“Western Carolina University really began to produce teachers to educate the children of the mountains. And from that moment ‘til now, education has been a focus, and we have been really good at it,” Belcher says in the accompanying video.
It’s no accident that the NC Center for the Advancement of Teaching – which provides professional development for North Carolina teachers – is just across the road from Western Carolina’s campus, for instance.
Belcher welcomes a mandate from the NC General Assembly for several state universities to create “lab schools” where their schools of education will implement innovative K-12 teaching methods.
So Western will partner with the Jackson County Schools to open a lab school next fall. The school will offer great opportunity for its students, Belcher says, but also for students at the university and beyond.
“It’s going to be about our students in teacher-prep programs working with those students. And it gives us an opportunity to work with schools and their teachers and our professors to do some very innovative things,” he says.
“As we come up with those innovations, we can take those and emulate them in other school system settings.
“We’re looking at this as an opportunity for us to be cutting edge in a lot of ways, and to take what we learn here into our teacher-preparation programs and make a huge difference in schools from all parts of this area,” Belcher says.