The 2018-2019 school year is halfway over for students and staff at the new Moss Street Partnership School, and Jessica Caudle has seen a big difference in how well her son, second-grader Jayden Butchee, is doing.

“I like that lessons are broken down, teachers are more hands-on, and students aren’t as rushed,” Caudle said. “Jayden seems happier and more confident.”

Jayden is one of 384 kindergarten through fifth-grade students at Moss Street Partnership School, which opened its doors to students in August.

Formerly Moss Street Elementary, the school is a collaboration between UNCG, Rockingham County Schools and the Moss Street community. UNCG is one of nine campuses selected by the state to improve learning in low-performing schools as part of the UNC Lab School Initiative. The school draws on resources from the UNCG campus, staff and student teachers.

“The School of Education’s long history of work in the Rockingham County Schools, Superintendent Rodney Shotwell’s enthusiasm for the partnership and the eligibility of Moss Street Elementary and its students generated ideas, energy and a strong foundation for a partnership school that would break new ground in teaching, learning, research and community engagement,” said Christina O’Connor, director of professional education preparation, policy and accountability at UNCG and co-director of Moss Street Partnership School.

“Moss Street’s long and proud history as a

community-based school appealed to the leaders at UNCG who wanted to provide teacher candidates with strong preparation in working with communities,” she said, “while Rockingham County Schools saw an opportunity to do more for the Moss Street students through a partnership with UNCG.”

While the school follows the Rockingham County Schools traditional school calendar, Moss Street Partnership is no longer directly a part of RCS, though UNCG collaborates with Moss Street for some services. Students must qualify to attend Moss Street Partnership under specific regulations identified by the NC Lab School legislation. Moss Street Elementary School students who chose not to attend Moss Street Partnership School were assigned to a different elementary school determined by the district administration.

Jayden Butchee attended a different local elementary school last year, but when Jessica Caudle heard about the new school program, she knew Moss Street Partnership was where she wanted her son.

“I think this school will prepare him well for middle school and beyond,” she said.

Moss Street Partnership School is designed to develop student skills and interest in the STEAM subjects — science, technology, engineering, visual and performing arts, and math.

“Here at MSPS, we are able to use experiential, inclusive and collaborative practices to guide teaching and learning,” said Catina Chestnut, associate director/principal of the school. “We rely on teachers’ input in decision making for every aspect of our organization.”

The school also has two active book clubs, will implement a mentoring program in the coming weeks and organized a Home School Connect Team to identify opportunities for families to express their ideas, questions and concerns. They also plan to develop an active PTA. Art, music and physical education are offered, as well as theater and dance.

“UNCG is actually known for our College of Visual and Performing Arts, and we prepare teachers in all of these arts areas and P.E. and health,” O’Connor said. “In order to bring our student teachers up here to learn how to teach, they have to have somebody to learn from, and so we will have a full-time dance and theater teacher, in addition to our full-time art, music and P.E. teachers.”

Technology was also added, with all students and teachers having iPads for use during the instructional day.

“Our goal is to continue to improve students’ academic progress by following our guiding principles — collaborative, inclusive, experiential, reflective and interdisciplinary,” Chestnut said.

Chestnut also hopes to identify opportunities for students at Moss Street Partnership to spend time on the main UNCG campus.

“I believe that by exposing students to higher ed communities, we can influence them to continue their commitment to education,” she said.

Jennifer Atkins Brown writes every other Sunday for this section. Contact her at

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