BURLINGTON, N.C. – National Agents Alliance hosted the Education Summit presented by Alamance Citizens for Education on Tuesday at its corporate headquarters.
The ACE Summit featured several guest speakers, recognized its volunteer of the year and business partner of the year, during the event where more than 150 attended.
The goal of the ACE Summit is to educate, excite and engage members of the community, encouraging them to become actively involved stakeholders of public schools in Alamance County.
ACE’s motto is “educating everyone, takes everyone,” and strives to serve as a catalyst for a transformational impact on its community through promoting the value and benefits of a high quality education system.
National Agents Alliance President and CEO Andy Albright and his wife, Jane (a former school teacher) attended the event.
“The ACE has set some lofty goals and we feel like they have raised the bar and the expectation for students in Alamance County,” said Albright, a Western Alamance High School graduate. “It’s great to hear them say that their goal is to offer the best public school education in the country. They’ve put a plan on paper, the board of education approved it in May and they are working to reach those goals. That’s powerful to set the bar so high. We were happy to host them at our headquarters and look forward to seeing the progress the students will make in the coming years.”
The Turrentine Middle School Advance 8th Grade Orchestra provided entertainment during the kickoff lunch, and the Woodlawn Middle School Chorus opened by leading the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance, before singing “My America” and “Changamano.”
Stephanie Brown, board president of the ACE, introduced the lineup of speakers, which included Eric Guckian, Derek Steed, Dr. Lille Cox and DeAnna Foust-Platt.
Guckian is the senior education advisor to N.C. Governor Pat McCrory. His primary goal is to narrow the achievement gap in our nation’s public schools. He told the audience that teachers need encouragement for the job they do with young people in North Carolina.
“I want to uplift all our teachers because they need to hear it,” Guckian said.
Steed, co-chair of the Stakeholders Group for the Vision Plan for Education in Alamance County, said the vision for public education was an “audacious” goal, but was attainable and important.
“We have to get outside of this room and into homes in our community,” Steed said of the work it will take to make a public education in Alamance County one of the best in the nation. “We have to get others to pull in that same direction and move toward that pinnacle.”
Dr. Cox, the superintendent of the Alamance-Burlington School System, explained why she believes the “future’s so bright” for students in Alamance County.
“We believe our system is the best already, but we know we have room for improvement,” Cox said. “We need to be the best and there’s a sense of urgency in that.”
Cox informed the attendees that the Alamance-Burlington system has 22,750 students – up by 400 students from last year – but is operating with $5 million less in its annual budget and with fewer resources and staff.
Foust-Platt, the 2013 Alamance-Burlington School System Teacher of the Year, said believing in every child was vital. A former cheerleader, Foust-Platt led a cheer that spelled out “We Believe” at the end of her speech.
“All of your hard work will pay off,” Foust-Platt said. “We have to set high expectations. I never want to extinguish a child’s dream.”
Lib Clark was named ACE Volunteer of the Year for her service and Wells Fargo was named Business Partner of the Year for their support of ACE.