Reimagining Education In Eastern North Carolina
Rural Summit organizes a diverse network of leaders looking to build a more equitable future for kids.
This April, over 200 Teach For America corps members and alumni as well 30 local teachers, school leaders, and community members engaged with thought leaders at Teach For America—Eastern North Carolina’s annual Policy, Advocacy, and Community Engagement (PACE) Summit in Raleigh, NC.
This year’s PACE Summit was themed “Reimagining Education in Eastern North Carolina” and it served as an important step in actually building that future together.
“Innovation is messy work. There is no prescribed recipe for ending educational inequity, but with a commitment to excellence, the development of strong relationships, and an ever-growing network, I believe we’ll be able to reach the transformative change we hope to see in schools,” Heather Scriven, a current TFA-ENC corps member, pointed out.
With a variety of individual perspectives and experiences coming together at Needham Broughton High School in Raleigh, the day-long event served as an opportunity to inspire action addressing systemic inequities in rural classrooms. The summit is also one of many annual opportunities for TFA corps members and alumni to develop the necessary skills needed to advance their individual and collective impact as leaders.
“Engaging in conversations about educational equity and sharing our perspectives from our classrooms is how we advance change,” first year corps member David Jones said. “We should never stop organizing these things because we’ll stop learning and improving.”
With nearly 20 learning sessions and conversations about fostering a culture of innovation in schools, the fundamentals of organizing, dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, and using challenge-based learning in classrooms, attendees and presenters left better prepared to advocate for the needs of local students.
“It was wonderful being in a room with people so willing and able to dive into problem-based and challenge-based learning, and who came to the table with hard-hitting questions. I loved the experience; it excites me,” said Ernie Levroney, session leader and co-founder of PRIME Schools in Los Angeles. “I was impressed by the caliber and passion of every teacher that I got to work with today,” said Grace Cruz, also a co-founder of PRIME Schools.
A diverse network of TFA alums took advantage of this opportunity to continue their growth and learning as leaders, whether that be inside or outside the classroom.
Veronica Brooks-Uy, a 2007 Louisiana corps member, was in attendance. “Since moving to North Carolina, I haven’t felt like I’ve been able to connect to the education community here in the same way yet. I still work in education, so today was an opportunity to engage with the people here,” she said.
Martine Aurelien, a 2013 TFA-ENC alum now studying public policy at Duke University, left re-grounded in what makes systemic change possible. “Now that I’m out of a classroom, it was nice to be reminded of the power and influence we all have in reimagining education here. Collectively, we all have a role to play.”
With a desire to expand her knowledge and build partnerships, Destine Statum, a student at NC State and current intern with the Read to Lead program at NC State Women’s Center, attended too. “I want everyone to feel like their needs are being addressed in my spaces so I’m going to be a sponge today,” she said prior to opening remarks by Andrew Lakis, Executive Director of TFA-ENC.
Noman Ahmed, who left a career in accounting recently, is now on the front lines of this change. Accepted into the 2017 corps, Noman will participant in the ENC region’s residency program this summer before stepping into the classroom next fall.
“I learned more about our school system and how it’s organized today,” he reflected at a post-summit gathering. “I left grounded in the reality that if you want to achieve change, you’ve got to bring the whole community into the process. No one does things single-handedly.”
As second year corps member Hillary Braden put it, “I definitely have a role in advocating for change. But we’re neighbors, and we all need to be working together too.”
For more information and images from the PACE Summit and updates on future activities, follow TFA-ENC on Facebook.