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Duplin County Schools Partners with Panasonic Foundation and East Carolina University


Focus on Rural Challenges in Education


KENANSVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA – January 5, 2017 – Duplin County Schools, along with
partners from the Panasonic Foundation and East Carolina University (ECU), shared with the Board of Education an update on the Focusing on Rural Challenges in Education (FORCE) collaboration. 

Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources and Leadership Development, Felicia Brown introduced the presentation by explaining that school systems in Jones, Pender, and Sampson counties are the other partners who have come together with the Panasonic Foundation and ECU to support teaching and learning. She also introduced Dr. Kathy Spencer, the Executive Director of the Southeast Education Alliance.


“We are glad to be here tonight and we are proud of the students and staff of Duplin County Schools,” said Spencer. “This an opportunity that has not been done anywhere else across this country.  They (Panasonic) had an opportunity to expand their portfolio as a foundation and they were looking for a group of rural school systems that were really interested in making an improvement on student learning, teacher development, and leadership. As a result of that, ECU, the Panasonic Foundation, and the four districts that Mrs. Brown just shared with you, have come together and spent the past year working on those exact things. This is another feather in your cap in Duplin County and you have many.”


Spencer introduced Panasonic Senior Consultant Dr. Gail Davis who briefly shared additional information regarding Panasonic.


“This is my first opportunity to work with rural school districts together and I cannot tell you how much I have learned,” expressed Davis. “The Panasonic Foundation has, for 27 years, focused on the mission of supporting student learning, enhancing school systems, looking at what school systems have, and focusing on really working with school districts to find out what is needed and how we can give support.”


Dr. Matthew Militello, the Wells Fargo Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership at ECU, shared the characteristics that make the FORCE partnership unique.  He said the partnership is long term, includes in-class professional development, and provides for the development of local and national resources and partnerships.


“It is quite interesting to have folks from eastern North Carolina sit with folks from Oakland, California.  The demographics may be quite different, the issues might be different, but when it really comes down to it, all of us are trying to improve classroom teaching on a daily basis,” said Militello. “We are all trying to understand how to embed the community into the classroom, and that will really help students.”


Superintendent Dr. Austin Obasohan thanked the partners on behalf of Duplin County Schools.  “We are very fortunate to have the support of the Panasonic Foundation, East Carolina University, and Dr. Spencer. I think I can speak on behalf of the teachers and principals who have been to these meetings and conferences that it is really good to know we have something in common. We thank you so much.”