TIP Early Learning Network

With a generous grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, TIP and its partners have developed and are supporting an inter-district network focused on redesigning learning environments to better address the early learning needs of vulnerable children. The TIP Early Learning Network will be comprised of cohorts of 15-20 elementary schools per year for three consecutive years. Most or all network schools will be among those categorized by the state as “low-performing.” Many will be Restart Schools.


TIP created the Solution Creators Action Network (TIP-SCAN) in May 2020 with the generous support and partnership of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. TIP-SCAN has provided a transformative framework and a structure for TIP member districts to respond to the upheaval generated by the COVID-19 pandemic to reexamine longstanding district systems and processes.

Through TIP-SCAN, TIP has distilled three commitments upheld by TIP and participating members and partners:

  • A commitment to a full perspective on equity;
  • A commitment to learner-centered transformation; and,
  • A commitment to transparent, open design.

Each commitment embodies deeply held beliefs regarding the relationship of public educators to their students, their communities and the world at large. Our vision for TIP-SCAN is to bring together educators and communities to construct approaches to education that reflect these commitments.

What emerges from TIP-SCAN will reflect the unique features and needs of each community. It will not be a one-size-fits-all approach or model.  By setting out a bold vision and expectations, TIP-SCAN seeks to lift up courageous leaders, educators, students, and community members and to share examples of what is possible through transformation in varied educational settings and community contexts.

Restart Schools Collaborative

TIP helped state leaders create the Restart program in 2016, providing recurring low-performing schools the opportunity to apply to the State Board to receive charter-like flexibility over many areas of school operations and funding. TIP districts were the first to seize this opportunity. Through our Restart Schools Collaborative (RSC), TIP has helped school and district leaders explore the opportunity presented by Restart and get answers to questions about Restart law and policy. The RSC has supported school-level teams as they have explored potential uses of flexibility and crafted their Restart plans, and we have also supported district leaders in responding at the system-level to the unique needs and opportunities of Restart.

TIP has hosted meetings of principals, APs, district leaders, teachers, and others to dig deeply into specific areas of flexibility (e.g., human capital, school funding, and innovative uses of space and time) and consider the possibilities. We have also hosted school visits to innovative North Carolina schools, including Restart Schools at various stages of the planning and implementation processes, and charter schools. TIP has previously contracted with experts in specific areas of flexibility to advise TIP district and school leaders on Restart as it relates to their areas of expertise.

Virtual Academy Collaborative

In December 2019, TIP announced the statewide release of e-course supplemental materials in Math I, Math II, Math III, English I/II, and Biology as part of TIP’s Virtual Academy Collaborative (VAC). All course materials are free and available through the Canvas Commons or via download. Subject-area teachers from TIP member districts curated course packages with logistical support from the William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at N.C. State University. TIP districts have seen significant value through their use of the VAC course materials. TIP members use the VAC course materials in a variety of contexts, including as electronic alternatives to textbooks, as supplements to in-class instruction, to set up “flipped classrooms,” to create mastery checklists and let students proceed at their own pace, and for credit recovery and homebound students. 

The VAC content was developed and released statewide prior to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, enabling the statewide use of these course materials when schools moved to remote and hybrid models beginning in Spring 2020. All content is licensed as Creative Commons (CC BY-SA-NC 4.0). The statewide release of these course materials fit with TIP’s practice of incubating new and promising projects within its network of member districts and then making them widely available. For more information about the VAC statewide release, see our press release

TIP Teaching Scholars

TIP and NCSU worked together to develop a model for early contracts with college juniors that included the opportunity for summer immersion experiences in a district and an additional stipend in the first two years of teaching. After successful incubation within TIP, NCSU expanded the program beyond TIP districts in a program called NC State Education Scholars. As a land grant university, NCSU looks for programs that merit a statewide approach and chose this program. We are pleased that TIP was an early innovator in this approach.

NSF Master Teacher Fellows

In March 2019, TIP and N.C. State University received a $1.84 million grant to run a five-year North Carolina High School Mathematics Master Teacher Fellows Program. In 2021, TIP contracted with Dr. Tamar Avineri, an experienced mathematics teacher, to support the Program. Dr. Avineri is a faculty member at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics (NCSSM), where she has been teaching since 2004. In her role with TIP, Dr. Avineri works with the Program team at N.C. State to provide mentorship and professional development to Fellows and prepare them to pursue National Board Certification. 

The purpose of the Master Teacher Fellows Program is to strengthen the leadership skills and instructional practices of 20 high school mathematics teachers in TIP Member districts. Over five years, teachers are completing a master’s program (or earning a graduate certificate), attending professional development sessions each year, working collaboratively to apply for National Board Certification, completing a mentor training program, and attending and presenting at mathematics teaching conferences.

BWF Pathway Scholars

The Burroughs Wellcome Fund (BWF) supported a partnership of TIP, NCSU, and UNC to pilot an initiative that enabled selected residency licensed teachers to participate in Pathway to Practice NC, a competency-based program that equipped them to clear their NC residency license and to be a successful math or science teacher. BWF Pathways Scholars received $5,000 tuition support; advising and coaching from NC State and UNC faculty, edTPA support and submission funding, and engagement opportunities with peers, including monthly cohort seminars. The BWF Pathway Scholars pilot was used to evaluate effective practices for expanding opportunities for diverse science and math teachers to teach in high needs schools in North Carolina. Additional details can be found in the program brochure.

TIP Partnerships on Experiential Learning and Entrepreneurship

TIP has partnered with District C, whose innovative learning model prepares students for the uniquely human job description of the future: work in diverse teams to solve real, complex problems. TIP and District C partnered to create a network model across three TIP school districts. TIP has also partnered with Applied Synergies Partnership (ASaP) and the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology and Science to provide high-quality experiential entrepreneurship education. Both of these partnerships are part of TIP’s effort to reimagine public education through a more learner-centered, entrepreneurial approach.

Weather-Related Disruptions to Learning

Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Mike Ward conducted a study of the impact of Hurricanes Florence and Matthew on students and learning. Dr. Ward interviewed over 20 TIP district and school leaders and synthesized survey results to arrive at a set of recommendations for addressing the impact of student displacement and disruptions to learning. Dr. Ward described the study on an episode of Education Matters, accompanied by then-superintendent of Craven County Schools Dr. Meghan Doyle, who shared her district’s experience with storms impacting student learning. A copy of Dr. Ward’s report is available on our website.

PO Box 58673 | Raleigh, NC 27658
Phone: 984.664.5411 | Email: info@tipnc.org

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