Dare County Schools Top Tier Nationally
By Kip Tabb –
Summer vacation is done, the kids are back in the classroom and it seems like a good time to take a look at our Dare County schools and recognize them for what they are: excellent examples of what can go right in education.
This is not to sugar coat problems that exist in the halls of education—there is drug use in our schools, there are extraordinary budgetary challenges . . . and as is the case in every school district, the list can go on and on.
But when we look at only that, we miss what may be the most important part of the story—our kids are getting an amazing education.
Evidence? First Flight High School (FFHS) for the year 2011-12—the most recent ranking—is a North Carolina School of Excellence. “That’s fairly unusual for a high school,” FFHS principal, Arty Tillett, said. Manteo, it should be noted, ranks almost as well, just missing the “School of Excellence” designation.
It is more than state rankings, though, that tell the story. When Newsweek rated U.S. high schools, First Flight came in at 1333 and Manteo at 1619. It’s not clear exactly how many high schools there are in the United States but the figure would appear to be somewhere between 26,000-27,000, which would put the northern Dare County high schools in the top 5-6% of secondary schools nationwide.
It’s not just the high schools that are doing so well; good high school students are a result a good foundation. First Flight Middle School, as an example, is also a school of excellence.
But it’s the high schools that are the focus of this article and trip to FFHS is a journey into educational success.
The course work is challenging. Yet it is the absolute certainty among the teachers that they can create an environment where kids will rise to the challenge and thrive that is the key to success; the belief that every child who walks through the door will be able to master the material before them.
Even without the national recognition and state accolades, these are schools that would stand out. Three years ago FFHS’s ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) Team brought home first prize from Hawaii in an international competition. They are still the team to beat in state competitions and continue to compete internationally.
These are kids that go to “Teen Court” and compete toe to toe with schools twice their size. The FFHS jazz band has been recognized nationally, and the advanced choirs of both Manteo and FFHS have to be heard to be believed.
There is turmoil around us and education is in the middle of it, but in looking at our problems, it is equally as important to acknowledge what we are doing right—and we are doing a lot right.
“We’re going to provide a high level of education no matter what,” Arty Tillett observed. It seems the facts are supporting his claim.