On May 5, the NC Chamber was honored to host three education leaders from our state: Peter Hans, president of the NC Community College System; Dr. Randy Woodson, chancellor of NC State University; and Dr. Anthony Jackson, superintendent of Vance County Schools and NC Superintendent of the Year. They shared valuable lessons learned during the last few months and their vision for reimagining education in a COVID-19 world.
“The key to North Carolina’s future is education, education, education,” said Hans. All three panelists emphasized that education is critical to a prosperous path forward and will ensure that North Carolinians recover and thrive. Dr. Jackson explained how K-12 schools will partner with parents and families in a new way as a result of remote learning experiences. He shared how schools are responding to the challenges of COVID-19 with optimism and grace; making it an opportunity to take best practices for future success. “Not all learning takes place in a formal classroom,” he said.
Continuing with the theme of non-traditional learning, Dr. Woodson addressed how NC State’s College of Education will continue to advance its curriculum for a hybrid of online and in-person learning to best prepare our teachers. He also discussed the university’s work in supplying Personal Protective Equipment – collaborating with Brooks Brothers and Hanes to produce small face shields for children in hospitals using 3D printers.
Hans shared how the NC Community College System is responding to a spike in enrollment due to the state’s record high unemployment rates, and many more adult learners needing to reskill or upskill. “You can count on us 100%,” he said. Community colleges had witnessed an increased enrollment prior to COVID-19, so he stated they were already planning for continued growth. Hans expressed why now, more than ever, businesses must partner with local colleges to identify the skills in great demand to best customize job training.
The panelists also spoke about plans for the fall. “We believe in the community of scholars. We can’t wait to get students back to our campus and interacting with their peers and faculty,” said Dr. Woodson. Dr. Jackson discussed the mental health of families and faculty and ways schools are already addressing social and emotional needs through teletherapy and building mentorships with community organizations. When schools reopen, Dr. Jackson said, “We must continue to care for each other.”
Thank you to our panelists for their insightful dialogue on a thoughtful road forward for students, families, and faculty that is paved with grace and resiliency.