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Raise your education IQ: Get to know these educational issues in our city

Ross Danis
Ross Danis

Want to know more about the educational issues in our city, but don’t know where or how to dive in?

These four key leaders working in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools district answered five atypical questions:

– Ross Danis, photographed above, recently became the executive director of MeckEd, a non-profit group that educates, engages and impacts the local community.

– Ericka Ellis Stewart was re-elected to the Charlotte Mecklenburg School Board.  She has served four years.

– Eric Davis is a six-year veteran of the Charlotte Mecklenburg School Board. He is also serving his first year on the NC State Board.

– Lauren Fowler was an elementary school teacher for five years before becoming the principal at Nathaniel Alexander Elementary School in 2012. She is a graduate of both Teach for America and Leaders Under 40.

(1) Name a time when you made a difference in a child’s life.

Stewart: Currently I am mentoring a young lady in high school.

Davis: I helped a high school graduate navigate the application process and gain entrance. He will be a first-generation college student.

Fowler: A recent example would be providing needed assistance for food, housing, and academics to a student and family in a sudden time of crisis and need.

Danis: Just like so many of my colleagues who have spent their lives in the service of children and their learning, the answer is every day. Making a difference in children’s lives is what we do.   

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Ericka Ellis Stewart

(2) What is the biggest change in the CMS classrooms or schools that have been implemented recently?

Stewart: The state is mandating that all testing be done online.

Davis: Successful implementation of the Common Core. Students are taught the knowledge and content and how to apply it in real-world situations.

Fowler: We are working in alignment with the district-wide initiative on nonfiction text and strategies such as close reading to improve comprehension.

Danis: We are seeing an increase in the use of non-fiction texts, balanced literacy in grades K-5 and disciplinary literacy in grades 6-12.

Principal & Staff Head Shots
Lauren Fowler Nancy Pierce

(3) What would surprise someone not involved as a parent or educator about the Charlotte education system?

Stewart: Charlotte is the 17th largest school system in the US with 147,000 kids. Nationally, we are perceived as a jewel. Often we are asked how we implemented certain programs or how another school district can replicate something we do.

(4) What is one thing you wish the general population knew about what happens behind the scenes with making education policy?

Davis: Understand how fractured education policy is from Washington, DC, to general assembly to state board of education to local board of education. Many of these decision makers don’t talk with one another. Then the local board of education is the receiver of those disjointed decisions.

Fowler: There is currently a tremendous need in the state of North Carolina for reform and improvement in certain educational policy. The pay/compensation for educators is at the top of that list.

Photo 1 Eric Davis Credit Eric Davis
Eric Davis

(5) How can an individual get involved in education in Charlotte?

Stewart: Working with reading and comprehension and joining School Leadership Team.

Davis: Get involved in the political system, know your reps and talk with them at the state level. Advocate for more support for the public school system.

Fowler: The CMS Northstar Literacy Initiative is a great way to currently get involved. There are also many other volunteer opportunities to positively impact students. 

Danis: Consider attending one of MeckEd’s events or community forums, and visit us on the web at www.mecked.org.

Photos: Eric Davis, Lauren Fowler, Frank H. Conlon

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