State News

Bill and Melinda Gates visit Durham school

Posted September 23, 2009
Updated September 24, 2009

— Bill and Melinda Gates got a first-hand look at North Carolina schools and colleges on Wednesday after beginning what they called a “two-day learning trip.”

The Microsoft billionaire and his wife met with teachers, students and administrators at West Charlotte High School to talk about how the school is using data to track student progress and identify effective teaching methods.

“They literally are doing assessments every two weeks and the data is available the next morning,” Melinda Gates told The Associated Press in an interview afterward. “They are really using data to measure those kids and it’s starting to drive outcomes at a school that had been underperforming before. That’s a key part of what we’re trying to do.”

The couple later met with dozens of students from several North Carolina colleges at Central Piedmont Community College. Students did most of the talking as the couple questioned them on their experiences with developmental courses, online learning and how they were paying for college.

Students represented schools from Davidson County Community College, Guilford Technical Community College, Piedmont Central, North Carolina A&T State University and University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

The Gates are co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is pushing to improve the success rate of community college students.

Their initial education efforts focused on high schools, but in recent years they’ve increasingly supported programs that they hope will be modeled for increasing the percentage of community college students who complete a degree.

On Thursday, the couple visited Durham Performance Learning Center to talk with students and staff. The high school for students who have dropped out of school or who are at-risk of dropping out is a partnership between Durham Public Schools and Communities in Schools of Durham.

The Gateses also were expected to in Raleigh Thursday to meet with state officials and former Gov. Jim Hunt, a prominent national figure in education reform.


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  • funtime1 Sep 25, 2009

    I would like to say thank you to Bill and Melinda Gates for everything they do for our youth and their education. My daughter attends an Early College High School that is funded by their foundation. While attending high school she is also enrolled in college. All high school courses are honor classes. The class sizes are smaller than in a traditional high school, meaning more one on one attention. They focus on academics, sports are not offered. So far she has received staight A's and has fininshed several couses with a grade of 100. When she receives her high school diploma, she will also have an associates degree. As you can tell we are VERY proud of her. This is a wonderful opportunity for the children in our county.

  • asjdiw Sep 24, 2009

    Blogging - the catalyst for the end of civility.
    I am old enough to remember when this kind of event was a good thing. Oh well, we can all feel good about ourselves in church this Sunday...

  • tiffanyrichardson Sep 24, 2009

    You all are ridiculous. I happen to work at the school he visited. Our kids were low performing at their previous schools and now are doing very well. We all appreciate him coming to our small school. Some of my students have never seen anything outside of Durham, so meeting someone like him is amazing for them. You're all talking about Vista!!!!! Who cares? This is about educating our youth.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Sep 24, 2009

    Anytime that we can advance education, it's a wonderful thing.

    Thank you Bill and Melinda!! :-)

  • FairPlay Sep 24, 2009

    vista is a nightmare. if it's so great why did MS dump it? those seinfeld ads summed up how worthless it is. remember that school in Cleveland with the student shooter? that was Gates sponsored.

    I do not know they did but I have a Sony Vio and it has never gone wrong even with the heavy workload I do on it.Good computer maintenance helps too.

  • donnied1952 Sep 24, 2009

    The Gateses WOW, sounds like a whole bunch of them to me.

  • thinknc Sep 24, 2009

    I wish they'd come by our school and listen to what their grant has done to a former School of Distinction. Too, I wonder if they would be interested in how students are recruited for the smaller school operating within our high school--the small school people are doing everything possible to dissuade at-risk kids from applying........the very group the small school concept was supposed to help! It started as a Gates-funded nightmare--and is now paid for by your tax dollars. (And even with more of the "top" students, overall performance is lower than that of the "big" school!)

  • foetine Sep 24, 2009

    every blue screen of death is another dollar Gates sends to schools

  • foetine Sep 24, 2009

    vista is a nightmare. if it's so great why did MS dump it? those seinfeld ads summed up how worthless it is.
    remember that school in Cleveland with the student shooter? that was Gates sponsored.

  • FairPlay Sep 24, 2009

    I have had zero issues with Vista and I applaude the millions the Gates' give to education.