MakerDay at Northeast Middle School

Dr. Sharon Jones, the founder of thedot. Consulting, has partnered with Jennifer Hamilton, the magnet coordinator of Northeast Middle School to plan and implement the first annual MakerDay at Northeast Middle School.  Darnell Bennett (the executive chef at Tupelo Honey), Paula Okonneh (of Chatting with the Experts and LadyTech Charmers), and Jillian Klingberg (the executive director of the Dottie Rose Foundation) worked with groups of students to help them see how computational thinking is part of their everyday lives as adults.


“We have created a Maker Day by partnering with the community to further our computational thinking reach.  We wanted the kids to see professionals who use computational thinking everyday so that they can see how the skills we are teaching them will help them in their futures,” Dr. Jones said of today’s event.

Mrs. Hamilton said that the purpose of today’s MakerDay is twofold: first, to provide a rich experience for the students of Northeast Middle School; secondly, to model how seamlessly computational thinking can be integrated into the core subject areas.  She said, “ I created exemplar lesson plans for each of the four interdisciplinary experiences so that teachers can see how easily computational thinking can be integrated into their classrooms.”


There were four different experiences for students: Cooking and Algorithms; Design Thinking with Spheros and Ancient Cities; Data and Flight Engineering; and Storytelling with Stop Motion.  The Media Center, MakerSpace, and Tinkering Lab were literally buzzing with the sounds of drones and middle-schoolers who were highly engaged in learning. Rain, a sixth-grader, said, “It’s been awesome.  Earlier, I was in design and modeling and I did drones. Now I’m working on creating a road for the Sphero to drive on.” His partner Sekai added on, “It’s fun- we get to do stuff we like, and we get to learn while we work with technology.”


One student was wearing a shirt that summed up MakerDay at Northeast Middle School perfectly: “Create the Future”.  And that is exactly what these kids are doing.


(To hear more about the magnet program at Northeast and magnet programs in CMS, check out episodes 52 and 53 of the LadyTech Charmers podcast:


Whitewater Middle students get a space to build, invent and design

A new innovative learning lab opened Oct. 3 at Whitewater Middle.  A result of Verizon’s vision and partnership, it offers students a bright, modern 3,000-square-foot area where they can collaborate, create, communicate, think critically and solve problems — all necessary skills in today’s learning environment.

Whitewater is one of six schools in CMS that have been part of Verizon Innovative Learning since 2016. Now, it is one of the first two middle schools in the country to have an innovative learning lab. The project started 18 months ago with the Verizon Foundation’s education program team. The team visited labs and makerspaces at leading universities such as Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University and the University of Virginia to ensure that the new lab would be of the highest caliber.

“Research has shown that maker-centered learning helps students develop ingenuity and flexibility, as well as self-confidence and a sense of community,” said Principal Beth Thompson. “Let’s take virtual reality as an example. We don’t know everything that can be done with that technology yet, but we can teach it and let our students’ minds take us to where it can go. That is the power of having this space. We can have ‘what if’ moments every day.”

The lab’s focus is on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) — a perfect match for Whitewater, which is an environmental STEM-themed school. The lab features such technology as augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR), coding and circuits, 3D design and sound production. There is also write-on wall paint throughout the space, interactive monitors and two adjoining classrooms.

“I love this lab. I’m an artsy type of guy so the 3D printer is cool,” said Jeffrey Hairston Jr., a seventh-grader. “It’s hands-on, so it won’t get boring either.”

Seventh-grader Sumayyah Muhammad-Bouaoud and eighth-grader Marco Castillo agree that the virtual reality is one of the biggest hits among students.

“When I’m using the AR/VR I don’t have to design things on paper. I’m drawing, building and moving my creations in real time to see how they work,” said Sumayyah.

Eighth-graders Jakob Yang and Antonio Nie sat at a table with a case full of circuits and other materials that could be used for making games, robots, alarms and sensors. They were building and programming a car. Nearby, another set of students were making an alarm.

“There was a time when we were one of the lowest-growth schools in the district and many thought we couldn’t improve. In the last four years, we have exceeded growth, proving our students are capable,” said Thompson. “This lab is another resource that gives them an opportunity to explore and experience the endless possibilities that technology provides in and outside of the classroom.”

Center City Transportation Zone Community Feedback Session

Center City Transportation Zone Community Feedback Session

Myers Park High School Cafeteria
Thursday, June 14
6:00pm – 7:00pm

The Board of Education is considering a proposal to eliminate the Center City Transportation Zone. The Board and staff welcome your feedback in advance of the June 26 public hearing and Board vote.

Proposal Overview

  • Effective with the 2019-20 school year, eliminate the Center City Transportation Zone
  • Students will continue to have access to magnet programs based on their color-coded transportation zones (i.e., Blue, Green and Violet)
  • All students currently enrolled in a magnet program will continue in that magnet school through the terminal grade; the sibling guarantee will still apply
  • Students in the following high school attendance areas in the Green Transportation Zone will be transportation-eligible for Randolph IB Middle: Butler, East Mecklenburg, Independence, Providence (currently, Randolph serves the entire Green Zone)
  • Students in the following high school attendance areas in the Green Transportation Zone will be transportation-eligible for Piedmont IB Middle: Garinger, Rocky River (currently Piedmont serves only the Center City portion of the Green Zone)

Not sure if you’re in the Center City Zone?

Use the county’s Geoportal to see if your address falls within one of the elementary home school attendance areas below.

Elementary Home School Attendance Areas within the Center City Transportation Zone

Ashley Park Billingsville Eastover Dilworth (partial)
Shamrock Gardens Oakhurst (partial) Walter G. Byers

Magnet Programs Serving the Center City Transportation Zone

Barringer LI/TD
Irwin LI/ TD
Shamrock Gardens LI/TD
Elizabeth Traditional
Quail Hollow Leadership
Eastway Leadership
Myers Park HS IB (not a magnet school)
Randolph IB
Piedmont IB
Governors Village STEM Myers Park Traditional

Additional information about which magnet programs serve the Blue, Green and Violet transportation zones may be found here.


Download PDF here

Download Center City Zone PDF here

NEW Computer Science Middle School

Late this August, the Wilson STEM Academy will have its grand opening.  The school will feature a beautiful state-of-the-art facility, equipped with the latest technology and spaces conducive to providing innovative learning opportunities, thanks to a multi-million dollar renovation.  The Wilson STEM Academy will have a dynamic staff committed to fully addressing the unique academic, emotional, and social needs of our middle school scholars.


In conjunction with Project Lead The Way and, nationally recognized computer science education organizations, the Wilson STEM Academy curriculum includes computer science courses such as Design and Modeling, Automation and Robotics, App Creators, and Computer Science for Innovators and Makers.  Computer science principles (problem solving, critical thinking, and teamwork skills) will be integrated into all the other classes taken by your child. Whether your child builds a game for a younger sibling, creates an app that keeps track of a family schedule, or makes a webpage to organize a community event, he or she will learn the ins and outs of the technology that is changing the world, and will ultimately leave the Wilson prepared to enter an advanced computer science pathway program in high school.


Furthermore, beyond a robust computer science curriculum, students will have multiple opportunities to engage in project-based interdisciplinary learning, where they will simultaneously work to master grade level standards in English, social studies, science, and math.  In addition, blended or computer-aided learning will help to ensure that we can personalize learning plans for your child to account for their strengths and needs in reading, writing, and math so that he or she leaves the Wilson fully prepared to access a college preparatory high school program.  


Lastly, to ensure that the needs of the whole child are met, the Wilson will have a comprehensive arts program featuring instrumental music, chorus, visual art, dance, theatre, TV/film production, and digital photography, as well as an after-school sports program.


The Wilson STEM Academy promises to be a safe, welcoming, and nurturing learning community, in part via an advisory program that will include at least one educator who will closely monitor the progress of your child, and include circle-based discussions, career and college exploration, and study skill instruction.  


Learning will also take place outside the walls of the Wilson as your child will engage in community service and experiential learning such as field trips and internships with local organizations.  


Regardless of your child’s prior experience with school, they will leave the Wilson equipped with the mindset, skills, and confidence necessary to fully embrace their high school and college years.


Should you like to learn more about this exciting new magnet option, come out to Renaissance West STEAM Academy on April 12 at 6pm for an Info Session! 



Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions via email at [email protected] r via phone at (980) 343-6070.



Jeff Cook


Wilson STEM Academy

NEW dual-language program

Classrooms at Oaklawn and Collinswood language academies look — and sound — like a Spanish class. Teachers and students converse in Spanish. Signs and books written in Spanish are on walls and shelves throughout both schools. In fact, the classes are dual language-immersion programs. The programs are so popular that both schools have waiting lists. Now families will have another option. A new K-8 Spanish language immersion magnet, designated Albemarle Road relief school, will open in the 2018-2019 school year.

The new school will serve as a home school and a dual-language program to relieve overcrowding in nearby elementary schools and to expand the language immersion program.

Students in the dual-language program will receive instruction similar to that at Oaklawn and Collinswood. The program will start with K-1 in 2018-2019 and expand a grade level each year. Kindergarten students will become familiar with the new language as lessons are taught in Spanish for the entire instructional day. Students in the K-8 immersion track will have specific subjects taught in Spanish. Students in grades K-5 in the home school track will receive Spanish as a foreign language and students in grades 6-8 will receive Spanish I and II.

Carmen Concepcion will be the principal at the new school. She said all students should expect global themes to be a central part of the school culture. Teaching staff will also have diverse backgrounds.

“I want parents to know we will be an inclusive school,” said Concepcion. “As the former principal of Oaklawn, I plan to make this program as good as the one I’ve left. Oaklawn has been recognized as the top magnet in the nation in 2012 and in the state we were recognized for being a Title I Reward School for high progress.”

English-language learners in the non-immersion program will receive 90 minutes of curriculum content in their native language. The instruction provides selected basic skills and concepts in core subjects in the students’ native language as they acquire English.

“We have to meet our students were they are and help them grow so they can succeed,” said Concepcion. “We want to create an environment in which all our students’ background knowledge and personal experiences are valued and utilized.”

More than 45,000 students in CMS speak a language other than English at home. Overall, 205 languages are spoken by CMS students, who come from 186 countries. This year, CMS has 19,794 English Language learners, which is 18 percent of all English Language Learners in North Carolina.

Concepcion encourages the community to make recommendations for naming the new school. She is providing opportunities for community members to provide input: families can like the Albemarle Road Relief School on Facebook and visit to submit comments.

CMS Board Policy FF (Naming Facilities) requires that school names represent the geographic area or community in which the school is located, a historical figure or location, or an individual who is deceased whose name has special significance and /or who made an outstanding contribution to the school or school system, community, state or nation.

Concepcion will appoint a School Name Advising Committee to review, research and select three names to be presented to the superintendent. Those recommendations will then be sent to the Board for vote.

The construction project is funded with money from the 2013 bond referendum. Community members can learn about the school’s progress and view the architectural rendering and other progress photos, click here.

“It will be a new building but the program is tried and true,” said Concepcion. “I can’t wait to meet all of our families and get started on this journey with them.”

Lottery Round 3: Open Seats

Based on the Round 1 and 2 Lottery results, these schools have space available in the grade levels listed below. Space available does not include wait pools.


If you applied in Round 1 or 2 and received a letter stating you have been placed in the school of your first choice, that assignment will not change.

If you applied in Round 1 or 2 and did not get placed in the school of your first choice, you’ll automatically be enrolled for later rounds.

The lottery is always working to place each student in their top preference. This may mean your assignment changes after each round if your preference is available. Assignment changes in the lottery process are automatic – there is no option to accept or decline.

Waitlists will not be generated until the end of the Round 3.

A notification letter will be mailed to you after each round of the lottery with your assignment. If you get placed into a school of higher preference, you will receive a new letter. If you receive an assignment letter stating you have been placed in the school of your first choice, that assignment will not change.

We will start to call with assignment changes from the waitlist during the summer months. You will have the option to stay in your current assignment or choose the waitlist seat. This option is only available after the lottery rounds have closed and for the waitlist process only.

Questions? Email us at [email protected] or call 980-343-5030.


Elementary Schools
Albemarle Road Relief Elementary Spanish Immersion K,1
Bruns Elementary Environmental STEM K,1,2,3,4,5
Greenway Park Creative Arts & Sciences K,1,2,3
Idlewild Elementary LI/TD 3,4,5
Irwin Elementary LI/TD 3,4,5
Mallard Cark Elementary LI/TD K,3,4,5
Marie G. Davis Elementary IB K
Tuckaseegee Elementary LI/TD K,1,2,3,4,5
University Park Creative Arts Elementary K
Walter G. Byers K-8 Health Sciences K,2


Middle Schools
Albemarle Road Middle IB 7,8
Northeast Middle Computer Science 6
Northridge Middle Computer Sciecne 7
Northwest School of the Arts – contact for auditions 6,7,8
Quail Hollow Middle Leadership & Paidea 7
Ranson Middle IB 6
Walter G. Byers K-8 Health Sciences 7
Whitewater Middle Environmental STEM 7
Wilson Middle Computer Science 6,7


High Schools
East Meck High School IB 9
Harding High School IB 9,10
Harding Institute of Technology 3D Manufacturing 9,10
Harding Institute of Technology Automotive 9,10
Harding Institute of Technology Construction 10
Northwest School of the Arts – contact for auditions 9,10,11,12
West Charlotte High School IB 9,10


21 School Choice schools earn national recognition

Twenty-one magnets in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools have won national recognition for their specialized programs. Eight schools earned the highest designation as a School of Excellence from the national organization Magnet Schools of America. Thirteen others were named Schools of Distinction.

“Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is proud to offer such a wide range of specialized programs to meet the needs of our students,” said Dr. Clayton Wilcox, superintendent. “We are honored to have so many of our magnet schools receive national recognition from the Magnet Schools of America. These schools are part of our commitment to diversity and helping our students prepare for a 21st-century workplace.”

The awards, given each year, go to schools that show a strong commitment to academic standards, demonstrate curriculum innovation and have diversity in enrollment.

In addition to academics, curriculum and diversity, the schools are also judged on community partnerships and parent involvement. To be considered, a school must submit a detailed application, which is scored by a panel of educators.

The eight schools winning the School of Excellence award were Cotswold IB World School, E.E. Waddell Language Academy, First Ward Creative Arts Academy, Highland Mill Montessori, J.M Alexander Middle, Oaklawn Language Academy, Piedmont Middle School and Shamrock Gardens Elementary.

The 13 schools recognized as a School of Distinction were Chantilly Montessori, East Mecklenburg High, Huntingtowne Farms Elementary, Idlewild Elementary (which was named the best magnet elementary school in America in 2017), Irwin Academic Center, John Motley Morehead STEM Academy, Kennedy Middle, Mallard Creek Elementary, North Mecklenburg High, Northwest School of the Arts, Oakhurst STEAM Academy, Phillip O. Berry Academy of Technology and Randolph Middle.

The schools will be formally recognized as winners during an awards ceremony at Magnet Schools of America’s annual national conference in Chicago in late April. To learn more about Magnet Schools of America, click here.

Harding University High School – 2nd Annual Career & Technical Education Showcase

Harding University High School’s second annual Career and Technical Education (CTE) Showcase featured courses offered to middle school students on Friday, February 23, 2018. 180 middle school students attended this event! The featured showcase was Harding’s Institute of Technology, which is a countywide magnet program. HUHS Institute of Technology is one of CMS School Choice schools designed to immerse the high school students in the Industrial and Trade Industry- oriented curriculum involving a hands on learning environment, real world experience, and technical expertise.

The ultimate goal is for students to graduate career and college ready in one of the three (3) areas: Automotive Technology, Construction Technology, and 3D Design/Digital Manufacturing. During the showcase, middle school students explored classes that can be taken at Harding University High School that align with classes offered at Harding’s Institute of Technology. Industry partners that were in attendance (i.e., Advanced Manufacturing Companies-Phaff Mold, L.P., Groninger USA LLC, Siemens Manufacturing, Construction Companies-Wayne Brothers Construction, Baston-Cook Construction, Land Design, Carolina AGC Foundations, UTI/NASCAR Institute of Technology, representatives from various departments of CPCC-Harper Campus & CPCC-Merancus Campus, CharlotteWorks) to answer questions and provide information about local career options . The event gave students hands-on demonstrations, speak with industry partners, meet the teachers and current students that are in the magnet program.

What did students say?
“Are you telling us that we can have the opportunity to learn how to operate this equipment here at Harding?”
“This is cool to be able to learn a skill or work with our hands, instead of sitting in class all day!”
“I am now excited about attending Harding next year and I hope that I get me letter in the mail saying that I am in Harding’s automotive program.”

“Thank you Mr. Rattley for inviting me! It was great seeing our middle school students so excite what Harding has to offer. I enjoyed walking around seeing Harding students engaged with the middle school students, too. I enjoyed my visit.” – School Board Member Thelma Byers-Bailey, Esq. District 2 Representative

What did middle school counselors think?
“Thank you for hosting us again this year! Our students’ enjoyed themselves and I have had 2 two students that are planning to have a conversation with their parents about changing their magnet choice to attend Harding’s magnet next year.”

What did industry partners think?
“Thank you for inviting me again to this event. I think that it is very important start early with exposing kids to opportunities within the trade and industry because it helps to break down the stereotype of the construction and manufacturing industries. We actively looking for talented and innovating young adults that are eager to look a skill and our trade.”

Middle Schools Attended:
-Martin Luther King
-Eastway Middle School
-Westerly Hills
-Reid Park

International Baccalaureate prepares students for diverse careers 

Learning questions as well as answers
International Baccalaureate prepares students for diverse careers 

Sisters Sharon, Stesha and Sheila Doku graduated from Myers Park High School. The same course of study, the International Baccalaureate (IB) program, led them to take different journeys. Two are in the medical field and one practices law. Each said the program taught them to expand their thinking, find connections, solve problems and prepare for college.  

Twenty-five years ago, Myers Park High became the first public school in North Carolina to offer IB, an academically challenging program that encourages critical thinking, international awareness and open minds. Myers Park was a magnet school at the time. No longer a magnet, the school continues to offer the middle years program for grades nine and 10 and the diploma program for grades 11 and 12. Now, 15 elementary, middle and high magnet schools in CMS offer the program through school choice. 

Sharon Doku, a 2001 graduate, studied at Harvard University and Georgetown Law Center. She is an attorney for an international company in Germany who specializes in international capital markets and corporate transactions. Her work has recently taken her to Lagos, Nigeria. She credits the IB program for helping her find her niche. 

“I never wanted to become a lawyer but IB led me to it,” she said. “I studied German, spent a summer in Germany and enjoyed all the international aspects of the program. It suited me.”  

She was drawn to physics and chemistry as well. Her knowledge in those subjects helps her when she is working with clients in the biotechnology field. She recalls that being a student in the IB program was an adventure, one that required an immense amount of commitment. 

“I loved the passion the teachers displayed for the subject matter,” she said. “Because it was important to them, it became important to me.” 

Stesha Doku, who graduated in 2004, studied biomedical engineering at Duke Pratt School of Engineering. She was named a Fulbright Scholar in 2008. After completing her first year in medical school at Stanford, she began her Fulbright research at the University of New South Wales, Australia in the summer of 2009. She is an anesthesiology specialist and her hobby is designing websites.   

“Our parents are both nurses so we were exposed to the medical field at an early age. I loved science, so medicine was a good fit for me,” she said. “While in the IB program, I also learned computer science. My favorite teacher, Robert Corbin, would let me create websites and produce electronic workbooks.” 

Both women shared a memory of a combined English and social studies class that embodied the program’s purpose. 

“We would study different periods in history and simultaneously study a piece of literature from that time,” said Stesha Doku. “That class taught me to think in a more rounded way because I was learning the literacy skills within the context of what we were studying.” 

Sheila Doku graduated in 2010 and went on to study at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina Eshelman School of Pharmacy. She is a pharmacist.  

“My IB chemistry class is what set me on the pathway to my career,” she said. “I wrote a research paper in that class about pharmaceuticals and was hooked. I also received an internship with CVS and Walgreens after school and on weekends.”  

She gained self-confidence through the IB studies. 

“In English class I remember having debates and having to stand up to say what you thought about a passage,” she said. “Myers Park felt like a college campus and the classes were difficult. When I attended college the classes didn’t seem as hard but it’s because I was well prepared.” 

The program connected her learning to the real world in many ways. 

“I was reading a book about Morocco and was then set up with a Moroccan pen pal,” she said. “We also held international days where different booths were set up and we would learn about cultures and their foods. It really expanded my thinking.” 

Myers Park has continued to teach IB students to develop strong communication skills, to become adept at sharing their ideas and to justify their thinking through writing and oral presentations.  

“Students in the program become a part of a close-knit learning community,” said mathematics teacher Michelle Krummel. “At Myers Park, teachers meet monthly to receive training and share information about the program and its activities.” 

Krummel has attended two three-day workshops specific to her subject area provided by the International Baccalaureate Organization. She said the workshops provided her with an opportunity to connect with and learn from other teachers around the world. 

Krummel’s students see the benefits of IB. Eleventh-grader Duncan Pickett said he is learning such life skills as time management. 

“Scheduling and planning are things I need to do well,” Duncan said. “There are days I have band practice and long-term projects I have to complete. To get it all done, I need to set priorities so I can stay on track.”