TARBORO, North Carolina – Governor Roy Cooper delivered school supplies to Martin Millennium Academy in Tarboro on Tuesday.
Cooper told WRAL News that rural areas need more classroom supplies. He also said North Carolina needs to do better for districts in need.
With programs like its Spanish Immersion class, Martin Millennium Academy prepares students to take on the world far beyond Edgecombe County.
“He met us on the catwalk with boxes of school supplies, and we’re grateful, we’re grateful for your support,” Edgecombe County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Valerie Bridges said.
Cooper brought boxes of notebooks, pens and paper to the K-8 school in Tarboro, as part of his school supplies campaign that sent resources to classrooms across the state.
Cooper told WRAL News more needs to be done for districts like Edgecombe County Public Schools.
“We’re making progress, but we’re not where we need to be yet,” Cooper said.
According to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 57% of ECPS schools were considered low performing in 2019.
In 2022, this figure has increased to 71.4%.
The district told WRAL News the pandemic was to blame, and the governor said a lack of broadband access in rural areas has hurt student success.
Cooper told WRAL News that in addition to better resources, the state needs to help districts recruit motivated teachers.
“We should pay our educators more,” he said. “Significantly more.”
A new program in Edgecombe County is trying to close the gap.
The district’s Scholar Teachers program attracted three new teachers who grew up in Edgecombe County and were tapped in high school for a future in teaching.
“And then they go to college and they say, ‘We’ll pay your college if you agree to come back here to Edgecombe County to teach,'” Cooper said. “What an amazing idea.”
Cooper hopes that by contributing talents and tools, the district’s future could be as bright as its students.
“Yeah, we have work to do. Yes, there are things we need to do to catch up. Yes, we have to work to improve,” Cooper said. “But you don’t have to walk very far inside a school building to see something wonderful happen.”