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The North Carolina General Assembly mandated the creation of laboratory schools with a piece of legislation in 2016. ECU Community School is one of them.

Operated by UNC system institutions, lab schools are public schools with charter-like flexibility designed to serve low-performing students. Although it is technically not part of Pitt County Schools, the ECU Community School is located on South Greenville Elementary’s campus, the school its students previously attended. It offers grades K-5.

According to principal Tracy Cole, 88% of the Community School’s families live at or below the poverty line. That creates unique challenges for teachers and administrators that require different approaches. Unlike many schools, the Community School has its own full-time social worker and nurse to meet students’ and families’ needs.

The most unique feature of the school is its partnership with East Carolina University. The university’s College of Education helps craft the school’s curriculum and offers help and feedback to teachers. Likewise, teachers-in-training from ECU observe Community School faculty and have the opportunity to practice their craft in real-world situations.

Many other departments at ECU work closely with the school, including the Schools of Dental Medicine, Allied Health Sciences, Health and Human Performance, and more. These departments help provide wraparound support for students, from personal hygiene to counseling for the many who are affected by adverse childhood experiences.

This is the second part in a series on North Carolina’s lab schools. To learn more about lab schools, read the first article here

Robert Kinlaw

As EducationNC’s director of multimedia, Robert Kinlaw focuses on telling stories with video, photos, and sound.