For more than a month, leadership from Wayne County Public Schools and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, in conjunction with a small delegate of elected officials and county staff, have been exploring the possibilities of a new school located on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. On Monday evening, WCPS interim superintendent, Dr. James Merrill, presented two potential school program options to the Wayne County Board of Education. Monday evening the Board of Education approved a resolution Memorandum of Understanding which will now go to SJAFB and the Wayne County Board of Commissioners for their signatures.
“We are still very early in this process and have just begun outlining possible programming that could be operated in an existing building on Base,” states Dr. Merrill. “While no official decisions have been made, this process highlights the strong partnership between our entities and the desire to maximize resources within Wayne County to bring out the best in education for all students in Wayne County.”
The first program option being explored is the Wayne School of Technical Arts. The proposed school could potentially serve military and non-military connected high school students. The school would offer programs such as Art and architectural drawing; drafting and computer animation; software, app, and game design; artificial intelligence; robotics; virtual reality; video production and digital recording; coding languages; visual storytelling; e-sports, team management, marketing, and game promotion.
“Interested students would be selected through a lottery system,” adds Dr. Marcia Manning, assistant superintendent for Students Services & Innovative Programs. “This program would have many unique course pathways and extracurricular opportunities to complement students’ core high school courses. Students would also be required to learn a world language as part of the program.”
The second program being explored is the North Carolina Virtual Public School Academy, a WCPS high school. This proposed school could serve military-connected high school students who transfer to WCPS from around the world as well as non-military connected students. WCPS would provide a staff member to serve as the NCVPS Coordinator, who has a background in general education and guidance counseling. Participating students may have the opportunity to take part in on-Base experiential learning opportunities and/or internships.
The target population for this initiative is military-connected high school students who are currently home schooled, and/or students who learn better in a small, individualized environment, but who are also motivated enough to direct their own learning.
“The 4th Fighter Wing and Wayne County Public Schools have a long history of cooperation and partnership”, said Col. Kurt Helphinstine, 4th Fighter Wing Commander. “We look forward to continuing that partnership in support of our shared community as we explore ways to increase the educational resources available to our children.
Both proposed programs being explored would utilize an existing building on the Base, which currently houses classrooms and other available learning spaces. If brought to fruition, the school would be expected to open in Fall 2022.