Education briefs: Sponsors needed to provide summer meals

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 20, 2022

RALEIGH – More than 900,000 North Carolina students rely on the nutritious meals and snacks served during the school year through the School Breakfast, School Lunch, and Afterschool Meals Programs.

When school is out of session, North Carolina’s Summer Nutrition Programs help fill the gap by providing free meals and snacks to children who might otherwise go hungry.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, more families have relied on the Summer Nutrition Programs to provide healthy, appealing meals for their children. Last summer, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction approved 184 community sponsors to help provide reimbursable meals for children in our state. Through these community partnerships, community and school sites served over 21 million meals to hungry children.

The need for sponsoring agencies and sites for Summer Nutrition Program is at an all-time high. One child struggling with hunger is one too many. Schools and community organizations are needed to serve as sponsors for Summer Nutrition Programs in 2022 to help ensure children who have limited access to food at home get the nutritious meals they need for optimal growth, development and overall well-being.

Program sponsors are eligible to receive federal reimbursement for all qualifying meals served to children.

“Our goal is to increase the number community sponsors that can partner with us to help provide reimbursable meals to food-insecure children,” State Superintendent Catherine Truitt said. “School and summer meals provide students with essential nutrients needed for growth, development and learning. Participation in School and Summer Nutrition Programs also provide educational enrichment and support social emotional learning.”

The core purpose of these programs is to bridge the gap of food insecurity for children eligible for free or reduced-priced school meals. Acceptable sites may be a location where meals are served in a supervised setting and open to all children in the community or one that serves specific children at a summer camp. Meals served at all sites must be provided at no charge to eligible children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability.

To learn how your organization may become involved in providing summer meals to children in your community, please visit the NCDPI, Summer Nutrition Program website or contact the NCDPI Section Chief for Summer and Special Nutrition Programs Cynthia Ervin.

Partnership launches assistant principal accelerator program

Partnering with the North Carolina Principals and Assistant Principals’ Association and the Belk Foundation, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and its partners will establish the Assistant Principal Accelerator Program, a statewide leadership initiative for rigorously selected Assistant Principals with a high potential for being fast-tracked into principalship.

Funded by NCDPI and the Belk Foundation, NCPAPA will establish the AP Accelerator Program, a statewide leadership initiative for rigorously selected Assistant Principals with a high potential for being fast-tracked into the principalship to combat shortages across the state.

Each year North Carolina needs 250-300 highly trained school leaders who are ready to serve as principals, far more than the current supply. The shortage of principal-ready candidates hits the state’s highest-needs schools especially hard where turnover is the highest and conditions are the most challenging.

Assistant Principals, who typically spend 3-5 years in the role, will enter the AP Accelerator Program and receive targeted leadership development and coaching from proven practitioners in the field. Using a concentrated curriculum of leadership development experiences and coaching, the program will accelerate the readiness of selected assistant principals to lead and turnaround high-needs schools.

NCPAPA will pilot and refine the curriculum with one cohort of 20-25 Assistant Principals and add additional cohorts with a goal of adding 100 principal-ready candidates each year to the candidate pool for high-needs schools.

“Excellent school leaders are critically important for North Carolina teachers, students and families,” said Belk Foundation Executive Director Johanna Anderson. “The Belk Foundation is pleased to support the innovative AP Accelerator Program to prepare principals.”

“As we know through the Wallace Foundation, principal effectiveness has a critical impact on student achievement and teacher satisfaction,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt said. “By investing in our assistant principals early in their careers, we make an investment in the future of North Carolina students and teachers. We appreciate the partnership of NCPAPA in helping us making this professional development opportunity a reality.”

“Investing in targeted, concentrated support for our most promising assistant principals is the best and fastest way to increase our pool of leaders who are ready and equipped to successfully lead their own schools,” said Shirley Prince, executive director at NCPAPA.