Education briefs

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Roger Baker founder will attend seminar
Baker Mitchell, founder of The Roger Bacon Academy, has been invited to join 50-60 other attendees from across the country to participate in Hillsdale College’s Charter School seminar, “What Makes Classical Education Different?”
The conference for charter school leaders will be June 24-27 at Hillsdale’s Dow Conference Center in Michigan and all expenses will be borne by The Barney Charter School Initiative, a new project funded by the Barney Family Foundation and other national donors.
Founded in 1844, Hillsdale College is known for its uniqueness in that it accepts no federal funding for any of its activities.
The three-day conference will feature such topics as: Undoing Dewey, Why Shakespeare Matters, Classical Math: Euclid, Pythagoras, and Newton, and Physiology and the Assault on Moral Education in Public Schools. Other topics range from progressivism in teacher certification requirements to school culture and grammar as the first liberal art.
According to Philip Kilgore, Hillsdale’s director of Charter School Development Programs, the seminar focuses on supporting groups that are planning on opening new schools in their communities and on fostering a community among existing classical schools seeking to learn from Hillsdale to strengthen their fidelity to the traditions of classical education.
Baker Mitchell founded The Roger Bacon Academy in 1999 and it operates two public charter schools in southeastern North Carolina under the direction of the school’s board: 900-student Charter Day School in Leland and 600-student Columbus Charter School in Whiteville.
“I have long been an admirer of Hillsdale College, and I am honored to have been selected to attend this conference,” Mitchell said. “I look forward to bringing back many ideas to help our schools accomplish their mission of achieving excellence through classical subjects and methods.”
Mitchell said North Carolina is beginning to receive recognition for its public charter schools, and with the cap now lifted, he believes there will be ample opportunity for good programs to flourish.
Mark Cramer, 12-year superintendent of the two charter schools, said they are continually seeking new sources for tested ideas to incorporate into the schools.
“Baker and I avoid the fads and look for solid data on what is achieving results in top schools across the country,” Cramer said. “We have a wide diversity of sources for our field-proven ideas. If an idea works somewhere else but isn’t working here, we know it must be our fault. So we fix it. Children will always learn, if we teach them correctly. I’m sure Baker will bring back a number of great ideas from Hillsdale and perhaps will explore establishing a continuing relationship with this outstanding college.”
Mitchell, a retired electrical engineer and entrepreneur, also serves on the boards of the John Locke Foundation and the N.C. Alliance for Public Charter Schools, and he has been appointed to the N.C. Public Charter School Advisory Council of the State Board of Education.
The Roger Bacon Academy schools are tuition-free, open enrollment K-8 public schools in southeastern North Carolina. Since 2000, The Roger Bacon Academy has focused on quality education and is a premier performance-driven year-round school. The Roger Bacon Academy schools have received numerous awards, including the designation of being a Top-25 School for Academic Growth and of Excellence in the state of North Carolina.

Reading program helps area students
Thanks to a multi-year grant from the New York-based Robertson Foundation, struggling readers in Brunswick County Schools have accessed The Hill Center’s Reading Achievement Program (HillRAP) to develop critical reading skills and improve performance.
The partnership, which began in 2008, has served as a model of how school systems and university-based programs can train teachers in using Hill’s proven programs cost-effectively to improve student outcomes.
“The teacher training in HillRAP has enabled 45 Brunswick County school teachers to implement this intensive reading intervention with almost 400 Brunswick County students. UNCW researchers evaluated student growth as a result of this program and the initial data of student growth is remarkable,” boasted Katherine Mabe, Brunswick County exceptional children teacher.
“HillRAP has given our teachers an amazing intervention that is producing positive results and marked improvements in reading achievement for our struggling readers,” said Melissa Quinlan, director of exceptional children. “It has truly impacted the way our teachers are teaching reading and has produced favorable changes in the way students feel about learning to read.”
During an end-of-grant celebration on Thursday, March 29, in the Watson School of Education at UNCW, final research results of the three-year project were shared. Anyone interested in learning more about the results of the program should contact Marcia Haney at mhaney@hillcenter.org.