College of Education hosts summit with regional, national partners

Creating opportunities and maximizing achievement for all students was the focus of a school equity summit hosted recently by East Carolina University.

The ECU College of Education Department of Educational Leadership partnered with regional and national education leaders to hold the summit Feb. 19-20 at the Eastern Area Health Education Center in Greenville.

Keynote speaker Thomas Murray speaks at an equity summit hosted by the ECU College of Education Department of Educational Leadership Feb. 19-20.

Keynote speaker Thomas Murray speaks at an equity summit hosted by the ECU College of Education Department of Educational Leadership Feb. 19-20. (Photos by Cole Dittmer)

The summit was part of FORCE (Focusing On Rural Challenges in Education) initiative, a national collaborative involving the school districts in Duplin, Jones, Pender and Sampson counties, ECU’s Department of Educational Leadership and the nonprofit Panasonic Foundation.

The purpose of FORCE is to improve equity in the classroom, maximize student achievement and close achievement gaps for all students. Leaders participated in activities to help improve their vision for instructional leadership, shared beliefs around equity and discussed resources across the districts.

The summit provided opportunities to analyze three topics that impact equity in schools:

  • “Racial Diversity,” presented by Matt Militello, ECU College of Education Wells Fargo Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership;
  • “Linguistic Diversity,” presented by Marjorie Ringler, interim chair of the educational leadership department;
  • “Transforming Learning with Technology,” presented by Thomas Murray, co-author of “Learning Transformed: 8 Keys to Designing Tomorrow’s Schools, Today.”
Participants discussed ways to integrate findings from the equity summit into their school districts.

Participants discussed ways to integrate findings from the equity summit into their school districts.

Educators incorporated the presentations in work sessions that analyzed their school district data through the lens of equity. Each school district team worked to develop an equity goal to implement in their districts.

Militello said the FORCE partnership is very unique.

“This consortium marks a unique collaboration among school districts, a philanthropic foundation and a university. Secondly, all of our work is focused in the classroom,” Militello said. “While we are working with school leaders, our professional development lives in the very classrooms we hope to improve and together we are engaged in living the Panasonic mission of breaking the links between race, poverty and educational outcomes.”

The Panasonic Foundation’s mission is to break the links between race, poverty and educational outcomes by improving the academic and social success of all students. The foundation was created in 1984 by a $10 million endowment from Matsushita Electric Corporation of America, which has since been renamed Panasonic Corporation of North America.

The FORCE consortium has four site-based sessions in the school districts each year and two annual national meetings to which it sends teams in order to learn from other Panasonic projects across the country. This was the first of the new annual, local summits.

The equity summit was held at the Eastern Area Health Education Center in Greenville.

The equity summit was held at the Eastern Area Health Education Center in Greenville.

 

-by Cole Dittmer, University Communications