Person Early College for Innovation and Leadership enters second year at Piedmont Community College

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by Elizabeth Townsend

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Students greet each other during first day of school at Person Early College for Innovation and LeadershipOn August 3 students enrolled in Person Early College for Innovation and Leadership (PECIL) were riding buses, participating in ice breakers to meet new students, and checking out computers for their ninth and tenth grade year at the early college.

Despite an early start to the school year, the 95 students in attendance we excited to see old friends and meet new classmates as 11 new tenth graders joined the returning students and over 40 new ninth graders are expected for the 2017-18 academic year.

As the students gathered together on Piedmont Community College’s (PCC) Person County Campus, they were reminded of the school motto: AIM High. Principal Shirlrona Johnson shared with the new students that AIM stands for “Always Imagine More”.

“Seeing our returning students and meeting and getting to know our new students was truly a pleasure. We are very proud of what we are already seeing with this new cohort,” commented Johnson.

She went on to say, “As I looked around and saw all of the students arriving this morning I thought about a quote by Henry Ford. He said "Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.”

“Last year Person County Schools, Piedmont Community College, the PECIL administrative staff, the teachers, students, and parents came together to begin something new in Person County. Those stakeholders have stayed together and recruited more students to join us this year on an exciting next phase of our journey.....progress. We will continue as a team to work together to make this school a success and a program the Person County community will be proud of.”

Early college programs, like PECIL, offer students the opportunity to enroll in college level courses while in high school. Students earn their high school diploma and associate’s degree (at no charge) after completing 5 years of school beginning with ninth grade.

The incoming ninth grade students enroll in High School English, Math, Earth Science, and History. They also earn college credit by taking PCC courses in College Transfer Success, Health and Fit for Life, and Introduction to Computers.

This year’s tenth grade students will complete High School English II, Math II, Biology, and Civics. Their PCC courses will include American History I and II and introduction classes in Digital Effects and Animation Technology (DEAT), Electrical Power Production Technology (EPPT), Healthcare Management Technology, Mechatronics, and Information Technology.

PECIL is a small learning community where administration, staff, and students know each other and learn in a cohort of 20-25 students per class. The Mission of the school is “to provide a highly supportive and academically challenging learning environment for students in programs for Health Sciences, Advanced Manufacturing, Technology, and Transfer (HATT), so that they may graduate as service-oriented leaders prepared to enter college and to compete globally in STEM-related careers.”

Offering a unique learning experience with a curricular focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), PECIL offers pathways that provide comprehensive instruction allowing students a variety of avenues for learning critically and creatively. For example, all courses incorporate project-based and linked learning. As a result there are opportunities for mentorships with community business partners, field trips to businesses and colleges, and service learning projects (local, regional, national, and international).

Leadership is also encouraged through service learning, student council, competitive events, student led conferences, SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), and a character/leadership curriculum.

To learn more or to sign your child up for the few remaining ninth grade spots, contact Walter Montgomery, PCC’s PECIL liaison, at or (336) 322- 2258 or Shirlrona Johnson, Principal, at or (336) 322-2275. Additional information and an online application also available at