Public Service

NCRA, at Work for the Common Good

by Sandra Cook, NCRA President, 2012-2013

Reading is fundamental to education and lifelong learning. NCRA and its members demonstrate their commitment to public service. They pay tribute to young readers and writers, award grants to support community literacy projects, award scholarships, hold leadership training and recognize exemplary schools for their achievements in advancing literacy. NCRA sponsors an annual conference, welcoming teachers from across the state to discuss effective ways of dealing with challenges they face. Whether working in homes, classrooms, universities or other institutions, members of NCRA view themselves as teachers, focused on what’s fundamental—helping all students learn to read. Developing the reading habit allows young people to pursue personal interests and readies them for college and careers. Interested in NCRA’s professional development and community outreach? Join a local reading council.

What motivates and inspires teachers? What do teachers believe? Tributes to one notable leader, Bill Friday, offer insight into teaching and those who support educational institutions:

“Friday treated all people the same.”

“Friday really did believe in young people….was willing to give of himself, especially to people younger than he.”

He believed in education for “people from all walks of life.”

“A staunch believer in the power of education to lift people from poverty and make them good citizens,”…Friday crusaded for “affordability.”

“Friday believed in the power of education to transform individual lives, and in turn to illuminate the path to progress.”

About his TV program, North Carolina People, Friday’s quoted as saying, “I work hard and I study. When you don’t, the program does not have much life.” He learned the hard way, as all teachers have, to avoid yes or no questions. When he asked someone to tell a story the “tenor of the conversation changed.” Friday concluded then that a strong interview invited storytelling and required keen listening.

“Friday was in front, leading and fighting, when the state confronted racial injustice, affronts to freedom of speech, discrimination against women.”

About the leadership program named for Friday, Chancellor Holden Thorp said, “Every name (for the program) we came up with would have been a polarizing name for one constituency or another. His was the only name that would rise above that.”

“Despite his deeply held beliefs, Friday could be friends with those on the other side. He was a powerful listener and inclusive leader.”

In 1986 interview, he spoke of his greatest accomplishment,…”while the university is in the political process, it is not of it, and I’ve worked very hard to keep it that way. The university stands there today completely capable of examining any controversial question, dealing with any great social issue, working to improve the state and all its people.”

NCRA serves the state and all of its children through local chapters, leadership training and an annual conference. In their classrooms, NCRA members and all other teachers value storytelling, keen listening and investigation of issues and real-world problems. Success in classrooms advances the common good, and students working together and with their teachers learn to treat with respect those with differing views. They know that public policy shapes all lives and work and study hard to prepare the next generation of leaders.

(A column based on quotes, stories and editorials that appeared in The News & Observer, October 13, 2012, and The Daily Tar Heel, October 15, 2012.)