Isaac Bear Early College High School

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Isaac Bear Early College High School
Isaac Bear.jpg
630 MacMillan Avenue
Wilmington, North Carolina 28403
United States
Type Public
Motto Achievement through Challenge and Citizenship
Founded 2006
School district New Hanover County Schools
Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley
School number (910) 350-1387
Principal MaryPaul Beall
Grades 912
Enrollment 228 (2015)
Language English
Campus University of Carolina Wilmington
Color(s) Teal and Silver         
Mascot Bearhawk

Isaac Bear Early College High School, also called Isaac Bear, is a selective-enrollment school at 630 MacMillan Avenue, Wilmington, North Carolina. The premises are situated on UNCW campus and were founded in the auditorium of Annie H. Snipes Elementary school in the year 2006. New Hanover County Schools operates this school with the support of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and the Gates Foundation. Students must apply to attend this school; no more than 100 submissions are accepted per year. As of the 2008-2009 school year, only 62/ 63 students were accepted. The program allows for students to work and earn up to 60 college credits, which, on average, are worth about $15,210. "As a partner in the North Carolina University System and the North Carolina New Schools Project, Isaac Bear Early College High School provides an accelerated, college-ready education by cultivating an environment of mature scholarship and leadership."[1]

Background and Original Building[edit]

The original Isaac Bear Building, located at Market and 13th Streets, served as the first home of Wilmington College, outside the public school system. Classes were first held there in 1947. Constructed in 1912, the name of the first building was given by Samuel Bear, Jr. (1854-1916) as a memorial to his brother, Isaac Bear. The Bear family, owners of an intrastate wholesale dry goods firm located on Front Street, made a number of large donations to better the community such as a wing to James Walker Memorial Hospital. Isaac Bear was known as "one of Wilmington's most capable and highly esteemed businessmen." He was a member of North State Lodge of B'Nai Brith, past Grand President of District Grand Lodge, and B.P.O.E Elks #532. Upon his death, the Isaac Bear Memorial School served to remember "the close friendship and devotion between the brothers and their interest in public welfare."[2] The school and its name stands as a memorial to Samuel Bear Jr.'s original intentions - to honor his late brother Isaac.

The Early College Program[edit]

Early College High Schools are small, autonomous schools where students complete all high school requirements and up to 60 hours of college credit during their four years of high school. Early College High Schools make higher education more accessible, affordable, and attractive by bridging the divide between high school and college; eliminate time wasted during the junior and senior years of high school and facilitate the transition of motivated students to higher education; provide intensive guidance and support from adults through the start of college coursework; and demonstrate new ways of integrating levels of schooling to better serve the intellectual and developmental needs of young people.[3]

For more information on the North Carolina Learn & Earn Early College Program, visit the North Carolina New Schools Project website:

The Gates Foundation Contributions[edit]

In 2002, the Early College High School Initiative launched, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Contributions from this organization, (totaling in over $124 million, as of 2008), assisted in the founding of over 230 early colleges across 28 of the 50 United States, 10 of these existing in North Carolina. It is because of these generous contributions that Isaac Bear and other like Early College programs have been able to sustain themselves.[4]


  • High School Core requirements are met in first two years of the student's high school education
  • 92% of early college students graduate high school versus the national rate of 69%
  • 86% of graduates enroll in college the next semester after high school graduation
  • 91% of early college graduates earn transferable college credit
  • 44% of graduates at schools open 4+ years earn at least one year of college credit
  • 24% of graduates at schools open 4+ years earn two years of college credit or an associate degree
  • 59% of early college students are classified as eligible for free or reduced lunch
  • Early Colleges are funded to target first generation college and/or low-income families.[5]

Isaac Bear itself, with the help of its staff, which consists of 23 members (not including cafeteria catering providers), has graduated 6 cohorts between 2010 and 2015. The graduating class of 2014 alone received a combined amount of over $3 million in scholarships, many of which have published or are in the process of publishing research with professors from the nearby University of North Carolina Wilmington. Almost every educator that provides learning to local students has many accolades and awards under he/she's name, and every teacher maintains at least one college degree and are certified teachers. The average Cumulative GPA of the fall 2015 cohort (60 students) was a 3.10. In a traditional class, a 9th and 10th grade at Isaac Bear will take 9 courses in the student's first year and 10 classes in he/she's second year, not including Physical Education or extracurricular clubs.

Per year at Isaac Bear, the student must work to document 50 hours of volunteering within the community, totaling at 200 hours. This system was designed to give back to the community that is responsible for Isaac Bear's success. For this purpose, Fridays at Isaac Bear Early College are cut to 1:15 in order for students to volunteer in their community.

In addition to this, the school day starts at 9am and ends at 4:15 on traditional days, which allows for students to perform more effectively in the classroom and prevents early morning traffic conflicts with buses.

Course of Study (9th Grade)[edit]

  • Honors English I and English II (blended, yearlong course)
  • Honors Chemistry I & Chemistry II (blended, yearlong course)
  • Two Math Courses (Honors Math I, Honors Math II, Honors Math III, Honors Discrete Math) (blended yearlong course)
  • Honors World History
  • Honors Civics & Economics
  • IT Academy - Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Publisher, and Digital integration. (Students will take an online certification test for the Technology courses and will be presented with a certificate for completing these.)

This Course of Study is dependent upon the student's previous course certifications, however in order to move up to the next grade, the student will have to have each class's requirements met. In the case that a student completes a course prior to their admission into Isaac Bear, in place of one or more of these classes, may take an online course in order to better their education on a subject not listed here.

Course of Study (10th Grade)[edit]

  • Honors English III and IV (blended, yearlong course)
  • Honors Earth/ Environmental Science
  • Honors Biology
  • Two Math Courses (Honors Math II, Honors Math III, honors Pre-Calculus, and Honors Calculus) (blended, yearlong course)
  • Honors American History I
  • Honors American History II
  • Spanish I
  • Spanish II

In he/she's sophomore year, the student may participate in 1 to 2 university classes, which most commonly replace a math course the student has taken prior to being enrolled to Isaac Bear, or completed before most of the student's peers.

Clubs and Partnerships[edit]

Isaac Bear offers many academic and extracurricular clubs including but not limited to:

  • Student Government - free to join by all members of the school, members participate in local service projects and work as a team to improve the schoo's outer appearance and inner workings.
  • Emerging Leaders - assists students in developing their leadership skills through group activities and discussions. In addition, students at Isaac Bear are required to participate in Launching Leaders activities, which usually consist of one or more guest speakers who educate the students on leadership and self-development.
  • Newspaper Club - Isaac Bear's newspaper is written by members of this club, who are assigned positions based on occupations of members of a real news firm. This club was newly established in the fall of 2015 with the rise of the graduating class of 2019.
  • Science Olympiad - (has placed up to 2nd place overall in competition and offers both a Junior Varsity and Varsity team) Members meet weekly to discuss upcoming competitions and to discuss new ideas.
  • Math Club - Placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in the Annual High School Mathematics division 2 competition in the years 2010-2015. The club has most recently earned 2nd place in March of 2017.
  • The Arts Club & Photography - members participate in extracurricular activities and learn about local craftmanship, including musicals and book readings that take place at the nearby University of North Carolina Wilmington, as well as downtown Wilmington.
  • Running Club - members are able to utilize the University of North Carolina Wilmington running track. This club is led by two of Isaac Bear's own teachers - Former Italian teacher and current Spanish educator Kitt Starnes, and freshman history teacher Morgan Mannion, who has had extensive sports experience prior to co-leading the club.
  • Yearbook Club - Besides having the chance to design the yearbook cover, members of this club act as the photographers and designers of the school's yearbook.
  • FBLA - Future Business Leaders of America (or FBLA) is a club that allows students to boost their business and career development skills. Members of this club, along with Interact and the Student Government Association, enact and participate in fundraisers in order to better their club and in some cases, take club/field trips.[6]

The Isaac Bear Early College High School has also partnered with the Wilmington Rotary Club to form its own certified Interact Club, in order to participate in local, national, and international service projects and "give back to the community that helped to found" the school and provide education for its students.[7] The high school has also in the past partnered with the Watson College of Education and Nelson Mandela University to host visiting International Interns.

Awards and Accolades[edit]

  • In 2016, Isaac Bear was recognized for its 100% graduation rate for 7 years in a row[8]
  • 19 - Dean's List
  • 5 - Chancellor Achievement Awards[9]
  • Since 2010, Isaac Bear has placed 1st, 2nd and 3rd in numerous County and statewide Science and Engineering Fair competitions, including national finalists.[10]
  • A select group of Isaac Bear students placed a number one win at the North Carolina State Championship in Charlotte, NC through a nonprofit organization called Port City Robotics in April 2016.[11]
  • Student Giovanni Budi received the Harvard Prize Book Award, an accolade only given to 6 other students across the United States.[12]

Other Information[edit]

  • In 2016, the Isaac Bear App became available on the Apple App Store through iTunes. This app allows parents and students to utilize push notifications that inform the user of upcoming events and updates in the school schedule and important events. The app is free and is also available to purchase by android users at the Google Play store.
  • Isaac Bear Early College High School has the highest state test scores in the New Hanover County Public School system.
  • For the convenience of the students, many teachers have Edmodo[13] pages which serve as a reminder for parents and students of assignments that are due in the close future. These pages are exclusive to each class period, which allows the student to form better relationships with he/she's classmates and allows to easily navigate their class' upcoming tests and projects. If a teacher does not own a class Edmodo page, they will have a Google Classroom[14][better source needed] learning space where students can upload assignments.
  • Isaac Bear offers a smart lunch period for 30 minutes after lunch, which is a time intended for working on assignments approaching their due dates and to study for quizzes and exams.
  • Many students at Isaac Bear utilize both tutoring after school and during SmartLunch. Tutoring can be arranged for every subject with either teachers of upperclassmen.

As a subsidiary of the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Isaac Bear and its students are able to participate in exclusive activities and access university buildings due to the school liaison, Dr. Keisha Bennett-Smith.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 34°13′07″N 77°52′43″W / 34.2185°N 77.8785°W / 34.2185; -77.8785