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Watson College News

Sabrina Hill-Black Provides Virgo Update to NCGA Legislative Committee

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Sabrina Hill-Black was one of six education leaders invited to share highlights and challenges at North Carolina’s recently created Lab Schools with members of the North Carolina General Assembly Joint Appropriations Committee on Education in March. Hill-Black is principal of D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy. The K-8 school, opened in partnership with UNCW in July 2018, currently serves over 200 students in downtown Wilmington. The NCGA legislative meeting was held March 28 in Raleigh.

“We emphasize teaching the whole child, and as we say, ‘D.C. Virgo, where families come to school together,’” Hill-Black said. She shared highlights including Virgo’s engaged learning environment, supportive leadership and a faculty-in-residence program that bridges resources of the Watson College of Education, UNCW and D.C. Virgo.

“When you come to our school, you can sense learning and engagement,” she said. “Whether it’s hands-on problem-based learning or visiting our Action-Based Learning Lab where students incorporate movement breaks into instruction, our 214 students are engaged, active and learning.”

Hill-Black described the school’s weekly Support Team meetings, designed to foster shared leadership among university faculty and leadership, school leaders, school administration and community members.

“During these meetings, we share ideas and innovations such as STEM leadership, outdoors education, innovation practices and wrap-around services,” Hill-Black said. “I work with the university partners to frame the agenda, and we work through practical issues such as professional development, classroom walkthrough observation and support, student recruitment efforts and human resources issues.”

She described the faculty-in-residence partnership as an opportunity to reimagine how professional knowledge and resources from schools and the university can intersect to create a richer learning environment. Projects this year have focused on early childhood reading, outdoors education, behavioral support and middle grade social studies instructional strategies.

Challenges shared with the legislative committee include the sustainability of financial support and lost instructional time due to Hurricane Florence. Human resource alignment and time demands accompanying the new university-school partnership structure are also challenges the school is currently working through.

Other presenters at the NCGA legislative committee meeting were:

  • Robin Groce, assistant dean, Appalachian Academy at Middle Fork (Appalachian State University)
  • Tracy Cole, principal, East Carolina University Community School
  • Christina O’Connor, co-director Moss Street Partnership School (UNC Greensboro)
  • Pamela Broome, principal, Niner University Elementary (UNC Charlotte)
  • Kim K. Winter, dean and professor, The Catamount School (Western Carolina University)

For more information on D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy, visit the Virgo website.