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McDowell Academy for Innovation

McDowell Academy of Innovation

What it is:  a small learning community, students will have access to college courses at an earlier age, the uniquely designed classes enable students to concurrently obtain a high school diploma while earning a certificate or an associate's degree.

McDowell Academy for Innovation is the 6-12 continuum of study for students enrolled at Foothills Community School, having this partner school allows leadership and mentorship opportunities for students.

Where it will be: on McDowell Technical Community College campus, allowing students access to a hands-on, project-based learning experience that offers work-based learning options for students.

How students learn: Throughout the rigorous curriculum, there is an opportunity for students to explore STEM-based careers throughout our region; through site visitation, job shadowing, and work-based learning experiences.

Students at the McDowell Academy have a mixture of career and academic classes at a time. These classes meet entrance requirements for four-year colleges/universities. They show the students how the subjects relate to each other and career fields.

Teachers that serve at McDowell Academy for Innovation will serve as a team. This serves students who they come to know, and provides a family-like atmosphere, nurturing student-teacher ties and positive relationships.

Information Night for

both McDowell Academy of Innovation and Early College:

Feb 2nd at 6:30pm in the EMMS Auditorium.

Applications will be provided.





January 27, 2017


Contact: Melanie Shaver



New High School Option: 
McDowell Academy for Innovation
Marion, NC- McDowell Technical Community College and McDowell County Schools have partnered to develop a STEM-focused Early College on the campus of McDowell Technical Community College at the Universal Advanced Manufacturing Building. The McDowell Academy for Innovation STEM Early College will be opening in the Fall of 2017.  The McDowell Academy of Innovation (MAI) is an inclusive, innovative high school designed to deepen student's understanding of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) through project-based learning with an emphasis on work-based learning projects. Through MAI, learning will be transformed into an integrated experience of content and relevance. Students have a unique opportunity to engage in high school and college courses that are cooperatively taught class to broaden their understanding of the content and its connection to a future college and/or career. In the Fall of 2017, McDowell Academy for Innovation plans to open with 50 students in 9th or 10th grade. 

To learn more about McDowell Academy for Innovation please visit or attend the McDowell Early College & McDowell Academy for Innovation Information Night at 6:30 pm, Feb 2nd, 2017 at East McDowell Middle School Auditorium. 
Thinking of Applying? 

Applicants should…

  • reside in McDowell County NC 
  • possess a strong interest in one or more of the STEM fields of study
  • possess a strong work ethic
  • want to go to college to earn a degree, certificate or diploma
  • possess promising academic potential or a will to improve
  • want to attend a small school and is willing to embrace opportunities unique to our program
  • be willing to do without the traditional “large high school experience” 
Frequently Asked Questions: 
Q: Do I have to go to the STEM middle school to go to the STEM Early College: 
A. The STEM Early College (MAI) is open to all students, FCS students have first right to refuse. 
Q: How is this different from the McDowell Early College that is already in place? 
A. We have a phenomenal Early College in McDowell County, and they receive more applications than they can accept each year. Having a second option allows students to focus on STEM-based interests and allows us to accept more students to an early college model. You also have several options, you can obtain an associates degree or one of the 50+ certificates or diplomas offered at McDowell Technical Community College.
Q: What kind of teaching styles can we expect at McDowell Academy for Innovation (MAI)? 
A. You will see project-based and work-site based learning at MAI, these best practices allow students to apply the knowledge that they gain and explore careers (and/or college degrees) in a different manner. 
Q: Can I play sports?
A. Yes! You can still play sports at MHS. 
Q: Is transportation available?
A. Yes! You can still take the bus to the high school and transfer to a bus that will take you to MAI. 
Q: Can I take band? 
A. Yes! This is a collaborative effort between MHS and MAI to ensure students have access to the band.
Q: What about access to clubs, extracurricular activities, etc? 
A. The great thing about starting a new school is that student input is really important! We are looking for students who will help build the foundation for a wonderful school! 
Other Questions can be submitted to Melanie Shaver at
Applications will be available Feb 2nd at the Information Meeting, Feb 3rd from your school counselor, or here on the website! 
What is MAI?
  • More than a HS Diploma
  • Provide dual credit at no cost to students
  • Increase college attendance and success rates for all students
  • Offer rigorous instruction and accelerated courses
  • Provide academic and social support services to help students succeed
  • Increase college readiness 
  • Provide an opportunity to earn a College Associate Degree, certificate or diploma
  • Reduce barriers to college access