Wolf to lead the Public School Forum of North Carolina

Back in 2012, the nation was just coming out of the Great Recession, and a report on digital learning was released.

“The nation’s students cannot wait.”

The report said, “[E]ffective digital media combined with powerful teaching, rich content, and engaged students has the potential to take learning in the United States to a much higher level and provide all students with experiences that allow them to graduate prepared for college and a career.”

We should have listened.

Mary Ann Wolf co-authored the report. Today she was named the executive director of the Public School Forum of North Carolina.

“Simply slapping a netbook on top of a textbook … will not necessarily lead to significant outcomes,” Mary Ann Wolf wrote in the report, “The Digital Learning Imperative: How Technology and Teaching Meets Today’s Educational Challenges.”

“Piecemeal, incremental action is taking place in some states to move toward more digital textbooks, for example, or toward 1:1 laptop/device programs. But without well thought-out policies that consider quality, the importance of teaching, and the experience of the student, these fragmented efforts will produce no better results than reform efforts of the past decades. States, school districts, and programs focused on improving student learning need to engage in a collaborative, crosscutting process that looks at the needs of the students, the expanded role of teachers, and the most effective ways to get results,” she wrote in the report.

Long before COVID-19, Wolf was leading the way– and not just on digital learning.

Back in May 2008, Wolf testified about “innovative approaches to envision a ‘new norm’ for America’s students” before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor. At that point in her career, she was working as the executive director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA).

More recently, Wolf has been working at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation as senior director of the professional learning and leading collaborative where she has been since 2014.

EdNC’s Rupen Fofaria has covered Wolf’s work on learning differences.

With her team at the Friday Institute, Wolf developed programs for teachers and students designed to improve outcomes for kids who learn differently. A guiding belief in that work, Wolf once told Rupen, is that every student learns a little differently from each other. Wolf’s research helps teachers meet each kid where they are and helps them personalize their approach to reaching goals.

Building on her work to develop a social-emotional learning course for educators for the Friday Institute’s MOOC-Ed, Wolf now presents on social-emotional learning at a distance, most recently on EdWeb and for the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.

Wolf and Joe Ableidinger — who formerly worked at the Public School Forum and now works at The Innovation Project — co-authored this perspective for EdNC in March 2020 about how districts will move forward after COVID-19.

Wolf then appeared on the Public School Forum’s Education Matters to discuss how education leaders were responding to COVID-19:

In April 2020, Wolf released — in partnership with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction — two resources to provide guidance on remote learning: “Instructional Design Principles for Remote Teaching and Learning,” and “Recommendations for Instructional Leaders.”

Wolf is the chair of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education (her term expires in 2021). This is one of my favorite endorsements ever for any candidate in North Carolina:

She has an undergraduate degree in business administration and a masters in education. She earned her Ph.D. in education leadership at the University of Virginia. Wahoowa.

Wolf is a mom.

You can follow her on Twitter @maryannwolfed.

From Leandro and its promise of a sound, basic education to myFutureNC and its goal of 2 million North Carolinians with a high-quality credential or degree by 2030, Wolf understands the educational experiences students need to graduate prepared for college or a career.

I expect and look forward to the “collaborative, crosscutting process” she has called for long before this crisis, this job.


Here is the press release.

Here is Wolf’s research on the implementation of the Hill Reading Achievement Program at four schools.

Here is Wolf’s research on the integration of personalized learning at three schools in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.

Here is Wolf’s research on micro-credentials and learner variability in the classroom.

Here is Wolf’s research on a student-centered approach to more equitable learning opportunities in Beaufort County Schools.

Mebane Rash is the CEO and editor-in-chief of EducationNC and the N.C. Center for Public Policy Research.

K-12 Public School Forum of NC