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Middle school programs top picture_edited

Our middle school programs take it to the next level by honing in on the skills they need to make the transition to high school while also gaining some real world experience and college awareness. Students are given a chance to participate in a number of activities such as eighth grade interviews, a college expo, and even visit a college campus.

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In order to prepare eighth grade students for the transition to high school, a group of high school students meets individually with every eighth grade student to discuss their goals for the future, high school curriculum, extra-curricular activities, the importance of good academic habits, and McNair Educational Foundation programs. 

Jump Start is a three-week summer program held on the campus of Isothermal Community College for eighth grade students moving into the ninth grade. The program provides a “jump start” on academic classes such as English, math, history, and science. Students also participate in a variety of other enrichment activities such as a physical education class, a college readiness class, a community service project, and a visit to a four-year college campus. 

Teachers and counselors recommend potential students for the program in spring of the eighth grade school year. Students interested in Jump Start should talk with the guidance counselor at his or her middle school for program eligibility. 

Heart of a Champion (HOC) is a middle school program that works with student-athletes on the football team roster throughout each school year.


The students participate in team-building, character, and leadership skills activities. Students also have the opportunity to go on field trips to colleges. 

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 The College Knowledge EXPO allows seventh grade students to learn about the varying levels of postsecondary education and the types of careers within a field available with each level. The EXPO is held on the campus of Isothermal Community College and sessions are facilitated by representatives from two- and four-year colleges and universities.

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Mentors work with students, parents, teachers, guidance and/or administration to encourage the student to take rigorous courses, maintain grades, and complete the necessary actions to meet post-secondary admissions requirements.  Each student is assigned a Mentor in the seventh grade and that Mentor stays with the student through high school graduation. 

 The CONNECT Tour allows students to visit local businesses and begin to “connect” their interests and their education to potential careers in our community.


During this tour, every eighth grade student visits a variety of businesses to hear about career opportunities and the training and education requirements for various careers.


Students also enjoy a lunch and learn session with representatives of the military at McNair Field.


The Reality of Money is a free financial education simulation sponsored by the North Carolina State Employees Credit Union (SECU). McNair Educational Foundation collaborates with the local SECU to host these events in each middle school for all eighth grade students to experience. 

As they participate, students learn about the impact their choices make in their budget and lifestyle as they are “transformed” into wage earning, bill paying and financially independent young adults. The end result is that students get a powerful lesson about the real-life choices they will soon be making. 

Students learn:

  • The value of “living below your means”

  • The value of maintaining a good credit score

  • How education can be a key driver of financial success

  • How budgeting helps build financial success

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