MONROE – Brad Breedlove not only serves as chief academic officer for Union County Public Schools, but he’s also the parent of a high school senior going through the college application process.
Breedlove and his wife have picked up a few pointers as they helped find scholarship opportunities for their child.
His best advice to parents: “Have a good calendar because there are lots of due dates. It’s important to stay on task.”
Breedlove joined Superintendent Andrew Houlihan and a panel of other administrators Feb. 10 for a Facebook Live broadcast on academic resources available to UCPS parents. It’s part of the district’s “Connect and Chat” series.
Casey Rimmer, innovation director for UCPS, said many digital resources are located in the EmpowerED Family Portal, which can be accessed through the “parent” tab of the district and school websites.
“It’s really a portal for students and parents to use together as a family,” Rimmer said.
The portal has start-up pages for elementary, middle and high school that can be bookmarked on a home computer or personal device. It also has all of the resources available to children, including myON Reader.
Rimmer described myON as a personalized reading experience with audio and eBooks.
“It’s kind of like your favorite streaming platform,” she said, noting it makes recommendations based on what students have read and their reading levels.
The district also has digital tools for math, including Dreambox for elementary school and IXL Math for middle school.
Rimmer recommends parents wanting to get more involved with their children’s education start with teacher webpages on the school website.
The broadcast also served as an opportunity to remind parents of some upcoming deadlines.
Registration for school choice for the 2020-21 year spans Feb. 7 to March 31. Schools available to register for are as follows:
• High schools: Forest Hills, Monroe, Parkwood and Piedmont.
• Middle schools: East Union, Health Sciences Academy at Monroe and Parkwood.
• Elementary schools: Benton Heights, Fairview, Hemby Bridge, Marshville, Porter Ridge, Rocky River, Shiloh Valley, Walter Bickett, Waxhaw and Western Union.
“One of the aspects that our administration and our board has been very supportive of is making sure that all of our students have access to academic programming and schools that would interest them,” Houlihan said.
Breedlove mentioned the district will open the Health Sciences Academy at Monroe High School, which offers pathways into the health industry thanks to a partnership with Atrium Health.
The school offers academic pathways that explore nursing, medicine, hospital administration as well as facilities and maintenance. It’s a continuation of the Health Sciences Academy at Monroe Middle School.
While students are encouraged to enter as freshmen, other academies are set up for junior and senior years of high school and span a variety of topics. Find out more information at www.ucpscte.org.
UCPS also offers dual language immersion programs at 14 elementary schools, where children can learn course material in another language as early as kindergarten. There are 12 Spanish immersion programs and two Mandarin programs.
Over the next few weeks, eighth-graders will begin receiving copies of the Union County Program of Study, which Dan McCloskey describes as the high school rule book. Soon after, they’ll get dates for upcoming orientation nights for rising freshmen, as well as information for succeeding in high school.
“We really want to concentrate on getting everyone through that transition process smoothly and comfortably because it’s a big change going from the middle school to high school,” said McCloskey, lead high school counselor at UCPS.
Students will have the opportunity to register for high school classes through PowerSchool. Afterward, a counselor will walk students through their selections.
Jessica Garner, director of college readiness, said students can take advantage of the Naviance program to create academic plans for their home school or a school choice program to get a feel for course loads.
“If a student has taken an assessment in Naviance in seventh grade and it says your top career cluster is finance, they can choose that as a career interest and look at what pathways are available to students and which courses are in there,” Garner said. “I would encourage kids to go in there, play around and look at what is available.”
The district launched a college readiness series in the fall and will be rolling out more sessions in the spring, such as College Entrance Exams 101 on March 9, College Recruiting for Athletes on March 18 and Getting Ready for College on March 21. Most of these will be held in the evenings at the Monroe Library. Register at www.ucps.k12.nc.us/Page/6376.
The district also has a College Readiness Resource Center on Monday and Thursday evenings, as well as select Saturday afternoons in the Monroe Library for students with questions about college essays, financial aid and other topics.
Want to learn more?
Follow Union County Public Schools on Facebook to learn more about its “Connect and Chat” video series.