Teachers from across the state descended on Midway High School earlier this week to discuss potential laws which will effect students and educators in the future.
The school hosted the North Carolina Governor’s Teacher Advisory Committee Wednesday afternoon. The committee’s purpose is to address educational needs and provide feedback to Gov. Pat McCrory. Legislation discussed among the members included the elimination of final exams; teacher recruitment and scholarships; and differentiated pay for teachers.
Kristen Smith, a teacher at Clinton High School, said meeting at a southeastern and rural school in the state was a plus.
“It’s a privilege to work with educators from all different backgrounds,” Smith said. “All around it allows the teachers to learn sitting on a committee like this and provide feedback to the people making the decisions.”
Officials from the Office of the Governor led the meeting. Eric Guckian, senior advisor on education, said the McCrory feels very strongly about getting input from teachers on proposed policies.
“This is our continuing outreach to educators,” Guckian said. “We believe that we need to get closest to field to figure what the best policies are for kids.
“One thing I’m really pleased about with this group is that they really roll up their sleeves and get to work,” he said.
While addressing the teachers with LeKisha Jordan, education policy analyst for the Governor’s Office, Guckian asked that the participants think about how the policies are going to bring about results for students. After meetings, recommendations will be sent to the governor.
Margaret Turlington of the local Simple Gifts Program mentioned how legislators are not in the classroom to know what’s going on. “I think it’s wonderful that they want insight from all disciplines and grade levels,” she said.
Turlington said she was impressed with how the teachers wanted to improve what was going through. Coming from a rural area, Turlington liked how the teacher recruitment and scholarship legislation (House Bill 661) deals with recruiting teachers in areas where it’s hard to do so.
State Schools Superintendent June Atkinson also attended the meeting along with other education leaders.
“In North Carolina, I think it’s very important that we listen to the voices of teachers,” Atkinson stressed.
She said one of the ways to receive input is through organizations such as the Governor’s Advisory Committee.During a tour with Midway Principal Monty Strickland, Atkinson also spoke about her visit to Midway High School, which she described as a walk down memory lane.
“I’m pleased to be here in Sampson County again,” she said. “I was privileged to be here at Midway High School when it was dedicated eight years ago; this school is still as beautiful as it was eight years ago when I came for the dedication.”
Strickland said the Midway teachers have been excited about having other educators across North Carolina in the building. Some of them represented Durham, Cumberland County, Pender County and Raleigh
Dr. Eric Bracy, superintendent of Sampson County Schools, said he enjoyed having the committee visit the school.
“This is a good initiative by the governor and I’m looking forward to being a part of it,” Bracy said.