By Julie Song | Chief Compliance Officer, QuintilesIMS
I started my career in Houston as a Teach for America corps member in the earliest years of the program. As a young teacher at McReynolds Middle School, I taught students who struggled with poverty, gang violence, language barriers, and other obstacles to learning that many are fortunate to avoid. The Houston Independent School District itself wasn’t flush with cash, nor was McReynolds. I did what I could to supplement meager classroom supplies with my own money, but a first-year teaching salary only went so far.
A teacher resource center across town made a huge difference in what I was able to do for my students. Available to Houston public school teachers who were willing to make the trip, this resource center was a hub for teacher support. It offered lesson plans, project ideas, and opportunities to collaborate with other teachers. It was a veritable bonanza of stencils, construction paper, glue sticks, lamination materials, photocopiers, and other tools that McReynolds simply couldn’t afford. It was glorious and it allowed me to bring resources and ideas to my classroom and to create learning experiences for my students that they otherwise wouldn’t have had.
In many ways I think of WakeEd Partnership as a larger, more extensive, more sophisticated version of that teacher resource center in Houston. Wake County provides a good baseline of support for teachers throughout the Wake County Public School System. WakeEd bolsters that support with extra resources, programming, and experiences. Teacher Innovation Grants, SummerSTEM, and World Café are just three WakeEd programs, and they are immensely valuable to Wake County teachers and students.
As a Raleigh resident and business person, I appreciate the enormous benefits that our strong public school system yields the community by cultivating educated citizens and an attractive base for companies and people considering relocation. Those benefits accrue to everyone, even those without students in the public schools. As a parent of three WCPSS students, I am particularly grateful to WakeEd for the work it does to ensure that WCPSS students will have more opportunities than those provided as a starting point by taxpayers. I want our students to be exposed to classroom innovations that help them to think beyond what is immediately before them and imagine opportunities in fields they might not have considered.
WakeEd makes those opportunities possible. Our students may be the most direct beneficiaries, but all of us, including QuintilesIMS, are fortunate to have WakeEd playing the role that it does.