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Science & Engineering's Dixon 2018-19 NCASA Principal of the Year

SILER CITY — Resourcefulness comes to mind with respect to Bobby Dixon’s stewardship as principal of the Chatham School of Science and Engineering (CSSE). Bobby Dixon leads two schools at the Chatham Center for Innovation.  That knack for filling gaps for his students gets at why he’s the 2018-19 North Carolina Association for Scholastic Activities (NCASA) Principal of the Year.

CSSE, an early college allowing students to simultaneously earn both a high school diploma and an associate’s degree, opened in 2016 with eight students. It’s a partnership between Chatham County Schools (CCS) and Central Carolina Community College (CCCC). The associate's degree a CCS student can earn from CCCC is tuition-free. Credits from those degrees are transferable within the University of North Carolina System of colleges and universities.

The 2018-19 school year was the first time some CSSE students were enrolled full time at CCCC. At the same time, they still were high school students desiring the sort of after-school outlets their peers enjoy.

“As a new early college, it is a challenge Chatham Central High School Principal Karla Eanes chats with Chatham School of Science & Engineering Principal Bobby Dixon. to provide extra-curricular activities for our students, as we do not offer any athletic opportunities,” Dixon said. “What we can offer is an academic experience outside of the classroom.”

The early college ended its school year with 72 students, which is not a ton. Yet CSSE has gained state-level recognition for its students’ participation in offerings from NCASA, which promotes both the success and academic excellence of North Carolina’s students through scholastic competition.

“As a school, it is important for us to provide challenging opportunities for our students,” Dixon said. “When students ask me about the extracurricular activities we offer, I ask them, ‘What would you like to have?’ This has resulted in our participation in Science Olympiad, the North Carolina Science and Engineering Fair, The Quill, robotics, Beta Club and even a dance ensemble. Our students have excelled in these competitions, placing at the state level and even participating on the national level. As we enter our fourth year of our program, we anticipate adding other academic opportunities such as Quiz Bowl, speech and debate, and whatever our new students bring to the table.”

CSSE began this past school year with 13 juniors, 22 sophomores and 30 freshmen.

Dixon also is the principal for SAGE Academy, which — with 23 students in 2018-19 — is an alternative to traditional high school.

Both SAGE and CSSE coexist at the Chatham Center for Innovation.

The 2019 Exhibition Night at the Chatham Center for Innovation included 3-D pens.

Published May 28, 2019