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Niner University Elementary Celebrates First Class Of 5th Grade Graduates

Families, friends and staff recently gathered in Cone University Center’s McKnight Hall to celebrate Niner University Elementary’s (NUE) first class of fifth grade graduates at their “moving on” ceremony.

Sixteen students, dressed in miniature Charlotte green graduation gowns, assembled in the front row of McKnight Hall. Families watched eagerly, their faces filled with pride and anticipation. Tears filled the eyes of parents and teachers as a slideshow of nostalgic photos of the fifth graders’ journey played, showcasing the strong NUE community.


Nestled in the heart of Charlotte’s Reid Park neighborhood, NUE is an elementary school in the historic Amay James Pre-K center, a building with a history dating back to the 1960s. The center has been a cornerstone of the community for generations, and some students have family ties to the school with grandparents who once attended.

Malcolm B. Butler, dean of UNC Charlotte’s Cato College of Education, has been an integral part of NUE’s journey. He stated, “This is a unique place. What happens here is about so much more than teaching and learning,” he says. “We recognize and honor the deep, rich history of the school. In fact, we are reminded of the history because we have some students whose grandparents attended the original Amay James school.”


NUE’s only principal, Pamela Broome, has been an educator for more than 25 years, serving as a teacher, school and district leader from Pre-K to 12 grade and community college. She understands the important role teachers and staff play in creating a culture of support and excellence. This is reflected in the NUE team.

Vanessa Hairston, one of NUE’s fourth-grade teachers, reflects on her positive experience teaching at the school over the past two years. “Being here at NUE is unique. You rarely find a school with social and emotional tools for the students,” Hairston said.

Jessica Caro is the school’s art instructor. She’s been at the school for close to four years. She taught the fifth-grade students when they were in second grade. “Watching the students grow from second to fifth grade confirms that what we are doing is working,” said Caro.

Marcia Britton, another dedicated teacher at the school, sums up the impact of their work. “Nothing is better than the feeling of when you see the lightbulb turn on and the child feels a sense of accomplishment–that makes it all worth it.”

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