Held in the beautiful city of Wilmington, N.C., over 500+ educators, school leaders, and advocates came together for the North Carolina Association of Public Charters Schools conference. Not only was this the association’s first in-person conference since the pandemic, but it was their most attended event to date.
Our team at Rhodes Branding had the opportunity to be both a vendor and presenter, and we thoroughly enjoyed getting to know some of the incredible leaders spearheading the impact that charter schools are having in NC.
In addition to the incredible ambiance of the city and delicious food, we walked away with additional knowledge of how the charter school sector operated, a deeper understanding of various structural needs, and new connections. Here are four takeaways from this year’s conference.
1. Charter Schools are Changing the Landscape of Education
School choice is growing at a rapid pace. According to Public First NC, there are over 200 charter schools in NC, compared to the 34 that existed in 1997. Beyond empowering students and parents to have a say in where their child goes to school, there was a fervor in the air amongst attendees that spoke to their desire to serve within the charter landscape. I spoke to one attendee who shared how her all-girls school, the first of its kind in Wilmington, was making progress and learning to lean into the growth they had experienced to empower the next generation of leaders. In her case, they were providing young girls with an alternative approach to education that helped them grow both as students and women. The woman I spoke to had a zest for knowledge and inspiration, as was the case for the majority of the people I had the chance to interact with.
2. Chris Singleton is a Must-See Speaker
It may not be an exaggeration to say that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house during Singleton’s keynote speech. After tragically losing his mother in 2015 to gun violence, he has turned his sorrow into a story he hopes to share with the world. He wants to share what has emerged for him since his loss: a story of hope and unity with a mission to end racism. He urged educators to apply his message in the classroom and emphasis the power they have to initiate hard conversations that leads to powerful change. Whether it is through the curriculum, one on one conversations, or uses of media to bring certain issues to light, Singleton urged the room to join him on his mission of uniting the world.
3. It Takes a Village
As someone who grew up in and worked in public schools, the organization of charter schools has opened my eyes to how many moving parts there are to building a successful school. When I wasn’t representing Rhodes Branding in the exhibit hall, I was networking with other businesses and school leaders in the charter space. From financial institutions to Ed Tech to branding agencies like us, there is a tremendous amount of community and business support for the work of charter schools.
4. People are Craving Change
The theme of the entire conference was “Rock The Boat,” which can easily translate to “change is needed.” While our team attended different sessions, we could all agree that each session and speaker alluded to how the educational landscape has shifted to evoke change. Sessions featured best practices for handling angry parents, guiding a student through the struggles that social media can bring, and updated legislation to help move charter schools forward.
Interested in learning more about how branding can help transform your school? Contact us today.