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NCSSM distance courses support student learning during pandemic

The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics’ (NCSSM) Open Enrollment Courses have been delivering high-quality STEM and humanities instruction to our state’s public high school students since 1994. This long-standing history with synchronous, remote instruction saw NCSSM well-positioned as schools across the state moved from traditional face-to-face environments to remote teaching last March. 

Now, eight months into hybrid and remote teaching and learning, NCSSM is expanding its offerings to increase access to educational opportunities for North Carolina public high school students during these most unique of circumstances.

“While many online classes result in the student doing most of the work on their own, the class I took was very interactive and fun,” said Trent Thompson, a student at A.L. Brown High School in Kannapolis. “I have really enjoyed taking genetics, and there hasn’t been a large amount of busy work, but I still feel like I am learning so much about the topic. Having a Zoom every day makes it seem more like a classroom where I can interact with my fellow students which is really helpful in staying motivated.”

Traditionally, NCSSM’s Open Enrollment courses have been live, synchronous courses taught by NCSSM faculty to students in their home schools during the school day. Designed to be a partnership between NCSSM and local schools, students remain enrolled in their home high schools while dual enrolling in one or more of the 30 unique course offerings available in the program.  

Open Enrollment Program enable schools to expand their course catalogs with AP offerings such as AP Calculus AB / BC, AP Statistics, AP Psychology, and AP Micro and Macroeconomics; hard-to-staff courses such as Honors Aerospace Engineering and Honors Genetics and Biotechnology; and unique, one-of-a-kind courses such as the new Honors Science of Race, Honors Tech Art, and Honors Communications in Public and Environmental Health Research courses.

“I am really excited to announce our new Honors Science of Race course,” said Kendall Hageman-Mays, director for distance education and extended programs for NCSSM. “Building on the work of the ‘Race: Are We so Different?’ exhibit hosted at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences back in 2017, this course has been developed in partnership between Dr. Jamie Lathan, humanities instructor of Dean of Distance Education and Candice Chambers, anthropology instructor and Teacher Development Specialist. It seeks, among other things, to explore the ways in which race and racism have been created, justified, or contested in scientific practice and discourse.”

Schools wanting more information on the NCSSM Open Enrollment Program and courses can reach out to us at

Students interested in these courses are encouraged to reach out to their school counselors. Registration must be requested and facilitated by a school official, usually the school counselor. Students cannot register for the Open Enrollment courses on their own.

Rafael Serrano Acosta from Southwest Edgecombe High School said, “Meeting friends from across the state is amazing, and I like that I can actually be myself with worrying about people judging me in school. Also, being able to go back and rewatch the recordings to note down anything I missed in class is awesome.”

Students and families interested in learning more about the Open Enrollment Program and courses will have the opportunity to participate in an upcoming information session.  

  • Wednesday, November 18 6:00PM to 7:00PM
  • Thursday, November 20 12:30PM to 1:30PM

Click here to register for an information session. The Zoom link for the webinar will be emailed one hour prior to the session.  

If you are unable to attend any of the scheduled webinars, a recording will be available on Monday, November 23. You may request a copy of the recording by reaching out to our Outreach and Partnership Manager, Camilla Brothers at  


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