"Serving the County of Wise, the City of Norton, and the Towns of Appalachia, Big Stone Gap, Coeburn, Pound, St. Paul, and Wise."

Educational Facilities

Wise County Public Schools

The Wise County School Division is comprised of six elementary schools, three middle schools, three high schools, an alternative school, and a career-technical center.  From 14 sites, the schools offer a full range of K-12 programs serving approximately 6,000 students. A Title I funded program for four-year-olds is operating in each primary school.  Each secondary school offers a range of courses suitable for the students who plan to continue education after high school or for those who plan to go directly into the workforce.  All schools in Wise County are accredited by the Virginia Board of Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.  Aggressive leadership by administrators, teachers, and coaches has made Wise County students highly competitive, both academically and athletically, with students in other school divisions throughout the state.



From a 2011-2012 budget of $70,000,000, the school division employs a full and part-time staff of approximately 1,300 persons, 580 of whom are teachers.  The total pupil-teacher ratio for Wise County Schools is approximately 14:1.  The salary scale for teachers progresses from a beginning salary of $34,000 to a maximum of $59,197.  The expenditure per pupil in Wise County for school year 2011-2012 was approximately $10,300.

The Wise County Public School System, in cooperation with the Commonwealth of Virginia, opened the Wise County Vocational-Technical Center in 1942 to serve high school students choosing training in craft and trade areas to seek employment.  The facility, located in Wise, was one of the first in the state.  In its place today stands a new, innovative Career-Technical Center that offers highly technical skilled training in Nursing, Computer Systems Technology, Computer Aided Drafting, Cosmetology, Nail Technology, Culinary Arts,  Criminal Justice, AFJROTC, Auto Service Technology, Welding, Building Trades, Electricity/HVAC, Personal Finance and U.S.History/Government.

The primary goal of the Wise County Technology Department is to provide a reliable, state of the art technology infrastructure to include instructional and administrative software, hardware, support, and training for all staff and students.  It is our belief that this is essential in order to provide a 21st century education and in doing so prepare our students for the future.  Wise County Schools has a high speed fiber and wireless network to allow for web based instructional management, which supports streaming video, video conferencing, online library programs, Governor’s School, Advanced Placement Virtual Classroom, and locally hosted learning management system, etc.  This includes support for web based applications, such as Interactive Achievement and Renaissance Place, as well as support of the state required online testing.

 Special needs of students are the primary concern of all instructional staff.  Programs to meet individual needs are: the Regional Learning Academy, the Transition Program, the Adult Education Program, Special Education, Gifted and Talented programs, the Governor’s School, and dual-enrollment programs with local colleges.

Wise County is the site of two institutions of higher education –The University of Virginia’s College at Wise and Mountain Empire Community College. The leadership of Wise County Public Schools and the two colleges have worked cooperatively to provide Wise County students with many learning opportunities.  Visit them on their Web site: www.wise.k12.va.us.

Norton City Schools

Norton City Public Schools is a two-school system serving the City of Norton, Virginia. The system employs more than 150 contract and non-contract employees. Members of the Norton City School Board are elected to serve four-year terms.

Norton Elementary andNorton Elementary School Middle School enrolled over approximately 760 students and is a state of the art education facility which recently underwent a $7 million renovation project which includes a new library, gymnasium, and administration wing. The Core-Knowledge Pre-School is an early intervention program that sets the stage for a strong academic program. Instruction, emphasizing basic math and reading, is provided by a well-trained faculty and extensive support staff. Parallel Block Scheduling in the primary grades provides the structure for a comprehensive reading program. Instruction is provided in both large and small groups, using interventions which help make every student a successful reader. Students receive daily instruction in language arts, mathematics, social studies, science, and health. Special education and gifted programs are also offered to meet student needs. Specialists provide instruction in art, choral and instrumental music, remedial reading, guidance, library, physical education, and technology.

The school includes a science laboratory, two modern computer laboratories, a multi-purpose room, reading-language arts laboratories, and playground areas. All classrooms and computer laboratories are networked to the library and to the Internet. Programs such as Reading are Fundamental, Accelerated Reader, Saxon Phonics, Homework Hotline, Dropout Prevention, and the After-School Program supplement the instructional program.J.I. Burton High School

John I. Burton High School, which opened in 1954 and has been extensively renovated over the past decade, provides modern educational facilities for students in grades 8-12. The instructional program includes a comprehensive program of academic, technological, vocational, and elective classes. The academic program includes honors-level classes in English, biology, mathematics, and foreign language, as well as Advanced Placement (AP) English 11 and 12. The school also offers its students access to a number of resources outside of the traditional classroom setting, which include the A. Linwood Holton Governor’s School, SVETN, as well as Dual Enrollment opportunities through both Mountain Empire Community College and the University of Virginia’s College at Wise.

The vocational program includes skills-development courses in business education, family and consumer sciences, and technology education. Students in grades 10-12 may also attend the Wise County Vocational-Technical School for other vocational specialties. Electives include a full range of fine arts opportunities including general and advanced art, choral and instrumental music, and dramatics. The school also offers programs in alternative education, gifted education, and special education.           

The academic and vocational programs are supported by well trained faculty and staff. Four different micro-computer laboratories and an extensive collection of computer software are available to enhance instruction. Each classroom is networked by computer and television to the library and the Internet. The school also includes an interactive television laboratory networked to other Virginia school systems, community colleges, and universities. Programs such as the Accelerated Reader Program and a Homework Hotline supplement the instructional program.

Norton Elementary and Middle School and John I. Burton High School are fully accredited by the Virginia Department of Education and recently completed district accreditation by AdvancEd. Visit them on their Web site: www.nortoncityschools.org.




Wise County Christian School


Wise County Christian School is a non-profit, non-denominational Christian education facility offering grades Pre-K - 12. In order to fulfill its goal of providing a quality Christ-centered education, Wise County Christian School strives to provide the following:

  • Christian philosophy of education in every subject
  • Academic excellence in a Christian environment conductive to learning
  • Christian teachers, staff, administrator, and Board
  • Daily devotions and Bible classes
  • Good discipline that is firm and fair
  • Strong moral and character training
  • Patriotism consistent with God’s law

Colleges and Universities

The University of Virginia's College at Wise 

Ranked among the nation’s top ten public liberal arts colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The University of Virginia’s College at Wise (UVa-Wise) offers undergraduate and professional programs in the liberal arts tradition of Thomas Jefferson. UVa-C. Bascom Slemp Student Center at UVA-WiseWise also offers Virginia's four-year degree in software engineering. UVa-Wise provides students with all the advantages of a small private college, combined with the resources of one of the nation’s most outstanding public universities. Talented faculty guide students through fields of study, producing graduates who think critically and communicate effectively.

UVa-Wise opened the doors of the David J. Prior Convocation Center in the fall of 2011. The center seats 3,000 people for sporting events and 4,000 people for concerts and other performances. The Convocation Center offers Southwest Virginia its first large venue to house various events, concerts, and conventions.

Founded in 1954 on Jefferson’s principles of a liberal arts education, UVa-Wise is the embodiment of his "academical village." Inspired by Jefferson’s vision, local citizens worked with the University of Virginia, the College’s parent institution, to establish a college in the mountains.


The library at the University of Virginia’s College at Wise is a new $37 million facility featuring 68,000 square feet of space over six oors.  It provides students with a lively and inviting place for study, research and recreational reading.  When the College is in session, the library is open seven days a week for a total of 77 1/2 hours of operation. In addition to print and online holdings, the new building contains a formal reading room, a special collections area, “Smart Group” classrooms, twelve collaborative study rooms, computers for patron use, wireless connectivity, and a 24-hour study space.

 Fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, UVa-Wise offers baccalaureate degrees in 24 liberal arts and professional programs of study. About 1,900 students study at UVa-Wise’s 350-acre main campus and at the College's Extended Learning facility located at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Abingdon. Visit the College's Web site at www.uvawise.edu.




Mountain Empire Community College


Mountain Empire Community College is a high-tech, student-focused higher education institution located on a beautiful 100-wooded acre campus in Big Stone Gap. Mountain Empire is a 1998 recipient of the United States Senate Productivity and Quality Award in recognition of its high-quality educational programs, business and industry training, and community services to residents of Wise County, the City of Norton, and the surrounding region.

MECC's Campus at Big Stone Gap

Mountain Empire enrolls approximately 7,600 credit and non-credit students annually. The College is fully accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and offers certificates and associate degrees in over 40 occupational-technical and college transfer programs. Distance learning is a high-quality, flexible option for today’s non-traditional students who are unable to attend regular classes at on-campus and off-campus sites. Old Dominion University offers courses on the Mountain Empire campus and provides students the opportunity to continue their studies and obtain bachelor and master degrees.

Mountain Empire provides pre-employment, start-up, and retraining services for the area's workforce through the Center for Workforce Development. Customized training is available to employers at their place of business or at a convenient campus or off-campus location. The Small Business Development Center provides information, in-depth counseling, and referrals for existing and start-up businesses. Visit the College’s web site at http://www.mecc.edu.