Edgecombe County Public Schools

Redesigning school so students take the lead

Edgecombe County Public Schools | Franklin Street Studio

The Problem

For Edgecombe County Public Schools, innovation isn’t a luxury; it’s a necessity. Leaders in the rural eastern North Carolina community realized that no matter how successful they were by traditional measures, they faced an even bigger challenge: graduates assumed they had to leave Edgecombe County in order to access the opportunities they deserve.

The Work

Design a school that helps students understand themselves, their community, and their future aspirations. Foster collaboration between students, families and teachers such that they build collective vision that will sustain in the long term. Rethink the purpose and design of school so that students’ feel connected to their hometown and consider putting down roots.

The Learning

Franklin Street has supported ECPS’s school design process from the very beginning. In partnership with Transcend, we designed and led a community-wide design process, supported the district to launch an innovative microschool, and ultimately coached the team to expand that model across grades 6-12. Through this work, we’ve supported students and adults alike to:

Connect and co-create

Our multi-year school design process hinges upon deep collaboration between students, families, educators and community members. We constantly identify opportunities to distribute leadership and share power.

Take the lead

We design and iterate on ideas alongside the community, coach and support the district’s executive team, and ensure the team is growing their capacity to lead independently.

Seek inspiration and provocation

We’ve supported leaders in ECPS to imagine new possibilities through immersive tours in Austin and Washington, DC. We visit schools and other inspiring learning environments to spark new ideas and gain inspiration.

The Outcome

The North-Phillips school of innovation empowers learners to address real problems in Edgecombe County. Three years in, students are both performing better on standardized tests and feeling more connected—to their own learning, to their families, and to the county they see themselves as an integral part of.