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A recap from the March State Board meeting

A note from Nation

Welcome to Awake58 — EdNC’s newsletter focused on community colleges and the postsecondary landscape in North Carolina. We appreciate you allowing us into your inbox this week.  If you received this email without a subscription, please click here to subscribe to this newsletter. If you missed last week’s edition of Awake58, find it here.

A recap of the State Board of Community Colleges’ meeting… Spotlight on Excellence in Teaching award winner… Edgecombe’s Scholar Teachers program… House Select Committee hears from education leaders in Union County… A suggested next step for N.C.’s Career & College Promise Program… 

Good morning,

Emily here, stepping in for Nation this week. EdNC was out and about last week. We had team members in New York City, DC, and all across the state.

The NC Rural Summit kicked off last week, and Hannah McClellan was there to cover it. Check out her takeaways here. Mebane Rash was at UNC Charlotte listening to Jeb Bush on the future of higher education. Here are a few photos and tweets from Mebane. I spent Tuesday afternoon touring Rutherford County with Isothermal Community College folks. Click here to see the Twitter thread for highlights. 

Hannah and I attended the March meeting of the State Board of Community Colleges. Here is Hannah’s full recap of the meeting, including news about the recent economic impact study, an update from the Board’s closed session, enrollment numbers, and next steps for the system’s strategic planning process.

Forsyth Tech’s Melissa Smith won the State Board of Community College’s Excellence in Teaching award this past year. Hannah’s article details Smith’s journey from community college student to the health care field to college instructor and sheds light on Smith’s approach to teaching and meeting students’ needs.

Molly reported on Edgecombe County’s Scholar Teachers program. This grow-your-own teacher program is based at the early college and grew out of the need to address high teacher turnover in the district.

If you want to know what we’re reporting and where we’re traveling, follow us on Twitter: EducationNC, Awake58, Emily, Hannah, Molly, and Nation. 

Thank you for reading,

Emily Thomas

Policy Analyst – EdNC.org 


EdNC reads

State Board of Community Colleges discusses economic impact, president goals

After conducting a one-year performance review of North Carolina Community College System President Thomas Stith in January 2022, the State Board of Community Colleges met in closed session for more than three hours at its March meeting in part to develop goals for the system president.

The Board identified a need to set goals for the system president last December and January, Board Chair Burr Sullivan said. The Board’s closed session focused on outlining five goals for the system president, which they will announce at the Board’s April 21-22 meeting.

“We realized we were evaluating President Stith without the benefit of set goals that have been approved by our system,” Sullivan said. “So we told him in January that we would be coming back to him in March with some goals, and we have done that by creating a whole new governance document of self evaluation that we’ve worked on for a period of two or three months.”

Here are some other highlights from the meeting:

  • The community college system contributes about $19.3 billion to the state’s economy each year, according to an economic impact study presented at the Board meeting. The report will be shared across the state through May, with the goal of highlighting the economic value of the state’s 58 community colleges. 
  • Total student headcount at North Carolina community colleges increased 5% from fall 2020 to 2021. However, this still reflects a 13% decrease from fall 2019. Curriculum headcount, the largest academic level, is the only group that saw a decrease this year — decreasing another 2% this fall after decreasing by 5% in 2020.
  • In response to pandemic-related challenges, the programs committee presented a new definition to the Board concerning types of curriculum — “hybrid flexible (HyFlex)” instruction. The definition was approved by the Board and is expected to be adopted at the April meeting.
  • The system’s strategic planning committee provided an update on its new four-year strategic plan, discussing its student survey results and stakeholder focus group findings concerning the plan. The committee will present either a final draft or plan in July.
Read the full summary of the meeting

N.C. community college Excellence in Teaching award goes to student success advocate

Melissa Smith, Forsyth Technical Community College’s program coordinator of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), has worked to create a more equitable admissions process at the school and helped the MRI program receive a 100% pass rate for the post-graduate American Registry of Radiology Technologists MRI Registry three times in the last nine years. During the pandemic, she also helped secure a grant for a MRI simulator for students.

In January, Smith was named recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award across the entire community college system. Learn more about Smith’s teaching priorities and goals moving forward in Hannah McClellan’s piece this week:

“My favorite moments are when students graduate and they pass their boards, and I love all my students, but it’s really for the ones who have struggled and worked so hard,” Smith said. “Maybe they don’t have the best background or they don’t have support, and just providing them support and seeing them go from making $5 an hour to making $30 an hour and having a whole new life — it is so gratifying and so exciting.”

Click here to see the full article

Edgecombe’s Scholar Teachers program looks forward to first cohort of teachers coming home this fall

From 2006 to 2018, one of every five teachers in Edgecombe County Public Schools left the district each year on average. With a 20% teacher turnover rate, the district started thinking about systemic changes to develop a more qualified teacher pipeline.

The answer was a grow-your-own teacher program. 

Edgecombe County’s Scholar Teachers program is based at Edgecombe Early College High School and is designed to introduce early college students to the basics of teaching. Students take four classes and complete over 200 internship hours in classrooms with mentor teachers in the district.

Students can apply for a $10,000 college scholarship every year for three years once they graduate from the early college. And in exchange, students agree to return to Edgecombe County to teach for three out of their first seven years after receiving a bachelor’s degree.

The program’s first cohort will complete their student teaching this spring and will be in classrooms next fall as first-year teachers.

Read more about the Scholar Teachers program

Around NC

The Virtual 2022 Behavioral Health convening is set for March 30-31. The UNC System, N.C. Community College System, and N.C. Independent Colleges and Universities will host the multi-session seminar focused on behavioral and mental health. The convening is a chance for campus representatives across the state to “develop ideas, share best practices, and learn about programs that help nurture healthy campus communities and resilient students.” Click here to register for the event. Registration closes March 29 at 5 p.m.

Gov. Roy Cooper held a roundtable discussion at Central Carolina Community College about the Longleaf Commitment Grant with education leaders and grant recipients. “Our community colleges are preparing people for the jobs of today and tomorrow,” Cooper said. He has also hosted roundtable discussions about Longleaf at Forsyth Tech and Central Piedmont

The House Select Committee on an Education System for North Carolina’s Future met in Union County last week where they heard presentations from local education leaders. Dr. Maria Pharr, president of South Piedmont Community College, discussed SPCC’s economic impact and Career & College Promise success rates, among other things. See the presentation from local officials here

Natasha Lipscomb from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College shared her perspective on college promise programs and what she believes is the next iteration for North Carolina’s Career & College Promise program.

Wake Tech signed a transfer agreement with Southern New Hampshire University. Students can transfer up to 90 credits and complete their bachelor’s degree online through SNHU.

N.C. State University Chancellor Randy Woodson shared that community colleges have become a critical pathway to N.C. State and other universities in the UNC System. The Higher Ed Works article highlights the Community College Collaboration (C3) program between N.C. State and 19 North Carolina community colleges.

Dr. Audrey Jaeger, W. Dallas Herring distinguished professor and executive director of the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research, was recently awarded the Holladay Medal.

Read how the four-county Land of Sky region (Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, and Transylvania) created an educational attainment and workforce collaborative to meet the needs of the region. 

A new academic building for the College of the Albemarle: The nearly $18 million project and a 35,000 square-foot-building will serve as the hub of COA’s Dare campus.

The American Culinary Federation Education Foundation awarded Guilford Tech’s culinary arts program with the highest ranking.

Forsyth Tech was awarded the 2022 Outstanding Consortium Member by ApprenticeshipNC. The college was specifically recognized for its Learn and Earn Apprenticeship Program.


Other higher education reads

AACTE’s National Portrait Sounds the Alarm on Declining Interest in Education Careers

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) released their second edition of Colleges of Education. The edition features an analysis on the contributions of community colleges to educator preparation. National data through 2018-19 showed that:

  • Community colleges award 81% of 30,000 associate degrees and sub-baccalaureate certificates in education.
  • 52% of education degrees and certificates conferred by community colleges are in early childhood education.
  • 38% of students majoring in education at four-year institutions previously attended a community college.  

The executive summary can be found here and the infographic here

How Missouri Is Increasing Community College Enrollment Among Rural Students

A philanthropic organization called rootEd Alliance is funding, training, and placing college and career advisors in rural high schools. These advisors help students develop plans for postsecondary education and training that are specific to the students’ interests. According to the Forbes’ article, the organization is serving 56 rural high schools in four states.

“According to recent figures, while the nation has seen declines in college-going rates, schools with rootEd Alliance advisors have seen college enrollment rates increase by 7% since fall, 2019. And one-quarter of college-bound students from schools with rootEd said they wouldn’t be going to college at all if it weren’t for their rootEd advisor.”

Postsecondary Pathways | Expanding the Circle: Indigenous Student Access and Persistence in Higher Education

The Hunt Institute will host a webinar on April 12 about indigenous student access and persistence in higher education. 

“Indigenous students are a demographic group that have consistently been underrepresented at institutions of higher education (IHE) in the United States, despite tremendous growth in enrollment in recent years. This is due in part to the distinct barriers and aspects of identity that indigenous students hold compared to other groups. This session will focus on the various factors that affect indigenous students’ access and persistence at IHEs.”

You can register for the webinar here.

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is a policy analyst for EducationNC.