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On Saturday at 4:30, while it is premiering at MerleFest, we will post our full-length documentary, “My Name Is Merle.”

I attended MerleFest for the first time in 2019. EdNC was studying the economic impact of the music festival on Wilkes Community College and the region.

Backstage, I met Karen Norris, the daughter of Merle Watson and granddaughter of Doc Watson, with her family. I asked Jeff Cox, the president of Wilkes Community College, if a documentary had been produced about this festival that has influenced a whole genre of music.

It had not.

The amazing Robert Kinlaw was game, winning an early award for his rough cut just before the pandemic hit.

We believe in stories — and this is the best untold story in North Carolina.

We believe in leadership — and this is a story about the leadership of a horticulture teacher, Doc Watson and his family, the community college, the MerleFest team, and the community.

We believe in impact — not just the impact of this music festival on this community college and this community, but on music as we know and enjoy it across America today.

Our documentary has been written up by Garden & Gun, and if you want to see it on the big screen in the Triangle, it is included in the Longleaf Film Festival on Friday, May 12 at 5pm.

Take a look over the weekend, and let me know what you think.

Thank you to the whole MerleFest and Wilkes Community College team and most especially the family and musicians for trusting us with your story.

And then prepare your minds for next week.

The agendas aren’t posted yet, but we expect the N.C. State Board of Education to hold its planning meeting at UNCC on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

At the same time, the legislature will be moving legislation along as the May 4 crossover deadline approaches.

Here is your playlist for the weekend via the mountain philosopher himself, Superintendent Jeff McDaris.

I am so very thankful for all of you and your love of education and all of its ripple effects.


These are the sources EdNC checks every day: The New York Times, The 74, Education Week, The NC Tribune, The Insider, The News & Observer, The Charlotte Observer, WUNC, WFAE, Brookings, Education Commission of the States, and DPI’s News. A cross section of diverse sources are checked weekly and monthly. If you have an article you think needs to be included, email [email protected].

Mebane Rash

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

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