Skip to content

EdNC. Essential education news. Important stories. Your voice.

College Board, Public Impact, and N.C. School of Science and Mathematics pilot remotely located teacher leadership to prepare students for AP Math

The College Board and the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM) are partnering with Public Impact’s Opportunity Culture initiative to reach rural North Carolina school districts with excellent NCSSM teachers.

The national Opportunity Culture initiative extends the reach of excellent teachers and their teams to more students, for more pay, within schools’ recurring budgets. In the first phase of the new pilot, an excellent NCSSM teacher will become an Opportunity Culture multi-classroom leader for a team of pre-calculus teachers spread across rural North Carolina in the spring 2019 semester. The first phase will lay the groundwork to add more remotely located multi-classroom leaders from NCSSM and elsewhere.

Opportunity Culture multi-classroom leaders usually lead a small teaching team within one school, providing instructional guidance and frequent on-the-job coaching while continuing to teach part of the time. Accountable for the results of all students in the team, they also earn supplements averaging 20 percent (and up to 50 percent) of teacher pay, within the regular school budget. The schools redesign schedules to provide additional school-day time for teacher planning, coaching and collaboration.

Many rural and urban schools do not have enough teachers prepared to ensure student success in advanced math, science and other courses leading up to and including the AP level. This shortage was the impetus for the partnership of the College Board, Public Impact and NCSSM.

In 2018, researchers at the Brookings Institution and American Institutes for Research released a study showing the effect Opportunity Culture multi-classroom leaders can have: Teachers who were on average at the 50th percentile in student learning gains, and who then joined teams led by multi-classroom leaders, produced learning gains equivalent to those of teachers from the 75th to 85th percentile in math.

And in 2017–18, Opportunity Culture schools in North Carolina—the largest implementation state so far, with about 80 schools—outpaced the state results in student growth. While only 27 percent of non-Opportunity Culture schools in North Carolina exceeded student learning growth targets, nearly double that—53 percent— of Opportunity Culture schools exceeded growth.

Founded and led by Public Impact, which is based in the Chapel Hill, N.C., area, Opportunity Culture now includes more than 20 districts in nine states, but no district or state has used the option of a remotely located multi-classroom leader (MCL).

This pilot will expand access to excellent teaching through a combination of instruction delivered by the MCL remotely and by on-site teachers under the MCL’s guidance. The College Board expects the pilot to demonstrate a new way to provide many more students with advanced coursework from in-person teachers in locations lacking such instruction now.

“We’re excited that the pilot will inform how we can help teachers support more students, especially those in rural areas, in developing the skills necessary for college success,“ said David Gupta, vice president of the College Board’s Southern Regional Office. “This will prepare students for success in AP courses, which give students the opportunity to earn college credit for their hard work in high school.”

A hallmark of Opportunity Culture design is the higher pay for MCLs financed within existing school budgets. Public Impact will develop financial models that illustrate how Remotely Located Multi-Classroom Leadership could be expanded to schools across the country.

North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics will design and deliver the pre-calculus pilot course. Public Impact and NCSSM will design the remotely located MCL role and technology-enabled interaction with teachers and students. This pilot is limited to districts and schools in North Carolina, a state with expanding interest in Opportunity Culture (eight districts so far belong to the Opportunity Culture initiative) and remote access to online AP courses. Students benefit by being able to enroll in the class at their home school and receive both remotely delivered and in-person instruction. The in-person teachers benefit from the MCL’s guidance, support and teaching team collaboration.

“NCSSM teachers already deliver classes to students across the state through our distance learning initiative,” noted Melissa Thibault, NCSSM’s vice chancellor for distance education and extended programs. “This pilot gives our educators a way to help more teachers benefit from the kind of leadership and educator collaboration that exists on our campus, so we can reach even more students.”

Maria Hernandez of NCSSM will be the remotely located multi-classroom leader.

“I am excited to be part of this project because I will be working with dedicated pre-calculus teachers from across North Carolina,” Hernandez said. “Our hope is to support each other as we share teaching practices and rigorous curriculum that will engage students and foster mathematical curiosity. Working to prepare students for higher-level mathematics courses can help us pave the way for greater access to STEM careers in the future.” Hernandez will lead a team of these teachers:

  • Stanford Wickham, Vance County High School
  • Jocelyn Thammavong, New Bern High School
  • Ashley Knox, New Bern High School
  • Corrette Miller, Lexington Senior High School
  • Sarah Donaldson, North Pitt High School 

“I really like the idea of having an extra teacher in the classroom, even if it’s not every day—someone to coteach, to answer students’ questions so that they can dig deeper into content, and to guide me in better developing students’ higher-order thinking skills with probing questions,” New Bern High teacher Ashley Knox said.

Veteran teacher Corrette Miller said she sees long-term benefits to multi-classroom leadership: “I’ve been in public schools for 30 years, and this is what’s going to keep me in for the next five to 10 years. This won’t just improve my teaching for this year—it will impact all the students that I’ll teach for the rest of my career.”

When the pilot concludes in June 2019, Public Impact will publish sample models and resources to encourage future design and implementation of Remotely Located Multi-Classroom Leadership across the U.S.

“Every student and teacher should have access to a professional team that will help them achieve high-growth learning in advanced subjects. In some locations, remotely-connected teams make that possible. We’re thrilled to have exemplary partners in the College Board, NCSSM, the school districts and dedicated educators to help achieve this goal,” said Stephanie Dean, vice president of strategic policy advising at Public Impact.

About Public Impact

Public Impact’s mission is to improve education dramatically for all students, especially low-income students, students of color, and other students whose needs historically have not been well met. We are a team of professionals from many backgrounds, including former teachers. We are researchers, thought leaders, toolbuilders, and on-the-ground consultants who work with leading education reformers.

Learn more about an Opportunity Culture on the website, which provides tools—all free—to build an Opportunity Culture, videos of teachers and principals, and related resources. Funding for development of resources to help schools design and implement Opportunity Culture models and support teachers taking on new roles has been provided by national foundations.

Hear directly from educators who have worked in Opportunity Culture schools in columns published on national and state news sites. For more information, please visit To arrange an interview with Public Impact, contact Sharon Kebschull Barrett at; 919.590.4154.

About the College Board

The College Board is a mission-driven not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is made up of over 6,000 of the world’s leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education.

Each year, the College Board helps more than seven million students prepare for a successful transition to college through programs and services in college readiness and college success — including the SAT and the Advanced Placement Program. The organization also serves the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators and schools. For more information, please contact

About the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics

The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics is the nation’s first public, residential STEM high school, challenging and inspiring North Carolina’s students through residential, online, and summer programs. Founded in 1980, its goal is to meet North Carolina’s need for responsible leadership in the development and application of science, mathematics and technology; and to act as a catalyst for educational improvement throughout the state and the nation. For more information, see


EdNC staff reporting relies on staff, interns, and columnists.