Local News

Vance school breaks tradition with no-nonsense approach

Posted September 4, 2008 5:26 p.m. EDT
Updated September 8, 2008 7:20 p.m. EDT

— It's a school where the norm is breaking tradition – if students misbehave, their parents get called in with them for detention.

That's because the Vance County Learning Center has a no-nonsense approach to school.

"I do not play. And sometimes, the parents get upset with me," says Deryl von Williams, who founded the school two years ago with the goal to teach children who, for whatever the reason – discipline cases, failing grades, etc. – couldn't be taught in public school.

"Some children are getting in trouble, because they're not doing well in the classroom setting," von Williams said.

The school — separate from the Vance County school system – itself, doesn't look like much. There are tight quarters, cracks in the walls, lamps with no shades. With donated books, they learn.

Yet, many parents say they don't mind.

"It's about the kids getting what they need," parent Gwendolyn Terrell said.

And if they misbehave, parents will share the punishment.

"I get on the phone. I call mom at work," von Williams says. "I call mom at home. I call mom wherever mom is, and I say: 'When you get your lunch hour – I know you're at work, I know you don't have a full hour. I need you to stop by. I need you to sit with your child."

And many parents say they don't mind.

"I'm only interested in one thing," Mabe Malloy says about her grandson. "(That) he does not become a statistic to the street."

The North Carolina Division of Non-Public Education says the Learning Center, which teaches first through eighth grades, meets the requirements of private school, even though von Williams admits she has no background in education.

But she says students have left the center and have improved their grades at public school.

"We can be used as a model," she says. "This place works."

And that, von Williams says, is no nonsense.