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210 Pittsboro Street, Campus Box 6210
Chapel Hill, NC  27599-6210
(919) 962-2091   FAX: (919) 962-2279


Not for publication May 14, 1999 -- No.335


Local angles: Morganton, Chimney Rock

Tar Heel Bus Tour faculty visit English as a Second Language and small-town economic development programs, hear bluegrass music

 Wednesday, May 19
A visit to the English as a Second Language Program at Hillcrest Elementary School in Morganton is a highlight of Wednesday’s Tar Heel Bus Tour. Later, participants will visit with officials from the Small Towns Leadership Development Initiative in Chimney Rock. The day will end at Lake Lure Inn with dinner, bluegrass music and dancing.

Thirty-four new faculty and administrators from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are traveling throughout the state as part of the weeklong 1999 Tar Heel Bus Tour. The bus tour’s 15 stops are designed to teach newcomers about North Carolina’s geography, economy, culture, history, education system and health and social issues. The mobile classroom will cover 1,200 miles through 31 counties by Friday (May 21). Carolina is just one of a handful of major public universities that take new faculty and administrators on tours of their states.

Carolina is an internationally renowned research institution that attracts faculty from across the globe. Yet 82 percent of her undergraduate students hail from North Carolina. The privately funded bus tour allows new faculty -- some of whom have never stepped foot outside the Triangle -- to meet the people whose taxes support their paychecks and offers them insight into where their students come from.

Wednesday’s schedule:

11 a.m. Hillcrest Elementary School, English as a Second Language Program, Morganton

1:45 p.m. Small Towns Leadership Development Initiative, Chimney Rock

6:30 p.m. Dinner, bluegrass music and dancing, Lake Lure Inn

North Carolina has experienced unprecedented growth in the number of Limited English Proficient (LEP) students during the last decade, making these students the state’s fastest growing population. This stop will highlight the efforts of Burke County Public Schools to serve 1,149 students speaking 19 foreign languages. About 21 percent of students attending Hillcrest Elementary School in Morganton participate in ESL programs. The visit will demonstrate the assimilation not only of LEP students to their school and community, but also that of the school and community to the LEP students.

The far western region of the state is mostly rural and relatively remote from the urban centers of North Carolina and, thus, lacks a clearly defined economic center. More than half of the counties in this region are classified as "economically distressed" by the N.C. Department of Commerce. Small, rural towns dominate this region, offering little local tax revenue. These towns have difficulty competing in business incentive wars with other communities with more money and better infrastructure. The Small Towns Leadership Development Initiative in Chimney Rock prepares citizens in rural western North Carolina towns for community leadership and helps them establish ongoing partnerships with public, private and non-profit sectors to economically revitalize their communities. This project is part of the UNC-CH’s Institute of Government’s Civic Education Consortium, which seeks to promote more active citizenship across the state.

Media availability: Tour hosts and participants are available for print and broadcast interviews at stops or by cellular phone by calling Karen Stinneford at 919-218-2380, pager 919-216-4653. Reporters, photographers and videographers may ride on legs of the tour by advance arrangement with News Services.

Photos on the World Wide Web: To download photos posted daily from the tour, visit

For more information: For additional information about the university, the Tar Heel Bus Tour, tour participants, directions or site visits, call News Services at 919-962-2091. Or visit the Web site at

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