Rocky Mount Telegram, October 24, 2018, by Amelia Harper
The Rocky Mount branch of the NAACP hosted a special education forum Tuesday to allow representatives of the N.C Justice Center to share information about state education.
Two Edgecombe County principals from the school district’s northern Innovation Zone also shared strategies that Edgecombe County Public Schools is using at certain schools operating under the state-approved restart model.
Kristopher Nordstrom, a senior policy analyst at the N.C. Justice Center, gave a presentation about the current state of educational affairs in the state.
“Years of mismanagement and under-investment are undermining North Carolina’a public schools,” Nordstrom said.
Nordstrom said the public school system has been undermined because lawmakers have denied schools the resources needed to allow students to flourish, prioritized school choice and implemented half-baked underfunded versions of school initiatives that have failed in other parts of the country.
Nordstrom encouraged participants to support a new plan that promotes “human flourishing.”
“Children are paying the price for these policies,” Nordstrom said. “We should be investing in policies that are beneficial to all students and boost student achievement.”
Sarah Montgomery, a policy advocate with the N.C. Justice Center, encouraged attendees to vote for candidates that will support public education. She also introduced Jennifer O’Meara of Philips Middle School and Donnell Cannon of North Edgecombe High School.
The two principals shared some of the strategies they are using in the Innovation Zone at the northern end of the county where all three schools are operating under a restart model that allow greater flexibility in handling personnel, funding, curriculum and the school calendar. Some of these changes include the implementation of Public Impact’s Opportunity Culture model that allows exceptional teachers to stay in the classroom while still mentoring less-experienced teachers, earlier starting dates for schools in the zone and the implementation of a trial “micro school” that allows students to use design thinking to solve problems.
Both principals spoke passionately about the new model.
“We hope to be able to scale the micro school model beyond the school year because it allows for a more enriching experience across several grade levels,” Cannon said.
“We truly believe that this is what equity looks like,” she said.
O’Meara emphasized that education is a complicated issue and that a single solution does not fit all schools.
Shelton Jefferies, superintendent of Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools, spoke highly of the two young principals.
“We talk a lot about policy and strategies, but the linchpin of success in schools is a dynamic leader,” Jefferies told the principals. “You are examples of the reason public education will succeed.”
Several candidates spoke briefly at the event about the issues they consider important in the coming election. These candidates included Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education District 8 member Reginald Silver; school board District 2 candidate Dean Edwards; Albert Pacer, who is running for the state Senate District 11 seat; and Nash County commissioner Mary Wells and candidate Bruce Berry, who are both running for the District 6 seat on the Nash County Board of Commissioners.
Originally posted on Rocky Mount Telegram. No longer available in newspaper archive.