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Local principal awarded national fellowship

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North Edgecombe High School Principal Donnell Cannon.

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BY AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Monday, November 19, 2018

North Edgecombe High School Principal Donnell Cannon recently was selected as one of 15 Opportunity Culture Fellows nationwide.

The 15 fellows come from multi-classroom leaders and principals serving in school districts that have adopted the Opportunity Culture model. This year’s fellows were selected as leaders who have achieved strong results in districts in Texas, Indiana, Arkansas and North Carolina, a press release from Public Impact said.

“I am incredibly excited to join the Public Impact team as an Opportunity Culture Fellow. In this role, I will partner with amazing leaders from across the country to re-imagine education by questioning the many ways we use people, time, technology, resources and space in schools in service of remarkable outcomes for children,” Cannon said. “We will have the opportunity as a broader community to continue the learning from the insights we’ve gathered from the Opportunity Culture models in our schools to help refine and advance ideas to strengthen the initiative both locally and nationally.”

The Opportunity Culture model, which now operates in more than 20 districts in nine states, extends the reach of excellent teachers and their teams to more students for more pay within recurring budgets, the press release said. Research is demonstrating that using highly effective teachers to provide multi-classroom leadership helps improve student learning growth in schools that employ the model as Edgecombe County Public Schools does in three of its schools on the north side of the county.

Once one of the worst-performing schools in the district, North Edgecombe High School under Cannon’s leadership has earned a C on the most recent school performance scores, making it now the second-best performing high school in the county. The school also has exceeded growth for the past two years. 

Edgecombe County Superintendent Valerie Bridges credits last year’s implementation of the Opportunity Culture model for the improvement that schools on the north side are seeing.

“In an Opportunity Culture, teachers with a proven track record of improving student academic outcomes support and lead other teachers in the classroom, sharing best practices. In addition, the schools in that feeder pattern narrowed their focus and have a renewed sense of community and engagement,” Bridges said in a previous interview.

Bridges said the school district plans to extend the Opportunity Culture model to schools on the south side of the district next year. 

Public Impact said that Opportunity Culture Fellows provide support to their cohort, take one another’s ideas back to their schools, write columns about their experiences and speak locally and nationally about their Opportunity Culture roles. Observations by fellows also help craft policy changes at Public Impact to improve the experience in the classroom.

Cannon said he expects the opportunity to serve as a fellow will benefit both him and the school district. 

“As an Opportunity Culture Fellow, I will engage in deep learning with a diverse network of experts and practitioners to imagine and design new learning experiences that all students deserve,” Cannon said. “The amazing leaders at each school in our district are building innovative learning environments for students and dreaming of bold, equitable school designs. My work as a fellow is my small contribution as a member of this family, to ensure we are advancing towards our collective commitment.”

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