Walking through Corolla Village is like opening up a window to the past of the quaint seaside town. Many of the early 20th Century buildings throughout the village have been carefully restored to their original splendor, but one in particular has turned back the clock and now operates in its original capacity once again.
History and Background
Originally built around 1890, the Corolla Schoolhouse has been home to the Water’s Edge Village School since 2012. WEVS is a publically accredited charter school open to any resident of North Carolina. The two room school focuses on project-based education while still following the Common Core Curriculum and all North Carolina Education Guidelines.
With 26 students enrolled, it is North Carolina’s smallest school, even with the increase of 11 children from the previous academic year. Three teachers and a master’s level special education coordinator provide a quality of education that is very enticing to parents living in the area. Especially over the alternatives.
A Needed Change
Prior to WEVS opening, parents in Corolla and the surrounding areas had few options when it came to education for their children. They could homeschool, try to traverse the Currituck Sound by boat, or place their children on a bus for a 90 minute commute to and from school every day. Now they have a student-to-teacher ratio unheard of in modern mainstream schooling.
Today some families in areas where public education is more readily accessible, like Kill Devil Hills and Southern Shores, are now choosing to send their children to Corolla instead of their local school: a testament to the reputation and growth of WEVS in just a few years.
Different Approach to Education
Though the school looks like a relic or museum on the outside, inside it is full of cutting edge technology like Smart Boards and iPads. Homework and additional instruction is given through distance learning centers like Xtra Math and the Khan Academy as well.
Students are also not grouped together by grade, but by experience level instead. As a charter school, there is the freedom to challenge kids to learn with older students if they are able to handle the work. On the other hand, if a child is deficient in an area, they can receive instruction more appropriate to their capabilities.
Teachers also utilize the unique features of the surrounding area to augment the education experience. Gym class and recess is held on the grounds of the Currituck Heritage Park, the Corolla Public Library serves as the school library, and local landmarks like the Currituck Lighthouse and historic Whalehead are used as backdrops for teaching North Carolina history.
The Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education also works with the students on Marine Biology and other natural science classes. They even allowed students to witness the necropsy of a whale that washed up on a nearby beach.
While WEVS utilizes the surrounding area for instruction, the community itself also comes to help out at the school. Local artists and musicians volunteer their time to teach classes in their respective fields while parents and town residents offer tutoring sessions throughout the year.
The school also relies on financial involvement from the local community as well, as private donations from surrounding businesses and families are the only way that the school has been able to thrive since its inception. Money received from the North Carolina Department of Education is not enough to satisfy the school’s budget.
With the support of the local businesses and communities, WEVS has grown steadily in stature and ability since it began in 2012. There is even talk of expanding into the middle school grades in coming years. The luxury of a local school has attracted young families back to Corolla for the first time in decades. To make donations to the school, click: here.
The charter school in Corolla is one of the many attractive assets compelling more and more families to consider buying an Outer Banks home in the unique area of the northern beaches of the OBX!