Navigating DPS

Few things stress out modern parents like sending their children off to school. Parents wonder, “Will my child fit in? Will he make friends? Will she be able to sit still long enough to do her work? Will the school challenge my child?” We are fortunate in Durham to have so many choices. With those choices, however, often comes bewilderment as we attempt to sort through the schools available to find a good match for our children. This article will attempt to help you choose the right school for your child. The first section deals with things to consider as you prepare to send your child off to kindergarten, middle school, or high school. Section 2 explains the application process at DPS and answers such questions as, “What is a walk zone? Can I apply to both a magnet school and a year-round school?” Section 3 gives individual school profiles for all the schools in DPS. Happy searching!

Section 1: How do I begin?

When choosing a school for your child, above all you need to consider your child’s temperament. Is your child energetic, outgoing, painfully shy, or a kinesthetic learner? Just as people have different personalities, so too do schools. Your child may do best in a small environment, in which case you should consider one of the Montessori schools, some of the small neighborhood schools, or one of the specialized middle or high schools. Keep in mind, however, that even large schools can feel small and intimate with the right teachers and administration. Conversely, your child might be energetic and someone who needs a great deal of stimulation. If this is the case, check out some of the magnet school programs. Above all, be sure to visit your neighborhood school, as each one has a different focus.

If you know nothing about the schools in DPS, start by looking at the list of schools in Section 3 of this article and choosing three or four that you think might be right for your child. Then, go visit the schools you are interested in. Think of your child and envision him in one of the classrooms or on the playground. Read the testimonials for the schools on this site and write us at Strong.Durham.Schools@gmail.com to speak to one of the authors. Over 90% of the respondents indicated that they would be more than happy to speak to parents of students interested in choosing their school. These parents (and students and teachers) can give you the inside scoop on the schools you’re considering and can help you discern whether or not the school would be a good fit for your child.

Section 2: Navigating DPS

Durham Public Schools has several different kinds of schools. The process for applying to these schools varies. Neighborhood schools are the base schools. To find out your base school, see the DPS website and click on the link for elementary, middle, or high schools. Call DPS if it looks like your address is close to a border. Some of the neighborhood schools have a specific focus, such as a science- or art-based curriculum. Southwest Elementary, for example, offers a Spanish-immersion program. Check out your districted school to see what kinds of programs are offered. Enrollment at your child’s neighborhood school is guaranteed and no special application is required. Year-round schools (there are three at the elementary level and two at the middle-school level) operate year round with frequent breaks. All five of these schools operate on the same schedule. Unlike the year-round schools in Wake County, these schools only have one track of students, meaning that all students (and teachers!) are present at the same time. Students are in school for the same number of days as students in schools that operate on the traditional calendar. You must apply to these schools. Magnet schools offer an array of curricula and programs designed to appeal to different kinds of learners. Each of the magnet schools offers a different program of study, so you should check out each one in Section 3 of this article if you are interested in them. You must apply to the magnet schools; enrollment is determined by lottery.

To enroll your child in your neighborhood school, you will need to visit the school with proof of residence and some medical records. Contact the school in question to see how this is handled.

DPS’s year-round schools require a separate application due at the end of January. To access this application, go to the DPS website. Holt and Easley year-round elementary schools both have assigned attendance zones (although students not living in those zones may petition DPS to attend), while Pearsontown Elementary does not. Similarly, Chewning Middle School does have a specific attendance zone while Rogers-Herr does not. See Section 3 of this article for descriptions of the programs offered at these schools. Many parents like the vacation flexibility that the year-round schools give them, and appreciate the fact that their children’s academic skills don’t atrophy during the long summer break that the traditional schools offer.

Durham Public Schools currently has ten magnet schools. For a description of these schools, read Section 3 of this article. In order for your child to attend a magnet school, you must send in a separate application, even if you live in the priority zone. Preference is given to children who have siblings attending the school and to those who live in the attendance zone. All admissions are controlled by lottery. If not all the spaces are taken in the first lottery, a second lottery is held. To access the application, see the DPS website. The application form asks you to rank your choices. Some of the magnet schools have very few spots available (such as the Montessori schools). Families rarely get into their second choice schools, so consider this as you weigh which school you wish to rank first. You may apply to both a year-round school and a magnet program. Keep in mind that separate applications are required for each. DPS will notify you of whether or not your child was chosen for the magnet and year-round schools by mail.

Section 3: School Descriptions


Elementary Schools


Bethesda is a neighborhood school located in east Durham. From its website: “At Bethesda, education is viewed as an attainable goal, but a never-ending process. We provide students an opportunity to cultivate acquired knowledge through direct instruction, benchmark testing, and criterion-reference testing. This knowledge is most beneficial when they apply it to directive instruction from the teacher. Students must believe they can enhance their lifestyles by steadfast learning through Bethesda’s inviting school concept. This concept fosters a partnership with school, parents, community, and Central Services.” Bethesda’s website

Burton Magnet is an International Baccalaureate school that puts an emphasis on global studies and foreign languages (Spanish, Chinese, and French). You must send in a magnet school application form to have your child attend Burton. From Burton’s website: “Burton Geo-World is one of eight public elementary schools in North Carolina that has earned the prestigious International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP) designation. As a PYP school, Burton teachers are trained in a particular curriculum framework that focuses on the understanding based on personal experience. Burton is a global studies/foreign language magnet which offers program components designed to foster within students a global perspective of society and culture, a basic preparation for the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme, and a meaningful understanding of world geography. Unique program features include daily instruction in French, Spanish or Chinese, ongoing development of research skills, global study of geography and current events, and student television network (WGEO) which cultivates broadcasting, technical, and publishing skills.” Burton’s website

C. C. Spaulding is a neighborhood school that emphasizes environmental education. From the website: “C.C. Spaulding is a place where the whole school community of students, parents, teachers, support staff, and principal will actively participate in learning and encouraging everyone to build on strengths in the pursuit of excellence. The biosphere theme of environmental studies will create an awareness, respect, and understanding of the child’s relationship to the earth and of all living things.” C. C. Spaulding’s website

Club Boulevard Humanities Magnet is magnet school with a priority walk zone. You must send in a magnet-school application to have your child attend this school. Club Blvd. emphasizes authentic literature and project-based learning. From the website: “Club Boulevard Humanities Magnet School is committed to a dynamic educational environment in which diversity and uniqueness are valued. Our school community emphasizes the development of dignity, self-esteem, and mutual respect by providing challenging, creative academic opportunities through immersion in the humanities, authentic literature, arts, and sciences.” Club Blvd.‘s website

Creekside is a neighborhood school located in southwest Durham. From Creekside’s website: “At Creekside, we are committed to providing a high-quality education to all students. We provide a positive and engaging learning environment, with high expectations for student achievement. Families are also an essential component of student success, and we strive to have ongoing communication and involvement of our families in every aspect of our school community.” Creekside’s website

E. K. Powe is a neighborhood school located in downtown Durham. From its website: “Powe has a strong Arts and Science focus that incorporates Dr. Howard Gardner’s innovative philosophy of Multiple Intelligences. Our talented faculty has been recruited from all over the country. Each faculty member is dedicated to teaching at E.K. Powe and is committed to our Soaring Into the New Millennium long-range plan.” E. K. Powe’s website

Easley Year-Round school pulls students from a priority attendance zone, but also accepts students from other areas. From the Easley website: “The Easley staff, faculty, administration, and parents believe that all children can learn, and that children learn best through active participation in a stimulating environment that builds upon diversity and the success of each student. Students are encouraged to learn and to become effective citizens in a democracy. Being a year-round school allows us to provide continuous instruction for students throughout the year.” Easley’s website

Eastway is a neighborhood school. From the Eastway website: “The faculty and staff of Eastway Elementary School understand the important role the school plays in the life and prosperity of a healthy, productive and responsible citizenry. Each student is entitled to an equal opportunity to learn and experience success in the school environment. Our effort supports our students in learning to become contributing members of society.” Eastway’s website

Eno Valley, located in the northern part of the county, is a neighborhood school. From Eno Valley’s website: “Teachers at Eno Valley Elementary strive to meet the academic, emotional, physical, and artistic needs of each learner. Teachers also implement a balanced literacy program which addresses reading, listening and speaking skills.” Eno Valley’s website

Fayetteville Street Lab School is a neighborhood school. From its website: “Fayetteville Street Lab School is a traditional K-5 school that provides a 1:17 teacher/student ratio. Teachers engage students in varied and innovative instructional techniques and strategies. Parents are an integral part of the learning process. We see parental involvement as a critical aspect of the many educational initiatives we have undertaken with our students. We implement an “Exemplary” HOSTS (Help One Student To Succeed) Reading Program which attracts volunteers from the community and the Research Triangle Park. Fayetteville Street’s website

Forest View is a neighborhood school with a science focus. From the Forest View website: “Forest View’s mission is to develop and enhance each learner’s potential, foster the growth of confident, creative problem-solvers, and promote life-long learning in a global community. Forest View is concerned with student achievement. We want all children to be challenged and to do their best.” Forest View’s website

Glenn is a neighborhood school in northeast Durham. From Glenn’s website: “Glenn Elementary is focused on the education and well-being of the whole child. As a Title I school, Glenn is committed to collaborative leadership and strong parental involvement via our Site Planning and Management Team (SPMT) in determining the most effective use of all of our school’s resources in addressing the needs of our students. Glenn is a Reading First School. As a Reading First School, Glenn receives additional support from the federal government to support and enhance reading instruction with an emphasis on the five based components of reading—phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Glenn also maintains strong support for the needs of our students through the use of Literacy Support, instructional technology, ELL services, EC services and a host of other interventions.” Glenn’s website

Hillandale is a neighborhood school located north of downtown. From Hillandale’s website: “Serving each student through commitment, caring, creativity, and continuous growth is the mission of Hillandale Elementary School. By providing a school climate that focuses on teamwork, and by setting high expectations for all members of the school community, we accomplish our mission. It is our goal to provide all students at Hillandale with the highest quality instruction so that each student is able to achieve at his/her highest potential while becoming good citizens and lifelong learner.” Hillandale’s website

Holt Year-Round Elementary is a year-round school that has a priority attendance zone, although students from other districts may petition to attend there. From the Holt website: “Holt Year-Round Elementary is committed to maintaining a safe and nurturing environment in which all children are encouraged to develop a positive attitude towards themselves and learning. We believe in creating lifelong learners by providing opportunities where students explore and investigate the world around them.” Holt’s website

Hope Valley is a neighborhood school. From Hope Valley’s website: “Hope Valley Elementary School is a community of learners organized around students and the work that they do. Teachers are leaders and inventors of high-content, quality work that is challenging, interesting, and satisfying. Students engage in, and persist with, this work and learn what teachers, parents, and the community value and expect. The principal is a leader of leaders. Success is celebrated on an ongoing basis.” Hope Valley’s website

Lakewood is a neighborhood school. From Lakewood’s website: “Vision: Working together, to: Believe, Achieve, Succeed. Mission: To create an inspiring environment where all children will excel.” Lakewood’s website

Little River is a neighborhood school located in northwest Durham. From the Little River website: “The mission of Little River Elementary School is to provide an environment that values and educates the total child. Little River School believes strongly in school-based decision making, of which parents, teachers, support staff, and administrators are a part. Our SBDM Team has invested extensive hours reviewing programmatic initiatives, evaluating student achievement data, investigating program effectiveness, and determining areas impacting student achievement that still need improvement.” Little River’s website

Mangum is a neighborhood school located in north Durham. From Mangum’s website: “The elementary years are critical for establishing a solid, educational foundation. At Mangum we are all committed to providing a positive, safe, learning environment that allows students to develop the skills and acquire the knowledge needed to be successful learners. Students, parents, and teachers are partners in this learning process. Through sound decision making and appropriate risk-taking, students will grow physically, emotionally, and academically.” Mangum’s website

Merrick-Moore is a neighborhood school. From the website: “Merrick-Moore is a traditional K-5 exciting, creative community of learning. Students are challenged to develop the life-long academic skills and social characteristics needed for success in middle and secondary school and beyond. We believe that we provide a supportive, well-structured, and well organized environment through uniform policies for homework, discipline, promotion, and communicating with parents. We further believe that every child, regardless of assessed or presumed ability, has the right to be given the opportunity to learn skills and ideas appropriate to grade placement and the North Carolina Standard Course of Study.” Merrick-Moore’s website

Morehead Montessori is a magnet school located south of downtown with a priority attendance zone. You must send in a magnet-school application to have your child attend this school. From Morehead’s website: “Morehead Montessori School, through a partnership with students, families, and community, will promote academic, social, emotional, and physical growth of all students using developmentally appropriate hands-on activities to cultivate strengths and celebrate differences. Montessori teachers help children become independent and self-directed in their learning by giving enough assistance to guide and challenge, while allowing ample room for individual discovery. The Montessori model assumes that all children want to learn, and it respects the individual’s style and pace of learning.” Morehead’s website

Oak Grove is a neighborhood school located in the eastern part of the county. From Oak Grove’s website: “The Oak Grove elementary faculty and staff believe that all students can learn and make continuous progress in our community. The Oak Grove faculty and staff set high expectations that provide each student the opportunity to make significant efforts to meet and exceed educational goals. Oak Grove elementary is a caring, diverse community creating life long learners. Teachers strive to ensure that all students experience growth through creative instructional strategies reaching their maximum potential.” Oak Grove’s website

Parkwood is a neighborhood school in the southern part of the county. From the Parkwood site: “Parkwood Elementary School is a traditional K-5 elementary school nestled in the Parkwood community of southwest Durham. We concentrate on providing a comprehensive, high-quality education within a caring and nurturing environment. Teachers work collaboratively with peers and parents to accommodate learning differences of each student. Academic, social, emotional, and physical development are key components of the instructional process.” Parkwood’s website

Pearsontown Year Round is a year-round school in southwest Durham. Pearsontown does not have a priority attendance zone, meaning that students from all over Durham may attend as long as they are admitted. You must send in a year-round application form to have your child attend Pearsontown. From the website: “The Pearsontown Elementary School community is committed to creating a continuous year-round learning environment that is holistic and hands-on in its approach. We inspire students to pledge their hearts to greater understanding of the world; their hands to quality work and service; and their heads to lifelong learning. Pearsontown students are therefore empowered to become critical thinkers, self-directed lifelong learners, quality producers, collaborative workers, community contributors, and responsible citizens.” Pearsontown’s website

R.N. Harris Integrated Arts/Core Knowledge Magnet School is a magnet school that promotes the belief that “all children are artists and that art can be used to strengthen all learning.” R. N. Harris also follows the Core Knowledge curriculum developed by Ed Hirsch. You must send in a magnet-school application in order for your child to attend this school. From the website: “At R.N. Harris we provide a safe, stimulating, and nurturing environment that promotes high academic and creative achievement, fosters the development of successful and independent students, and prepares them to be productive members of a worldwide community. We establish an atmosphere that promotes a desire to become lifelong learners and contributing citizens, founded on basic skills and a sense of worth, dignity, positive self-esteem, and respect for others. We accomplish this through a child-centered teaching approach which addresses the needs, interests, and learning styles of children. We capitalize on children’s natural curiosity by encouraging them to explore and discover in an environment that enhances development of their unique creative talents and skills.” R. N. Harris’s website

Spring Valley is a new neighborhood school that opened in north east Durham in 2009. Spring Valley’s website

Southwest is a neighborhood school in southwest Durham. Southwest students may opt to be in the two-way language immersion program (classes are taught in Spanish and English). Students in this program are selected by lottery once admitted to Southwest. From the Southwest website: “Southwest Elementary School is a community of learners organized around students and the work that they do. Teachers are leaders and inventors of high content, quality work that is challenging, interesting, and satisfying. Students will engage and persist with this work and will learn what teachers, parents, and the community value and expect. The school will maintain and nurture a climate that promotes collaboration, respect, and support among its major players (teachers, assistants, support staff, parents, students and community). The principal is a leader of leaders. Major decisions involving climate, curriculum, use of allotment, and budget are reached through a process in which the staff and parents’ input and views are considered. Success is experienced and celebrated on an on-going basis.” Southwest’s website

W. G. Pearson Gifted and Talented Magnet is a magnet school that has a priority attendance zone. Students must apply to attend this school. From the website: “The gifted and talented magnet school program is founded on the belief that all students possess gifts and talents that need to be identified, nurtured, and rewarded. It is the responsibility of educators and parents to identify these gifts and talents and to provide an educational program that develops them. Because the gifted and talented magnet school addresses the gifts and talents of all children, there are no performance measures, auditions, or tests that need to be passed before a child is accepted into the school. Some children may have gifts and talents in one or two areas, others, in a wider variety of areas. The gifted and talented magnet school is open to any child whose parents would like for him/her to participate in the program. The philosophy of the gifted and talented magnet school is put into effect through the structure of the curriculum and through instructional techniques. The curriculum design advocates a ‘choice’ model for students and parents. It provides them with options and alternatives for learning and is designed to accommodate varying types of gifts, talents, strengths, needs, and interests.” W. G. Pearson’s website

George Watts Montessori is a Montessori magnet school with a priority attendance zone. Students must apply to attend this school. From the Watts website: The Montessori model assumes that all children want to learn, and it respects the individual’s style and pace of learning. Montessori classroom communities operate on the principle of freedom within limits, translating into respect for self, others, and the environment. It features: independent and self-directed learning; prepared environment; multi-age groupings.” Watts’s website

Y. E. Smith is a neighborhood school whose curriculum is based on the Design Technology Curriculum used in the British primary schools. It is also a “Museum School” that has close links with local museums. From the website: “Smith’s program focuses on Children’s Engineering. By applying the ideas of science and using the tools of technology, children design and construct products, systems, and environments that solve problems they encounter daily. Our students are engaged in purposeful use of materials, tools, and technology to conduct scientific investigations on a daily basis. Technology is infused throughout the curriculum, and word-processing skills, databases, and spreadsheets are routinely used as children organize and display their work. Internet access from all instructional areas allows regular access to — and communication with — the world at-large. On-line projects and communication with experts connect our students with the global community. Integrated project work is collaboratively planned and flows back and forth between classrooms and the well-equipped Science, Technology, and Media Labs.” Y. E. Smith’s website

Middle Schools


Brogden is a neighborhood school located just north of downtown. From the Brogden website: “Brogden Middle School’s vision/philosophy is to foster the community towards life long learning, thereby challenging each student to reach his/her full potential. We offers a wide variety of academic and extracurricular activities all with the goal of developing self-disciplined and innovative thinkers.” Brogden’s website

Carrington is a neighborhood school located in north Durham. From Carrington’s website: “The mission of Carrington Middle School is to bring students, teachers, parents, and community together to provide a safe environment where all students make continuous progress academically, socially, and developmentally. We believe that: All children can learn and make continuous progress; Education is a life-long process that provides enjoyment and enrichment; Classroom instruction should be meaningful and varied in order to meet the needs of all students; Students should be equipped with academic competence, the ability to progress independently, and the capability to live and work cooperatively; Learning is more than subject mastery; it is a process that is driven by reading, reasoning, communicating, and creating; Students should have opportunities for career exploration and the skills necessary to function in a rapidly changing technological society; Students should be provided with the knowledge and skills to make responsible choices.” Carrington’s website

Chewning Year Round is a year-round middle school. Chewning has a priority attendance zone, but accepts students from other districts. You must apply to send your child to this school. From Chewning’s website: “Our rural setting in Northeast Durham, with over 20 acres of buildings and athletic fields, creates a perfect atmosphere for a safe and nurturing environment for middle-school students. Our diverse student body and faculty encourages an atmosphere of individuality and cultural pride. The academic program focuses on an enriched and differentiated curriculum, higher-level thinking skills, student-generated products, social-emotional needs of adolescents, and a safe, orderly school.” Chewning’s website

Durham School of the Arts is actually a secondary school, in that it serves students from grades 6-12. DSA is located in downtown and is a magnet school. You must apply to send your child to this school. From DSA’s website: “The mission of Durham School of the Arts is to help students from diverse backgrounds to fully realize their individual academic and creative capacities through a rigorous educational program emphasizing visual and performing arts. Our goal is to support students throughout their seven years at Durham School of the Arts to reach their graduation day prepared to take on the challenges of college, career, or specialized training. In addition to academics, arts, and technological skills, we know that it is our job to prepare students to be creative problem-solvers, team players, effective communicators, and good citizens.” DSA’s website

Githens is a neighborhood school that features a “school within a school” in that each hall has its own assistant principal and guidance counselor. From the Githens website: “The students, parents, and teachers have worked diligently to make Githens a very special place. Each of our halls has its own assistant principal and guidance counselor. This ‘school within a school’ environment helps students and parents feel more connected to the school. This type of innovation is just one example of what makes Githens special. Our students also have some of the most extensive course offerings in Durham. Geometry, Strings, Desktop Publishing, and Graphic Arts are just some of the courses that make the Githens experience unique.” Githens’s website

Lakewood Montessori is Durham’s newest middle school. It primarily serves students from Morehead and Watts, but also has a priority attendance zone. You must apply to have your child attend this school. From the website: “Instruction is individualized, with students actively involved in purposeful learning. Curriculum areas include: social sciences, science, geography, language arts, second language and grammar, mathematics, practical management, and fine arts. Students will learn through discovery, including having their own garden at the school and participating in community service projects.” Lakewood Montessori’s website

Lakeview is a secondary school, in that it serves students from grades 6-12. It is an alternative school intended for children who have a history of chronic behavior problems or have received long-term suspensions. From the DPS website: “Lakeview School is an alternative program designed for students in grades 6-12 who have a history of chronic misbehavior and/or have received long-term suspension. There are seven different components of the school developed to address the specific needs of our students. The staff works with students and their families to design curriculum and personal behavior plans based on each individual student’s situation. Students remain in the designated program for a determined period of time or until they meet stated goals and then return to their home school or a less restrictive environment.”

Lowe’s Grove is a neighborhood school in southwest Durham. From their website: “Lowe’s Grove Middle School provides a comprehensive program that embraces the middle school philosophy. We provide a nurturing environment that prepares students for the transition from middle to high school. Students are given the opportunity to explore various curricula in vocational and extended core classes. We provide a safe, supportive, and challenging environment where all children learn and whose graduates are capable of achieving a balance between their self-actualization and their functioning as a valued member of society.” Lowe’s Grove’s website

Neal is a neighborhood school. From Neal’s website: “Neal is a site school for the federal 21st Century After-school Community Learning Center. This program provides exciting and effective enrichment for participating students. Neal also is a pilot school for the DPS Pre-College partnership with North Carolina Central University. Seventh and 8th grade students participate in rigorous courses to prepare them for advanced level work in high school.” Neal’s website

Rogers-Herr Year Round is a year-round school. It does not have a priority attendance zone, and students from all over the county may apply. You must apply to send your child to this school. From the Rogers-Herr website: “Motto: Today’s Challenge – Tomorrow’s Future. The instructional program at Rogers-Herr is comprehensive and wide-ranging. Our teaching staff uses the strengths and cultures of the children with powerful learning activities that integrate a variety of subjects into a common set of themes. Rogers-Herr serves a wide variety of students in collaborative, as well as pull-out, models. The core curriculum is provided in a cohesive team setting that uses a variety of means to excite student learning and strengthen basic skills. The elective program is varied and offers students exploration in careers, computing, band, art, chorus, and drama.” Rogers-Herr’s website

Shepard International Baccalaureate Middle Years Programme Magnet is a magnet school. You must apply for your child to attend Shepard. From Shepard’s website: “Our mission is to provide a premiere educational environment where all students acquire knowledge, skills, and values necessary to live enriched lives as productive members in a global community. Our goal is to support an integrated studies program, centered on our magnet themes—forensics and law related education, technology, and foreign languages. In response to the unique and changing needs of students in the young adolescent stages of development, Shepard Magnet Middle School students will be challenged to question, explore, achieve, succeed, belong, participate, and think analytically. We are committed to creating a school environment that responds to the academic, social, and personal needs of our children. Commitment, Academics, Responsibility, and Excellence (CARE) summarize our focus.” Shepard’s website

W. G. Pearson Magnet Middle is a small school with approximately 350 students. W. G. Pearson focuses on the arts. You must apply for your child to attend this school. From the website: “The goal of the instructional program at W.G. Pearson is to increase student achievement across the curriculum. Our core curriculum is taught by teams of teachers, who collaborate to provide the highest quality instruction and work with parents, administrators, and counselors to make sure every child succeeds. Teachers also collaborate to insure that technology and information skills are integrated across the curriculum and that we meet the needs of 21st century learners.” W. G. Pearson’s website

High Schools

City of Medicine Academy is a small magnet high school that provides project-based learning and real-world internships for its students. You must apply to have your child attend this school. From the website: “The City of Medicine Academy is designed for highly motivated Durham high school students who are ready to undertake serious academic work and career-related internships. It is expected that these students will be able to enter college with advanced credits and earn industry standard certification.” City of Medicine Academy’s website

Durham School of the Arts is actually a secondary school, in that it serves students from grades 6-12. DSA is located in downtown and is a magnet school. You must apply to send your child to this school. From DSA’s website: “The mission of Durham School of the Arts is to help students from diverse backgrounds to fully realize their individual academic and creative capacities through a rigorous educational program emphasizing visual and performing arts. Our goal is to support students throughout their seven years at Durham School of the Arts to reach their graduation day prepared to take on the challenges of college, career, or specialized training. In addition to academics, arts, and technological skills, we know that it is our job to prepare students to be creative problem-solvers, team players, effective communicators, and good citizens.” DSA’s website

J. D. Clement Early College High School is a magnet program that offers students the chance to graduate with an Associate’s Degree or enough credits to enter a four-year liberal arts college as a junior. This school focuses on students for whom transition to post secondary education is challenging. You must apply to have your child attend this school. From the website: “The school’s small size (approximately 400 students) will provide the opportunity for individualized instruction. Students will graduate with a high school diploma, plus up to two years of college credit toward a bachelor’s degree. By creating a structure in which the high school years are compressed with the number of years required to receive college degrees, the Early College High School will be centered around improving graduation rates and better preparing students for entry into high-skills careers.” J. D. Clement’s website

Hillside is an International Baccalaureate school. It has a priority attendance zone, but other students may apply to attend. From Hillside’s website: “Hillside provides a comprehensive instructional program to meet the demands of its students. The school offers a wide range of Advanced Placement courses and the International Baccalaureate Programme. The Science department maintains an active relationship with several Research Triangle facilities. The school is also the site for a specialized Business and Finance Academy. Students may study electronics, food service, cosmetology, and child care through the Workforce Development courses, as well as traditional business classes. Highly specialized or advanced courses which may not be available to most high school students are taught electronically through the Distance Learning Lab and the Virtual High School. The Arts Department enjoys a fine reputation, and Hillside students have performed nationally and internationally. For the most part, classes at the school follow the traditional six-period daily schedule, although a few specialized classes are on a block schedule.” Hillside’s website

Hillside New Tech is a small school located within the Hillside High School building. Its focus is on project-based learning to prepare students for careers in engineering and the sciences. Seniors must complete an internship. From the website: “The cornerstone of New Tech High is project-based learning. Instead of handing out daily assignments, teachers assign periodic projects with different components. Components may include a written essay and a digital project such as a Website, PowerPoint presentation, or photo essay. Finally, students are asked to present their work orally to their classmates, teachers, community and business leaders, and parents. Students work on these projects either individually, with a partner, or in a group.” Hillside New Tech’s website

Holton Career and Resource Center is a new school located in northeast central Durham. Holton offers students the opportunity to participate in workplace training in a new facility. Courses offered at the career center include: Barbering; Construction Trades – Carpentry, Electrical Trades, HVAC, Plumbing; Small Engine Repair – Certification opportunity in two-stroke and four-stroke engines; Landscape Construction & Turf Grass Management – Design and maintenance of athletic fields, gardens, parks, and grounds; Visualization & Modeling; Computer Engineering – Cisco Academy; Small Business & Entrepreneurship – Skills for owning and operating a business. Students register for Career Center Courses during their regular registration process at their base schools. Holton’s website

Jordan is a neighborhood school. From the Jordan website: “Charles E. Jordan High School is a diverse school rich in traditions of academic and extra-curricular excellence. Jordan students are encouraged to seek excellence, and teachers utilize a variety of teaching techniques to address a variety of learning styles. Another important aspect of the academic program is the availability of a wide variety of Advanced Placement courses. Jordan students can choose from more than 17 AP courses. The school features career pathways in Agriscience/Biotechnology and Commercial and Artistic Production. Other components of the Jordan community that have won national and state awards include the marching band, show choir, DECA (marketing and business), FFA, FBLA, the foreign language program, and the school newspaper.” Jordan’s website

Lakeview is a secondary school, in that it serves students from grades 6-12. It is an alternative school intended for children who have a history of chronic behavior problems or have received long-term suspensions. From the DPS website: “Lakeview School is an alternative program designed for students in grades 6-12 who have a history of chronic misbehavior and/or have received long-term suspension. There are seven different components of the school developed to address the specific needs of our students. The staff works with students and their families to design curriculum and personal behavior plans based on each individual student’s situation. Students remain in the designated program for a determined period of time or until they meet stated goals and then return to their home school or a less restrictive environment.”

Middle College High School is housed at Durham Technical Community College and gives students the opportunity to graduate with an Associate’s Degree by enrolling directly in college courses. From the website: “The mission of the Middle College High School at Durham Technical Community College, a community characterized by diversity, high expectations and support for learning, is to enable students to accelerate their program of study and receive higher education credit, by providing an academically rigorous experience in a smaller and collegiate environment. Central to the mission of Middle College High School at Durham Technical Community College is to enable students to accelerate their course of study, thus allowing them to enroll in DTCC courses. Students may take DTCC courses as their elective requirements; OR when they ‘place out’ of MCHS core courses, which allows them to take the next level course with DTCC.” Middle College High School’s website

Northern is a neighborhood school that offers five career pathways: Sports & Entertainment Marketing; Business Technologies; Construction Technologies; Public Service; and Transportation Systems. From Northern’s website: “Our goal is to set high expectations for all students and to prepare them to learn and think in a rapidly changing world. Northern employs a wide variety of academic learning strategies to address a variety of learning styles and needs. Northern High School has been ranked continually in the top 5% of the nation’s best high schools by Newsweek for since 2004. Northern provides a comprehensive instructional program which balances offerings in academic, vocational, and performing arts courses. We offer required and elective courses in the Arts, Career-Technical Education, English, Foreign Languages including Spanish, French, Latin and German, Health and Physical Education, Junior ROTC, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies.” Northern’s website

Performance Learning Center is a small school located at Northgate Mall. From the PLC website: “The PLC is for students who need a different type of education [in that]: the students are self-taught with teachers available for help when needed; advising happens daily, teachers help with goal setting and planning; there is a morning motivation weekly activity where students lead inspirational session; each student is assigned a workspace with a computer during each class.” PLC’s website

Riverside is a neighborhood school that offers an Engineering career pathway. From Riverside’s website: “The primary focus of the school is student academic achievement. The school operates on a 4×4 block schedule with students take 4 classes each semester. Riverside is also the site of the district’s Engineering Technology pathway. Students in the engineering program take courses in design, engineering, electronics, material processing, and computer applications. Additional course offerings include computer programming, scientific visualization, network engineering, and computer engineering. All students complete an internship during their junior or senior year. Advanced Placement (College Board) classes are offered in English, US History, European History, biology, chemistry, physics, calculus (AB & BC) and computer science. A variety of electives are offered through the Workforce Development Department in areas such as: Network Administration, Business Law, Foods and Nutrition, Parenting and Child Development, Clothing Design, Drafting (CAD), and Marketing.” Riverside’s website

Southern is a neighborhood school located in the southern part of the county. From Southern’s website: “We strive to create a student-centered, comprehensive school plan that is culturally diverse, print-rich, academically stimulating, motivating, and dedicated to the developmental needs of the total child. Although school is a place where student achievement is measured by standardized tests, it must also provide a way for students to receive rewards for their multi-dimensional intelligence. Educators should evaluate more than linguistically based instruments of teaching and learning.” Southern’s website

Southern School of Engineering is a small school housed within Southern High School. It is open to any student who will be at Southern in the 9th grade. From the website: “Southern High School of Engineering provides each student with the physical, intellectual, emotional and social skills needed to compete in a 21st century global market.” Southern School of Engineering’s website

from Elizabeth Tolman on Wednesday, May 12, 2010