Through the use of rubrics to access certain behaviors, skills and knowledge students are held accountable. Problem/Project-based learning is the instructional method that our industry partners are telling us our students lack and is supported by research and studies over the last several decades which tells us our future demands students who have developed skills for living in a knowledge-based, highly technological society. Students at Roger Bell Elementary School will continue to learn the basics of reading, writing and mathematics. However, these skills will be strengthened by the work they will engage in when they tackle and have to solve real-world problems, use novel tools, and present their findings.

Over the summer, staff of Roger Bell New Tech Academy will be involved in intensive professional development to prepare for our very first group of scholars at Roger Bell New Tech Academy.

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