The Mayor's Brief: March 6, 2020
Last week's 'Mayor's Brief' comes in the form of a blog. We will return to our regularly scheduled programming at 7:00 pm Thursday on WHIG-TV. In the meantime, here is a round-up of last week.
NASH-ROCKY MOUNT ROTARY CLUB INDUCTION
I was highly honored to be inducted into the Rocky Mount Rotary Club last week. I had the opportunity to speak to the club about the important role community can play in our public school system and the ways we will see growth across the region with combined effort.
BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB ART CONTEST HONORS BLACK HISTORY MONTH
Wednesday evening, I was privileged to attend the awards ceremony for the Boys and Girls Club Black History Month Art Contest sponsored by US Cellular. The ten amazing
portraits of the African American idols and icons were hung in 2 different US Cellular
stores for the month and over 400 folks came out to view the art and vote. I was so
proud of the commitment and talent of all ten of the artist. Congrats to our first place,
second, place, and third place winners as well as all participants.
From right to left: Neveah Thompson received a $100 prize. Tai’Veon Battle won $150 for second place. In first, with a $250 prize, was Nia Ewuell.
COVID-19 IN NORTH CAROLINA
The Coronavirus has officially reached NC with the first case being in Wake County. Be
sure to check out my website and Facebook page where I will keep you all informed with
information from the CDC, State, and Federal Government.
At the moment, the best thing you can do to protect yourself and prevent the spread of the disease is to wash your hands frequently and be sure to cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze. Talk to your children about keeping their hands away from their faces and mouths.
Also, a reminder, face masks do not protect you from the disease. They should be worn
only by those infected with other illness as a means of preventing spread.
Be sure to check out my blog post on my website about the implications of this
global outbreak. In the meantime, here is a helpful video from the CDC:
INVESTING IN EDUCATION: COMMUNITY ROLE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
WORKFORCE INFLOW AND CURB APPEAL OF ROCKY MOUNT AS A COMMUNITY
Almost 25k people come into Rocky Mount every day for work from Johnston, Wake, Wilson, and other surrounding counties.
What does this mean for Rocky Mount?
People are choosing not to live here that have great jobs here. Rocky Mount in most
opportune geographic location for logistics and manufacturing, however, people who will
move for the job do not want to put their kids into underperforming schools, purchase
homes in unsafe neighborhoods.
How do we change our community to become more desirable?
Start with building a world-class education system.
HOW ARE OUR PUBLIC SCHOOLS DOING?
1 in 3 of our public school students lives below the poverty line. Over 50% of Edgecombe and Nash-Rocky Mount schools are designated Low Performing Schools by the state.
● Necessary for college admission and job training:
● Enrollment is roughly 15% lower across the board in both school systems
compared to the state
● Passing Percentages 25-30% lower than the state average in both school
● 20% behind average State performance:
● Indicates students are not on track to reach college and career
● Economically disadvantaged and African American subgroups have the highest
rates of non-proficiency
● *disproportionate non-proficiency slows down the progress of the entire
ACT Performance / College Preparedness: 17 is the minimum requirement for admission
to UNC System Schools
● 55% of students across the State reach this
● Edgecombe is off by close to 30%
● Nash-Rocky Mount close to 20%
● Again, male and African American males report the lowest performances. This
makes sense because reflects overall school performance
THE MAYOR'S TRANSITION TEAM
“Public Education is not broken, we are just expecting it to do things it was not
designed to do.”
The above quote was made by one of the principals involved in my transition team's advisory committee meetings. Much insight was gained from posing the following questions:
“What would you do with $1 million?”
Principal Answer: “Put the money in front of children at home to help them work through
● This suggests that there is too much time spent during the day dealing with
behavior issues related to hunger, trauma, lack of stability at home. Once a
the teacher has addressed this, valuable time has been lost in the classroom to focus
on the curriculum, has set others in the classroom behind.
● Mental health care for parents and students. Schools in Nash and Edgecombe
County are among the lowest student to counselor ratios for public schools in the
● *Maslow Model- Hierarchy of Need: All of these things need to be met before any
learning can occur and many students come with none of them met, not even the
most basic of needs such as shelter and food
“What can we as a community do to support you?”
Principal Answer: Vocal Support: “That Principal is out here working as hard as he can.”
● Praise for the efforts they are taking rather than criticized for performance
● Educators feel too quickly judged just by test scores.
● Express their value beyond student performance.
● Community Accountability: We should ALL play a part in our students’ education
● Baskerville Principal: “I work to diminish excuses by leaving the building
and going out into the community and meet people where they are."
● Priorities of Parents: Field Day attendance is extremely high compared to Curriculum Day attendance where the teacher walks the parents through the academic intentions for the year.
● Exposure: “it is hard to read a book about the beach with students who have
never been to a beach in their life.”
● “When students go past the skyline in Raleigh they are blown away
because they have never seen buildings like that”
World-Class Education is the best step in the direction of economic prosperity in Rocky
Mount. Our Principals need our support of the community to help bring their students up
to speed so they can their schools, how they are supposed to be run, at the highest
Research has found the importance of involving community organizations in addition to
families in order to improve student and school outcomes. The Ohio Community
Collaboration Model for School Improvement is one initiative that has shown
preliminary success in forming partnerships and has led to significant academic
achievement across targeted subgroups (e.g., students with disabilities, low-SES
students) in one school.
Key elements of the model include:
● Increasing the number and variety of stakeholders in determining school needs and
● Identifying interventions and partnerships to address needs.
● Building collaborative leadership infrastructures.
HERE ARE A FEW EXAMPLES OF SUCCESSFUL COMMUNITY INTERVENTION OF THIS NATURE:
In our community: S.T.E.P
Strategic Twin-Counties Education Partnership, is improving the educational opportunities for students in the Twin Counties area – cradle to career – by facilitating collaboration between our schools, our community colleges, our community-based organizations, and our employers.
As many of you know, last month I had the unique opportunity to visit the BMW Academy in Lexington, Kentucky. The BMW Academy is a nationally awarded program aimed to reach, teach and keep the black student population from failing.
EXAMPLES OF HOW THE COMMUNITY CAN GET INVOLVED
○ Support coalition programs between schools and workforce and fill the gap to create economic prosperity.
○ Plays into exposure: giving students context to learning through experience.
○ Field Trips to plants/companies/job sites
○ Mentorship programs
○ More support for ongoing initiatives such as STEP
○Familial support which ultimately supports the student.
○ Working with other churches and organizations- ex. BMW Saturday
Academy hosted by three separate churches for Elementary, Middle, High
○ Reading/tutoring programs: Evidence to suggest that having adult/parent
involvement in the classroom has a positive impact on learning.
OTHER IDEAS? LET ME KNOW
It is on all of us to lift up our children and support our educators so that we are operating
at an high, equitable efficiency. In doing so, we are simultaneously creating safer
neighborhoods, providing a work-ready job force, and in combination attracting new
business to the region.