The Watauga County Schools system serves a total of 4,400 students in eight K-8 schools and one comprehensive high school. Our district enjoys a long- standing reputation for excellence thanks to exceptional teachers and a community that values and supports public education. Parents, local businesses, the Watauga Education Foundation, civic groups, and our County Commissioners are all engaged in our work and committed to student success. We also benefit greatly from our partnerships with Appalachian State University and Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute.
Our schools emphasize the value of educating the whole child and we work hard to provide students with a balanced education. Excellence in academics is expected, but we also recognize the importance of helping students develop social and emotional skills, an appreciation for the arts and diverse cultures, and the habits and values that prepare them to grow into responsible, productive citizens and lifelong learners.
The K-8 schools operate on a "school within a school" model in which middle school students and younger students use separate parts of each building for their classes. Each K-8 school offers an Extended Learning Center (afterschool program) for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Five schools also offer pre-kindergarten classes. The state currently limits enrollment in pre-k classes to students meeting specific "at risk" criteria.
Our K-8 students and our students at Watauga High School consistently outperform their statewide peers on the state's required tests of academic proficiency. Students at the high school achieve the second highest SAT scores out of the 115 school districts in NC. Much of this can be attributed to the outstanding quality of our teachers. Our faculty demonstrates exceptional caring and commitment in their work, backed up by strong professional credentials. A higher percentage of our faculty has completed an advanced degree than have teachers statewide, and we have the third highest proportion of teachers with National Board Certification (the highest professional credential available in the profession) in the state.
In addition to strong instruction in core academics, Watauga High School offers a full range of opportunities in athletics, art and music; an award wining drama program; a JROTC program, and the best career and technical education offerings of any comprehensive high school in NC. Our high school was one of the first in NC to offer a 1:1 laptop program for students. The high school building, constructed in 2010, is a silver-certified LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) facility. Geothermal heat pumps, solar water heating, LED lighting with room occupancy sensors, and use of captured rainwater for irrigation are just a few of the resource conservation measures built into the high school.
Watauga County is situated in the southern Appalachian Mountains in northwestern North Carolina. The mountain climate features considerably milder summers (average high temperatures in the upper 70s) and colder winters (average of 34" of snowfall annually) than most of the state. There are abundant opportunities for outdoor recreation in the area, from snow skiing to whitewater rafting to hiking. A growing greenway system offers an easily accessible way to stay active with walking, jogging, biking, birding, and other pursuits.
The county population is approximately 53,000, about 18,000 of whom live in Boone, the county seat and home of Appalachian State University. The presence of the university and a strong tourism economy give the area greater cultural opportunities and a broader range of services than are typically found in a community of this size.
The video below showcases the qualities that make Watauga County a special place to learn, live, work, and play.