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Bridge: A gathering for North Carolina’s future

EdNC is your bridge between schools and communities, philanthropists, newsmakers, policy shapers and policy makers, connecting practice to policy for our students, our schools, our state, and our future.

On April 28-30, 2019, philanthropists, policymakers, educators, and community leaders joined together in Greensboro at the Proximity Hotel to learn about and discuss the work being done and the work to be done to orient North Carolina’s students, educators, and leaders towards readiness and attainment. Over the course of three days, attendees took a deep dive into data on equity in education, visited schools across the educational continuum, and heard from experts and system leaders from North Carolina, Tennessee, and Louisiana. 

For the next two weeks, EducationNC will be sharing content from the gathering, starting with CEO and Editor-in-Chief Mebane Rash’s welcome letter. To see the full range of sessions and speakers, view the program embedded at the bottom of this post. 

Hey y’all! Welcome.

Think of Bridge not as a conference, but as a gathering.
Think of the Proximity not as a hotel, but as home.
Think of each other not as colleagues, but as family.

It is our hope that the relationships built in this space will be our bridge, our missing link to building a 21st century education system for our students, to building a workforce for the economy of our future, to building a greater North Carolina, and to positioning us in the world less as a big state and more like a small country.

Just over 30 years ago, the Linn Cove Viaduct – the bridge of Bridge – was completed. There is a lesson in this bridge: it respected the past, mindful of the environment of one of the world’s oldest mountains, and at the same time, it was innovative, the most complicated concrete bridge ever built. It is known as the missing link of our beloved Blue Ridge Parkway.

In February 2018, when he was visiting North Carolina, Jeremy Anderson, president of Education Commission of the States, said in states where leaps and bounds are being made, leaders have found ways to work across difference. “It’s a simple litmus test,” he said. “Can the people who can move this policy meet for coffee even if they disagree and talk through some of these differences?”

As I travel, I notice whether people are having coffee. Not so much, y’all, especially if it involves people who don’t think or look like each other. Bridge is for all of us to come together across all of the lines of difference that seem to divide us.

You will meet many lovely people here, as our Liz Bell would say, including the EdNC team, the EdAmbassadors, Freebird and Julie, many who have supported us from the very beginning, one who taught us what it means to go up in the bucket, and a very special student from Edgecombe County.

Breyia recently traveled with me from North Carolina to Idaho. It was her first time on an airplane. We screened the short documentary you will see about her “School of Innovation” for rural philanthropists and educators. At the start of the day, we were asked the word of intention we were holding for the day. Breyia’s was “proud.”

Let’s make Breyia and all our students across the state proud. With 2020 around the corner, and myFutureNC and the work of the Leandro court and commission ahead, there is no better time for us to collectively ask ourselves, “What’s our greater, North Carolina?”

If in the days we are together and in the days that follow, we act in peace, kindness, love, and grace, then hope will follow.

Thank you for your time. Thank you for your public service to our students, our state, and our future. Thank you for building our bridge, our missing link.




Mebane Rash

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC.