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Burke County Public Schools

Burke County Public Schools (BCPS)

The mission of Burke County Public Schools (BCPS) is to provide opportunities for its 14,000 students to acquire the knowledge and attitudes that will enable them to function successfully as responsible citizens; to choose careers commensurate with their interests, needs and abilities; and to develop a sense of lifelong learning. The Burke County Public School System is committed to excellence, and through the dedication of an elected seven-member board, the superintendent and teamwork of the associate superintendent, directors, faculty and staff members, superiority is present at all of the system’s 29 schools.

Symbolizing Burke County’s dedication to furthering education is the system’s community foundation program with a vision that will guarantee each high school graduate a two-year tuition free education at Western Piedmont Community College. Another sign of the high priority given to education in the county is the construction of two new high schools. Patton High School opened its doors in 2007, and Draughn High School will open in fall 2008. Recently, new auxiliary gyms for the older high schools were constructed, and the school system built a state-of-the-art culinary arts center to offer training to students interested in food service careers.

The schools in the system are united in their effort to offer students the best education from the pre-kindergarten years to high school and are creative in designing and providing programs so each child can experience success. The nationally recognized school system is an integral part of the community, as is shown by the dramatic results of bold innovation and leadership development, as well as its philosophy of good education, good economy.


Burke County began a pioneering project 13 years ago to reduce class sizes to 15 students per teacher in the early grades. The class-size reduction program resulted from close cooperation between the school board and the community and benefited from local, state and national funding. Public Schools Superintendent David Burleson said, “The best thing to come out of all this is that students are treated as individuals.” The change brought more focus on individual needs, especially at-risk pupils who particularly benefit from smaller classes. Burke County’s public schools are also keeping pace with national trends such as meeting the influx of students speaking English as a second language and meeting the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind program.

To build leadership and good citizenry as well as offer successful education, the Burke County Public School System has strong comprehensive programs including preschool community mobile classrooms; a mobile art bus/classroom for elementary children; utilization of prioritized curriculum and standard course of study, work and career-based learning; and sports and extra curricular activities. The overall school system is dedicated to small learning communities, the development of lifelong learning, strong technology programs, differentiated instruction and high expectations. Academically gifted programs are creative and available. With $10 million in grant resources and a devotion to teaching, it is not surprising that the BCPS system boasts consistent and continual improvement scores.

North Carolina School for the Deaf

The North Carolina School for the Deaf is a day/ residential facility for the education of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Established in 1894 on a beautiful 160-acre campus in Morganton, the school’s mission is to offer “education opportunities for eligible students ages birth to 21 and their families so that students can develop the skills necessary to lead productive lives.”

The New Dimensions School

Burke County’s only public charter school, the New Dimensions School, is a small, tuition-free school founded on the concept of individual growth through strong partnership between students, teachers, homes and community. Here, children in kindergarten through fifth grade engage in self- directed, often highly creative activity intended to foster this personal growth. The core values of the school emphasize the emergence of latent talents in each child by exploring new frontiers in learning, by learning through doing, and by striving for competence wherever challenges arise.

Academic excellence blossoms from the nutrient culture of student’s interests and abilities, nurtured by this special learning environment.

Private Educational Opportunities

Morganton Day School

Morganton Day School

A private co-ed elementary school based on a philosophy of “experiential, holistic education,” Morganton Day School emphasizes social awareness (through community service) as well as a stimulating educational environment. Founded by four families in 1978, MDS engages students through an integrated curriculum that includes the NC Standard Course of Study as well as outside resources. The school creates lifelong learners able to integrate the lessons of the classroom with real-life challenges.

Morganton Christian Academy

A Bible-based curriculum and intensive one-on-one learning are the educational values offered by this private, Pre-K through 12 academy. Youth programs and athletics round out the faith-directed program here.

Silver Creek Adventist School

As part of the faith-based Seventh Day Adventist educational system, the Silver Creek School is dedicated to “spiritual nurture and educational excellence.” The 1-12 grade curriculum holds Christ and the Scriptures as its core values.

Western Piedmont Community College

With annual enrollments surpassing 13,000, WPCC is the seat of higher education in Burke County, whose motto is “Where Learning is a Lifestyle.” Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and offering associate degrees, the four academic divisions at WPCC consist of Business Technologies, Health Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Natural Sciences and Engineering. The college’s Law Enforcement Training program is another major focus of enrollment, as is WPCC’s various occupational training and small business courses leading to licensure and certification. Lifelong learning programs such as adult basic education attract many retirees from the local community. The college is a thriving and rapidly expanding part of Burke County, a vital contributor to both businesses and state agencies located here.

Phifer Learning Resource Center

This bright, open, 46,000-square-foot library located on the main campus has an online catalog, offers support to distance learning, and contains classrooms, a conference center, and audiovisual facilities as well as a large circulating collection. The PLRS maintains an online “Ask a Librarian” reference service and multiple computer stations for Internet access.

Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr. Library

Located on the main floor of the Phifer Learning Resource Center, the Senator Sam Library houses 7,500 items of books, papers, furniture, and personal memorabilia of the late senator, renowned as the Chairman of the Watergate Investigation Committee and an astute political observer.


The Burke County Public Library system is the community’s free source of information services in formats ranging from books and periodicals to the latest electronic technology.

Through its libraries in Morganton, Valdese and Hildebran, the county library system keeps its members in touch with their community and the world. With its mission of meeting its user’s “informational, educational, and recreational needs,” the library offers adult, young adult and children’s programs throughout the year. As a case in point, take the adult summer reading program called “Kick Back and Read.” The library also schedules speakers and book signings on a regular basis, which are free and open to all.

North Carolina Room

The rich history of Burke County and western North Carolina is preserved among the many books, periodicals, microfilmed newspapers, family genealogies and other media maintained in this special room of the Burke County Public Library. Here, researchers perform much of the groundwork for new books and articles, for family research and other ventures. Whether the subject be aspects of mountain life in colonial times or statistics on furniture production, the NC Room is a “must visit” trove of information.


Burke County Public Elementary Schools (K-5)
Chesterfield Elementary School — (828) 437-3026
Drexel Primary School — (828) 437-3160
Forest Hill Elementary School — (828) 437-5906
George Hildebrand Elementary School — (828) 879-9595
Glen Alpine Elementary School — (828) 584-0661
Hallyburton Elementary School — (828) 437-4184
Hildebran Elementary School — (828) 397-3181
Hillcrest Elementary School — (828) 437-4258
Icard Elementary School — (828) 397-3491
Mountain View Elementary School — (828) 437-1584
Mull Elementary School — (828) 437-5785
Oak Hill Elementary School — (828) 433-1533
Ray Childers Elementary School — (828) 324-1340
Rutherford College Elementary School — (828) 879-8870
Salem Elementary School — (828) 437-5901
Valdese Elementary School — (828) 874-0704
W. A. Young Elementary School — (828) 584-0632

Burke County Public Middle Schools (6-8)
East Burke Middle School — (828) 397-7446
Heritage Middle School — (828) 874-0731
Liberty Middle School — (828) 437-1330
Table Rock Middle School — (828) 437-5212
Walter R. Johnson Middle School — (828) 430-7340
Burke County Public High Schools (9-12)
East Burke High School — (828) 397-5541
Freedom High School — (828) 433-1310
Patton High School — (828) 433-3000
Draughn High School to open in Fall 2008
Burke Middle College at WPCC — (828) 430-7100
Burke County Public Alternative Schools (7-12)
Burke Alternative School East — (828) 397-6175
Burke Alternative School West — (828) 433-1113

Burke County Public Special Needs School (K-12)
North Liberty School — (828) 437-9656

Charter School
New Dimensions (Charter) School (K-5) — (828) 437-5753

Private Schools
Morganton Christian Academy (Pre-K-12) — (828) 437-1897
Morganton Day School (K-8) — (828) 437-6782
Silver Creek Adventist School (1-12) — (828) 584-3010
North Carolina School for the Deaf — (828) 432-5200
Broughton Hospital-Enola School — (828) 433-2302

Community College
Western Piedmont Community College — (828) 438-6000

Colleges and Universities
The following colleges and universities offer extension courses in Burke County:

Appalachian State University — (828) 262-2000
Gardner Webb University — (704) 406-4000
Lees-McRae College — (828) 898-5241
Lenoir-Rhyne College — (828) 328-1741
Western Carolina University — (828) 227-7211

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