Welcome to Hope Starts Here – a weekly podcast produced by EdNC.org. I’m Alli Lindenberg, EdNC’s engagement specialist. I’ll be hosting and producing this podcast — and can’t wait to share moments of hope with you. I started this show as a response to the overwhelming stress news can cause during times of crisis. We need to stay informed, but we also need to take care of ourselves mentally and emotionally. I’m hoping this show will do just that. 

Hope Starts Here surfaces good news stories in the education space. We’re talking to education leaders, teachers, students, and parents about what’s going well in education. Episodes can be found at EdNC.org/Hopestartshere and https://soundcloud.com/hopestartshere

Episode 1: Unity in community

For this first episode, I talked to Mariah Morris, the 2019 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year (T.O.Y), about her initiative called T.O.Y Time, where she curates and posts daily lessons from teachers on YouTube to promote learning from home during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Then I talk to Julie Pittman, education outreach manager for No Kid Hungry NC. She shares about the school districts, local leaders, and communities which are coming together to feed our state’s children in need while schools are closed. 

Listen here with show notes below:


Mariah Morris’ T.O.Y Time 

No Kid Hungry’s food distribution by district list

Episode 2: “Meet them where they are”

For this episode, I was joined by three special guests – A student, a parent and a teacher. Nina Anderson is a first grader in Charlotte, and shares how she’s been learning from home and using Zoom to hear from her teacher. Her mom, Johanna Anderson, gives us a parent perspective of what it’s been like transitioning to working remotely and supporting Nina at home. Then, we hear from Nina’s teacher, Kathleen Talbert, on how she shifted her classroom to virtual and advice for other teachers navigating this new landscape of online learning.

 Listen below:

Episode 3: When your living room becomes your classroom

In this episode, I caught up with Myra Morgan, a teacher at McDowell High School for over 20 years and her daughter Taylor, senior and student body president at McDowell High. We heard what it’s like moving your classroom to your living room, and the feelings that come up with handling so much uncertainty during the last year of high school.

A note from Alli: We are still learning how to operate remote, just like everyone else. The software we use to record calls had a bit of blip this week and caused some clicking in part of the interview. Please bear with us as we learn how to navigate these challenges and get you the best quality audio possible.

Episode 4: Rural challenges with broadband – “It’s pretty much non-existent”

In this episode, I talked to Steven Gupton who is a student-turned-teacher at Louisburg High School in Franklin County and an active paramedic. Gupton shares his rural community’s challenges with access to broadband and WiFi and how he is maintaining hope during this time for his students, his patients, and himself.

Episode 5: “We’re rebuilding and looking ahead.”

In this episode, I sat down with Jeff Cox,  president of Wilkes Community College. We talked about how the college has transitioned to remote learning and Merlefest — the annual music festival held on the college’s campus and a major economic driver for their community . The festival was cancelled this year because of COVID-19, for the first time since it began more than 30 years ago. “We’re rebuilding and looking ahead,” he said.

Episode 6: “Catalyzing and convening” Audrey Jaeger on the Belk Center’s mission and impact

For this episode, you’ll hear from Audrey Jaeger — executive director of the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research at NC State University. She covers the mission of the center, its impact, and their biggest opportunity to amplify all 58 community colleges in the next few years. Jaeger was also recently awarded the NC State University’s 2020 Alumni Association Outstanding Research Award.

Episode 7: “An island on an island”

For this episode, you’ll hear from two educators on Ocracoke Island. Leslie Cole is the principal of Ocracoke School and Jeannie Owens is the only 5th grade teacher. Owens was also recently named the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Northeast Regional Teacher of the Year for 2020. We talked about resiliency in community and how their school has adapted from several challenges this year, from Hurricane Dorian to COVID-19.

Episode 8: Mitigating barriers ft. Janet Spriggs of FTCC

In this episode you will hear from Janet Spriggs. Dr. Spriggs is the president of Forsyth Technical Community College. She joins us to talk about the Forsyth Tech Cares program and how they’ve been taking care of their students’ needs.

Recipe of the week

All of us have our own ways of coping with stress and anxiety. I, for one, am a stress baker. So, as you can imagine, there is a lot of baking going on in my house right now. At the end of every episode, I’m going to share a recipe of the week and will include it in the show notes and on our website. If you want to follow along with my stress baking journey, you can find me on Twitter at @allilindy.

How are you staying healthy through all of this? I’d love to know. Feel free to share your bakes or doodles or virtual yoga tips with me on Twitter. 

Behind the Story

Artwork for this article is by Carol Bono.

Alli Lindenberg is the Engagement Specialist for EducationNC.

Carol Bono is the Visuals and Interactives Editor for EducationNC.

Hope Starts Here