Skip to content

EdNC. Essential education news. Important stories. Your voice.

Western North Carolina community colleges impacted by Tropical Depression Fred

A note from us

Welcome to the latest edition of Awake58. We hope you will stay a while. If you received this email without a subscription, please click here to subscribe to this newsletter.

The State Board met last week and Anna Pogarcic has the write-up… Bill McBrayer has been reappointed to the State Board… M. Lee Barnes is the newest State Board member… Haywood County was hard hit by Tropical Depression Fred and Emily Thomas covered the story… We published a series looking at teacher prep and literacy…

On Wednesday morning, I headed to Surry Community College. As I drove to Dobson, I made a series of calls checking in on family, friends, and folks in communities across western North Carolina in the aftermath of the heavy rains and winds from Tropical Depression Fred. It was sobering to hear about the damage to multiple communities across the region, but Haywood County was particularly hard hit.

My colleague Emily Thomas took to the road the next day to visit Haywood Community College. I encourage you to give her article a read by clicking here.

The State Board met on Thursday and Friday. My colleague Anna Pogarcic was there covering the meeting. For more on State Board appointments, audit findings for two community colleges, and an update on the Career and College Ready Graduates program, click here.

We told you last week about a bill (SB 421) that would make it easier for students to get in-state tuition eligibility at North Carolina community colleges. Anna Pogarcic reports that the N.C. House has unanimously passed the bill.

The bill allows recent high school graduates to qualify for in-state tuition if:
– They were eligible to attend a public school in NC
– Graduated from a public school unit
– Can’t establish residency due to lack of evidence through the Residency Determination Service

“We appreciate the Legislature’s support of this initiative that will ensure eligible North Carolina high school graduates maintain accessibility to affordable higher education opportunities,” System President Thomas Stith said in a statement to EdNC. “The high-quality education that these students will receive within the community colleges will help meet the workforce demands in North Carolina, which is critical at this time of economic recovery for our great state.”

The House changed one word in SB 421, so it is going back to the Senate. If the Senate approves, it will be sent to Gov. Cooper for his signature or veto.

The next step of the budget process is underway as the conference committee has been formed. Check out the list of legislators who will serve on the conference committee for the budget here.

My visit to Surry County included a stop at Surry Medical Ministries to learn more about their work combating COVID-19 and serving farmworkers. Look for our story on this visit in a few weeks. We also visited Surry Community College to learn more about their Surry-Yadkin Works youth apprenticeship program. Check out our earlier article on the program for more details.

Thank you for reading Awake58 again this week. For most of you, this will be your first full week of classes — and we are all collectively wishing you the very best. I will be heading to Fayetteville Tech later in the week. If you are going to be on campus, send me a note and I will try to say hello.

See you out on the road,

Nation Hahn

Head of Growth –

EdNC reads

The community college system and the UNC system enter into a teacher preparation articulation agreement

The N.C. Community College System and UNC System officially entered into a teacher prep uniform articulation agreement on Monday that has been years in the making Anna Pogarcic reports.

The agreement, system leaders say, will make education more accessible and affordable. It will allow students who have earned an Associate in Arts Teacher Preparation or an Associate in Science Teacher Preparation to smoothly transition to a UNC System school and earn their teacher’s license.

This is an effort to address the critical teacher shortage in the state, both system leaders said.

“We believe community colleges can be a part of the solution to the teacher shortage and assist in training teachers that not only come from our counties, but will remain in their communities once they graduate and become a certified teacher,” NCCCS President Thomas Stith said.

As of the agreement’s signing, 52 community colleges were participating alongside 15 UNC System schools.

This is one of the ways the two systems are collaborating to improve the transfer process, Stith said.

UNC System President Peter Hans highlighted the particular benefit this agreement could have for teachers from rural areas of the state.

“(Teachers are) making do the best they can, but that’s not enough for the young people of our state,” he said.

The two systems have agreements like this for other areas, like nursing, and Hans said he hopes to see more in the future.

“We’re serving the people of North Carolina,” Hans said. “That’s what the community college system exists to do — that’s what the university system exists to do.”

The teacher prep uniform articulation agreement goes into effect this fall.

The State Board met last week. Here's our recap.

The State Board met last week and took up several items of business, including an articulation agreement with the UNC system around early childhood education, Career and College Ready Graduates, and two recent audit reports.

The audit reports for Roanoke-Chowan Community College and Rowan-Cabarrus Community College received a fair amount of discussion from the Board, including a series of questions from Board members around the role of Trustees for the colleges, staffing, and more.

Here is a portion of the conversation around Roanoke-Chowan:

The auditor’s report for Roanoke-Chowan found that from August 2019 to August 2020, the college issued over 2,600 checks totaling $10.3 million with invalid signatures. These checks had digital signatures from the former president and controller, even though they were no longer employees.

“According to the former interim President,” the report reads. “She became aware of the invalid signatures in January 2020 after she filled the Controller position. However, the signatures were not updated until August 2020.”

Updating the signatures is the job of the CFO, a position that was vacant at the time.

Also last week, the House approved two appointments to the State Board. Anna reports:

Vice Chair Bill McBrayer has been reappointed, alongside M. Lee Barnes Jr. of Durham County. This will be McBrayer’s second six-year term. He is the human resources manager of Lexington Home Managers. Barnes has previously served on the Appalachian State University Board of Trustees and is the president and director of M.M. Fowler Inc., a corporation that owns and manages gas station convenience stores.

The two will serve until June 30, 2027. …

The Senate is expected to vote on two additional appointments this week.

Click here for the rest of the story

‘We’re standing strong, but we need your support.’ Haywood rallies together after severe storm damage

My colleague Emily Thomas visited Haywood County in the immediate aftermath of Tropical Depression Fred. When her story published last Friday, around 20 people remained missing, more than 500 families were displaced, and tens of thousands were without power. As of Monday morning, five people were confirmed dead and one remained missing.

Emily captured the following quote from Canton Mayor Zeb Smathers that spoke to the spirit she saw on the ground, “As a paper town and a mill town, we know what it is to be down. We know how it is to fight back when the odds are against us. We have been here before. We will get through this. We will do it together.”

Emily also caught up with Haywood Community College leadership and staff:

“Because we’ve been in this ongoing crisis response mode … we were able to shift quickly,” said HCC president Shelley White.

The college got to work, reigniting their HCC Cares campaign to connect students with emergency financial assistance. Their COVID-19 response page now includes information for students and employees seeking additional resources.

With growing concern about the immediate personal and safety needs of students, HCC plans to survey students early next week and ask them to identify their current needs.

But the focus isn’t just on current needs. HCC is already thinking about getting students reengaged, knowing they will require ongoing support during this time.

“This has been a devastating event to parts of our county,” White said. “Some students may have an extra hardship right now … not being able to connect or even have power or access to technology.”

White told faculty to extend extra time on assignments to students if they need it…. In addition to supporting students and employees, HCC is also offering resources to the county.

For the full story on Haywood, click here. We will be documenting the recovery and rebuilding in the weeks and months ahead. If you have ideas or stories to share, please email us directly.

Teacher prep and collaborations around literacy are in the spotlight

I am proud of our reporting all of the time. Our team relentlessly hits the road each week to document your stories, conduct research, and cover the meetings that matter to our education system — but I am really, really proud of my colleague Rupen Fofaria’s reporting on literacy and the science of reading over the last year.

We published two articles from Rupen last week that I wanted to particularly spotlight for you all.

The first piece, “Relationships and partnerships: How DPI and N.C.’s three higher ed systems are teaming up for literacy,” takes a look at how the UNC system, North Carolina’s private universities and colleges, and the community college system are each approaching literacy. As Rupen reports:

The UNC System is coalescing around a Literacy Framework for each of its 15 educator preparation programs, the NCICU is forming a task force to focus implementation at its 31 colleges of education, and the community college system is working as one unit to design a literacy class that will be required for its new teacher preparation degrees.

“It’s rare in education policy for all the ships to be rowing in the same direction,” UNC System President Peter Hans said. “But it feels as though that is the case. And I can’t think of a more important issue for everyone to be aligned.”

For more on the partnerships on this issue, check out Rupen’s piece.

Fifty-two of the state’s 58 community colleges will offer an associate degree in teacher preparation this fall — and the science of reading will be baked in to the courses:

“It has been fully developed by colleagues across the state who do have the knowledge and the expertise in the brain development and all of the great research around the science of reading,” said Cathy Collie-Robinson, director of the early childhood education program at Durham Tech. “In fact, the course is built around that. The very first module that they put out there was the science behind reading, and so I’m really excited for that.”

For more on the development of the teacher preparation programs, check out Rupen’s full article.

For all of Rupen’s reporting on this issue, click here.

Around NC

The Belk Center at NC State provided an update on their work that we encourage you to read. As a reminder, their annual Dallas Herring Lecture is coming up this November. You may register here.

Gaston College and Johnson C. Smith University have reached an agreement to launch a new direct entry program called JCSU 2+2 Connect.

Nash Community College’s economic impact report from ESMI was written up in the local press — and the report “found that in fiscal year 2020, there was $86 million total added income in Nash County resulting from Nash Community College’s operational, student and alumni input.”

Pitt Community College will offer their first dental assisting program this year.

Rockingham Community College and UNC-Wilmington have also reached a deal providing students with “guaranteed admission to The University of North Carolina at Wilmington to those students who complete an associate in arts or associate in science degree with a cumulative grade-point average of 2.5 (on a 4.0 scale) in transferable, college-level coursework.”

Andrew Beal, one of our loyal Awake58 readers, reached out to share this piece on the role Vance-Granville Community College played in the career of a newly named elementary school principal.

Wake Tech announced a six-acre land donation to Wake County to provide room for more affordable housing: “Wake County and Wake Tech leadership announced today that the property, located at 0 Chapanoke Road in Raleigh, will be developed into multi-family affordable housing. Units will be one, two and three bedrooms, with 30% of units set aside for Wake Tech students who meet specified criteria. The property is located directly across from Wake Tech’s Public Safety Education Campus.”

Wayne Community College’s presidential search — and request for public input and transparency —remain in the news.

Other higher education reads

Campus child care helps student parents takes a look at the state of campus child care during COVID-19. I know from my own travels that a number of community colleges have wrestled with the role of child care centers in recent years — and in some cases colleges have closed them outright. This piece explores some colleges across the country who have seen an increase in enrollment in child care centers during the pandemic — and colleges who are using federal funds to meet the demand.

A strategy of optimism: Early college/dual enrollment and community colleges

This entire piece from on early colleges and dual enrollment is worth your time, but I wanted to spotlight this piece in particular:

Education leaders are thinking about dual enrollment as the first step in a three-institution pathway, leading from high school, through a community college and then into a four-year institution, without skipping a semester or losing a single credit. Laura Douglas, president of Bristol Community College in Massachusetts, has been a pioneer in this area, particularly in connecting work done in career technical education and on to four-year engineering institutions, saving students thousands of dollars in tuition or student debt.

More specifically, community college leaders are using dual enrollment as a tool to break down the stigma about community college among high-, middle- and low-income students. Matt Reed, provost at Brookdale Community College in New Jersey, told us that the range of high schools that his institution works with for dual-enrollment programming enables the college to reach the full range of students who are potential attendees as well as their families.

For the full read, click here.

Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.