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Advancement School

by Paul E. Kuhl, 2006

"City Memorial Hospital, 1924." The building was leased to the Advancement School. Image courtesy of Digital Forsyth. The North Carolina Advancement School in Winston-Salem was one of the education initiatives of Governor Terry Sanford (1961-65), who conceived it as a counterpart to the Gifted and Talented Programs begun in 1962. With North Carolina's school dropout rate among the nation's highest at 40 percent, Sanford wanted to address the needs of academic underachievers-those with average or above average abilities who were nevertheless performing poorly in school and likely to drop out. Sanford charged Ralph McCallister, formerly of Syracuse University and the Chautauqua Institute, with assembling educational experts to design a strategy to keep such underachievers in school. With a planning grant from the U.S. Office of Education, McCallister, working principally with Sanford adviser John Ehle and Harold Howe II, former superintendent of public schools in Scarsdale, N.Y., developed and proposed the Advancement School.

The Advancement School, like the North Carolina School of the Arts and the Governor's School for the Gifted, was to be a residential facility and a teaching laboratory and research center with three fundamental tasks: to assemble existing materials and techniques used to teach students achieving from one to three grades below national norms, to develop new materials and techniques to further students' achievement levels and educational aspirations, and to work with classroom teachers so that materials could be transferred from the residence-school setting to local schools.

In a unique arrangement, the Learning Institute of North Carolina (LINC), headed by Howe and located at the Quail Roost Conference Center in Rougemont, contracted with the State Board of Education to operate the Advancement School until 30 June 1967. With a combination of state funds and grants from the U.S. Office of Education and the Carnegie Corporation, Advancement School director Gordon L. McAndrew leased the vacated City Memorial Hospital from Winston-Salem. The Advancement School opened its doors to 82 boys for a six-week pilot session on 8 Nov. 1964.

In addition to instructional techniques, the Advancement School pioneered in race relations. Ten years after the landmark Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, only about 6 percent of the state's black children attended integrated schools. In the Advancement School's pilot session, there were 51 white children, 22 blacks, and 9 Native Americans. During the regular sessions, African American enrollment averaged 25 percent to 30 percent of the student body. The Advancement School established firm ties with schools in Hoke and Robeson Counties, and Native American enrollment in at least one session constituted about 40 percent of the student body. Donald G. Hayes, the assistant director, made room assignments without consideration to racial identity, a practice continued throughout the life of the school.

From November 1964 through June 1967, the Advancement School enrolled 2,331 students from 133 of the state's 169 school systems. Although the legislature approved continuation of the Advancement School beyond 1967, it drastically reduced the budget and placed the school under the supervision of the State Board of Education. The school enrolled only 144 students in January 1968, and after the spring 1969 session, enrollment dropped below 100. A nonresidency component was added, and after 1971 the school only enrolled day students. In its final three years, the Advancement School continued as a year-round day school for Winston-Salem students. In 1975 a budget crisis forced the legislature to make massive cuts. The state provided the Advancement School only enough funds to prepare a final report. A skeleton staff moved to Graylyn Estate on the campus of Wake Forest University, where it conducted a few more workshops, completed its report, and closed the school in 1976.


John N. Bridgman Jr. and Ernestine M. Godfrey, The Investigation and Treatment of Underachievement in North Carolina: Final Report, 1964-1976: The North Carolina Advancement School, Winston-Salem (1976).

Chester Davis, "North Carolina Advancement School: A New Approach to the Student Who Can Do . . . but Doesn't," Southern Education Report (July-August 1965).

Terry Sanford, But What about the People? (1966).

Additional Resources:

North Carolina Advancement School/Learning Institute of North Carolina, 1961-1967 and Undated, Ralph McCallister Papers, 1936-1985, UNC Libraries:,Ralph.html#d1e647

Advancement School by Godon McAndrew:

Thompson, Charles, et al. "The North Carolina Advancement School 1964-1967." 1967. ERIC No. ED 023 762. (accessed May 29, 2015).

Image Credit:

"City Memorial Hospital, 1924." Image courtesy of Digital Forsyth. Available from (accessed November 8, 2012).

Origin - location: 



I was a student Spring 66. I was in Mr. Samuel Ridge’s House (#8?). I returned in ‘67’ and attended public school there while trying to get into a prep school program. This school was my first exposure to integration. This was a life changing experience for a young African American boy. I have cherished this experience and still to this day I talk about these experiences. I love to know where I could find some of the counselors and former students.


Best School ever for myself. I was in house 8 Nov. 64
I believe it was Mr. Tippit's House 8
They taught me to think past where I found it. I found it there.
I still remember the two teachers that played guitars and sang sounds of silence.

Great School ,,, Should have never been canceled.

I'm now 70 years old and have accomplished 3, working on 4, Science Fiction novels being published.

by Eric Wilkins

Ancient Nemesis

ESTHREP ='s Extra Solar Technological Human Robotic Exploration Probe

EURALS='s Earth Underground Rotational Launch System

All available at Amazon Books


Just type this in on FaceBook. NC Advancement School. Your welcome to use anything I put there. I have some post there and there is even a picture of me in one of the classroom shots. I posted our graduation program there as well. My mother kept everything except for my baseball cards. If you went to the Advancement School, the "Chicken and Honey" ought to ring a bell. They kept us busy not only with classwork but lots of sports programs, taking us to movies, YMCA for swimming, bowling alley, They even had Cale Yarborough bring his racecar to the school one night. They took us on weekend trips to the mountains, took us to Fort Bragg and had us run the obstacle course. That wasn't fun. Interesting experience.


I remember going to this school when I was in the 8th grade. I remember one of my teachers named Mr. Moss. He was very strict with the students. I remember him grabbing my cheek and twisting it really hard. He did this all the time. He was a mean (teacher) person. I think the school helped me somewhat. I finished high school(Goldsboro High School). I then started school at Wayne Community in Goldsboro(N.C.) I quit the 1st year in school and joined the U.S, Army. I ended up in vietnam for a year. I ended up retiring from the Army. So I think the advancement school help me by changing my attitude about education and life.


I attended the Advancement School for fifth grade in 1972-73. It turned me around in the best possible way. As a white kid, I was in the minority - and from my black classmates, I learned empathy, compassion, and discovered my career path as a teacher. I went on to significant academic success, but it started in the old City Hospital at the Advancement School among good friends.


Hi David,
My story is the same as yours(72-73 5th grade), well with the exception that my career ended up being a mother of 6 but I did go to Forsyth technical college and get my associate degree in building trades drafting and mechanical drafting. I also was an entrepreneur as I owned my mini-farm run by me and my children then later 2 restaurants. I loved most of the students there and I definitely loved the teachers/administrators but most of all I loved the fact that each one of us had Our own individual pre evaluated learning system tailored to fit your testing scores and learning speed. My IQ and psych evaluation set me high above the norm so I was bored with regular public school and would not do their busy work plus I always made A's on tests but never turned in daily work or reports and projects. I was then recommended to go to the North Carolina advancement school So when I left The North Carolina advancement school I was sitting at 2nd year college on some subjects like a literature and science and my math skills were at least 2 years ahead of where I was supposed to be when I left the place. If you remember they encouraged creativity and freedom to express yourself so I developed a lot of confidence that year and my ability to express myself and stand up for What I believed in had increased exponentially. I thank God for that program, it is a crying shame it was shut down due to budget cuts and I really wish they would implement that to our public school systems now. David if you wish you can find me on Facebook So you knew me as Sandra Cheek but my married name is Norman. My husband passed away when I was 28 but I kept his last name.


I attended the winter session 1966. I was from an all African American school in rural Craven County. I didn't learn until years later when the guidance counselor informed me the school was designed for under achieving students and that my application for the NC Governor's School was turned down. I was a pretty good student, at least at my school, with mostly A's. Going in, I thought it was mostly about integration. I felt out of place almost immediately.

But it was a racial incident that is seared in my memory above all else. After two or three weeks, I made it to the #2 spot of the academic ladder. Each Friday, they posted the list and we would crowd around to see our positions. The top three students were always taken out to a steak dinner. I remember getting a tutorial on eating at a fancy restaurant. The five of us (three students, the head of school and someone else) arrive at the restaurant. In hindsight it was probably a private club of some sort. There was a commotion at the entrance. I remember the head of school saying we've never had a problem before. He raised his voice in disgust. It didn't matter. We are denied entrance because I'm Black. I was no stranger to segregation or Jim Crow, but it did hurt. They were willing to let the others in. We all ended up at McDonald's, which is where a 13-year would want to be anyway. McDonald's became the go-to place from that point forward. Perhaps it was that incident caused the life long soft spot for McDonald's.

When I returned to my home school, things didn't go well. I was far ahead of the other students, so I guess I have NCAS to thank for that. I was offered admission to a prestigious New England prep school. I turned it down as my father was ill. I ended up running the family farm and finishing high school. I finished college at UNCG, of all places, and became an editor of a business magazine in Washington, D.C. Later, I married my college sweetheart and joined a major consumer package good company in New York. I retired recently as a Vice President in Human Resources. I guess it all worked out. I would love to learn more and reconnect with some of the fellas.


There is a Facebook page for the NC Advancement School where you can see some fellas comments.


Dear Mr. Cox,

Thank you very much for sharing your story.

Mike Millner, NC Government & Heritage Library


Of course. Some years ago I went on line to research NCAC. I was curious. I had said in retirement I wanted to do more. Perhaps I'll get around to that. It was an interesting period in my life. I would like to know what became of a few of the fellas I was close to. I attended NCAS along with a kid from my home town. He was also African American. We lost touch after he joined the military after high school choosing not to attend college. He passed away prematurely.

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