The McDowell County Board of Education is the 2020 winner of the Excellence in Educational Programs Award. This award, which is given by the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA), recognizes school boards for the development of extraordinary educational programs.
The board was honored for its Public Safety Academy during the awards ceremony at the virtual NCSBA Annual Conference for Board Member Development on November 6. Since the Public Safety Academy began in 2014-2015, it has grown to include firefighting, EMT, and law and justice programs.
Described by NCSBA Immediate Past President Brenda Stephens as a future-focused district committed to helping students become college and career ready, McDowell County Schools has developed partnerships throughout the community that allow students to gain real-life public safety experience through internships and apprenticeships. Students can work toward an associate’s degree in emergency management at the local community college, and the academy’s Teen Court serves as a diversion program for teen offenders while giving students a chance to serve as jurors, bailiffs, prosecution, and defense. Students are also able to test their skills at numerous public safety competitions across the state.