SURRY COUNTY, N.C. — Education is taking new shape in North Carolina through laboratory schools. The state’s seventh lab school will open in Elkin for the 2022-23 academic year. 


What You Need To Know

Elkin Elementary School will open a lab school partnered with Appalachian State University this fall

State legislators passed a law in 2016 for the UNC Board of Governors to open eight lab schools in the state

Most lab schools operate in districts where at least 25% of schools are low-performing


Appalachian State University is partnering with Elkin City Schools to open its second laboratory school at Elkin Elementary School. Lab schools provide enhanced student education in low-performing school districts and increase student outcome. 

In 2016, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a law for the University of North Carolina Board of Governors to open eight lab schools across the state, adding an additional lab school the year after. Each lab school partners with a state university, like the Appalachian State University Academy at Middle Fork in Walkertown. This partnership creates a training gateway for teachers and principals as well. 

“We have a lot of pre-service teachers and principals here in our building at the Academy at Middle Fork who are from the Reich College of Education, learning how to be teachers and principals who will then go out into the field,” Dr. Hannah Reeder, director of Academy at Middle Fork, said. 

There are currently six lab schools open in North Carolina, in Rockingham County, Forsyth County, Jackson County, Charlotte, Wilmington and Greenville. Any student living in school districts where those lab schools are located can attend for free. Most lab schools are operating in districts where at least 25% of schools are low-performing. 

Academy at Middle Fork serves grades K-5, focusing on building reading and writing skills. Books that depict representative characters and situations that evoke social and emotional learning surround students. The school offers collaborative spaces and small groups where students can learn as well. 

“The Academy is the best place to come and learn. We believe in developing the whole child, so we look at their academics and we boost them and help them, provide the support they need, but we also work to find out who they are as people and get them excited in the things that they want to learn about and do,” principal Amie Snow said. 

While Elkin City Schools will be the latest to open a lab school, there could be another one on the way. The Guilford County Board of Education approved N.C. A&T State University's proposal of opening a lab school focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and math within the district. The university is now seeking approval from the UNC Board of Governors. If approved, this eighth lab school will open in the fall.