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With the year-round schools already in full swing and the traditional 10-month schools about to start, back to school season is here. There are lunches to pack, homework to check, scads of paperwork to fi ll out and the school buses are back on the road.

While the students are hard at work getting back into the groove, the Cumberland County School System has some interesting things in the works that are aimed at making life better for everyone. With everything from a new early-college program to improved technology and getting ready for a new curriculum next year, there is a lot going into making sure Cumberland County students are well prepared for the future.

Dr. Theresa Perry, assistant superintendent for communications of Cumberland County Schools, is excited about what this school year holds, for both students and teachers.

Cumberland County Schools Superintendant Dr. Frank Till is wasting no time in fostering camaraderie and making sure that this year’s faculty and staff are on the same page. He spent time this summer speaking with each principal to determine their plan for success this coming year, and now he is reaching out to the entire system to bring them together as the school year gets rolling. It starts with a big event at the Crown covering a variety of topics that will affect the school system this year, according to Perry.

One of the many things that parents and students (and teachers too) can look forward to this year is the new wireless capabilities in the buildings.

“The Race to the Top grant has allowed us an opportunity to initiate wireless capabilities in our buildings and provide access to laptops for teachers and students,” said Perry. “It will give teachers an opportunity to expand teaching tools for students and give students hands-on opportunities with technology. It is going to be fantastic for both teachers and students.”

While Cumberland County has gotten pretty creative in reaching out to meet the needs of its older students with things like the Schools of Choice programs, the Fuller Performance Learning Center and Cross Creek Early College High School, it is adding yet another program. The Cumberland International Early College High School opened this year. Currently housed at E.E. Smith High School, it is slated to move to Fayetteville State University Campus next year, according to Perry.

“The focus for this particular college was an initiative of Lt. Gov. (Walter)Dalton. It has a focus on international diplomacy, culture and language,” said Perry. “It is a very different focus in terms of preparing students internationally.”

Arabic, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese are being offered as language choices.

Next year, North Carolina joins the Common Core Standards Initiative, along with all but five states in the lower 48. The curriculum will be changing for the better.

At www.corestandards.org/about-the-standards, the program is described as a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Offi cers (CCSSO). The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.

“We will implement that curriculum next school year, so we will spend this school year really training teachers,” said Perry. “The beauty of it is that it very much streamlines the curriculum and allows teachers to go deeper with fewer goals and objectives there instead of having numerous goals and objectives. It really streamlines it so teachers can go deeper but in fewer areas. I think it will be a very 08-24-11-back-to-school.jpggood opportunity for teachers to really make students have a deep understanding of the content area, particularly for students in our community who are transient and often move to other states during their educational careers that there can be some continuity as they do. That is very exciting.”

To find out more about what is going on in Cumberland County Schools visit www.ccs.k12.nc.us.

Photo: With everything from a new early-college program to improved technology and getting ready for a new curriculum next year, there is a lot going into making sure Cumberland County students are well prepared for the future.

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