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Mariah Morris and Julie Pittman share how NC is showing up in new ways to serve students

The Hope Starts Here podcast 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

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, and Julie Pittman, education outreach manager for No Kid Hungry NC. Listen below.

Talking digital learning with Mariah Morris

When Gov. Roy Cooper announced that all public K-12 schools would be closing, Morris was both inspired and impressed with all the outreach she was receiving directly from teachers all over the state asking the same question: “How can we best serve our students right now?”

Mariah Morris. Courtesy of Durham Public Schools

Morris and her teacher-leader colleagues jolted into action to share primary (grades K-5) and secondary (grades 6-12) daily lesson plans on YouTube. You can find these daily videos here (and instructions for submitting your own).

“Teachers always have their students hearts and well-being foremost in their minds. And before I heard teachers worrying about themselves or worrying about how this was gonna affect their jobs and their day-to-day, they were very concerned about what they could do to help their children,” she said in the episode. “I’m just very, very proud to be a North Carolina educator. And I hope that we continue this trend of really modeling and trailblazing as we think about education in the future.”

How NC is feeding our kids with Julie Pittman

Julie Pittman, education outreach coordinator for No Kid Hungry NC, and her team jumped into action quickly to connect kids with free, healthy meals when schools started closing. Soon after, they launched a school meal update document which lists pick up locations for meals across all districts.

“So many of our partners and teachers across the state are really rallying to make sure that that that kids are being taken care of, because a lot of times the schoolhouse is the safest place that a kid feels where they have their friends, they know they’ve got a caring adult, they know they’ve got boundaries and expectations, they know they’re going to get fed,” she said. “School meals are already being provided across the state this week, even in these early hours and days of kids not being at school.”

You can find a list of the school districts providing food to students here.

Tune in for our next episode, which will be released here.

Hope Starts Here

Welcome to Hope Starts Here – a podcast produced by I’m Alli Lindenberg, EdNC’s multimedia reporter. 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.