Fall 2018

Progress Report

December 6th, 2018

As we move into the holiday season, we at the Piedmont Renewal Network are excited to look back on a semester of growth and success. This semester marked the beginning of our new partnership with Mineral Springs Middle School in northeast Winston-Salem. On September 8th, 2018, over thirty sixth graders from Mineral Springs joined our returning group of students from Philo Hill Magnet Academy (now in 7th grade), to begin their journey in the College Lift Initiative. We now have the joy of working with dozens of low income 6th and 7th graders every week as they prepare for tuition free college!

There have been high levels of engagement from our student’s parents through the Family Accompaniment program. Approximately every other week, an adult representative of each student has has attended Family Accompaniment, where they have been given opportunities to engage in their student’s education, dialogue with our staff about challenges they are facing, and take part in seminars designed to provide them with the information and resources they need.

As our student body has grown, so has our teaching team, more than doubling in size since last semester. This expanding group of educators is overseen by the Piedmont Renewal Network’s new Academic Director, Dr. Willette Nash. After years of teaching at the elementary level in Winston-Salem, Dr. Nash became a curriculum administrator for Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools specializing in multicultural education. She has earned National Board Certification as a Middle Childhood Generalist, a masters’ degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and a doctorate of philosophy in Leadership Studies from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Dr. Nash’s education and experience have already enriched the College Lift Initiative program, and the Piedmont Renewal Network as a whole.

Dr. Willette Nash

Dr. Willette Nash

As our student body has grown, so has our teaching team, more than doubling in size since last semester. This expanding group of educators is overseen by the Piedmont Renewal Network’s new Academic Director, Dr. Willette Nash. After years of teaching at the elementary level in Winston-Salem, Dr. Nash became a curriculum administrator for Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools specializing in multicultural education. She has earned National Board Certification as a Middle Childhood Generalist, a masters’ degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and a doctorate of philosophy in Leadership Studies from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Dr. Nash’s education and experience have already enriched the College Lift Initiative program, and the Piedmont Renewal Network as a whole.

The Piedmont Renewal Network is patterning its College Lift Initiative after the University of Southern California’s Neighborhood Academic Initiative (NAI) program, which has seen tremendous results over nearly three decades. As we steer towards the success of the NAI program, we realize that our actions must be informed by quality data. This is why we are excited to announce that we have partnered with Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools and other community agencies in a comprehensive data sharing agreement. This agreement will enable us to closely monitor the progress of our students, with the goal of improving our services over the long term. We have always been committed to being as effective as possible for our students, and this increased access to data will serve as a vital tool to that end.

In our effort to find tuition free college options for our students, we have now partnered with both Winston Salem State University, Piedmont International University, and are on the cusp of securing official partnership from another local college. In addition, we are either in or soon to be entering partnership negotiations with every other college or university in the area. These talks have been going well, and we are truly hopeful that upon graduation, our students will be able to attend any local institution of higher education tuition free.

We are excited to announce that the University of Southern California will be sending a delegation representing the NAI program out to Winston Salem this January. This delegation is coming out to share first hand the change that NAI has brought to their community, and advocate for the change that the College Lift Initiative, patterned after NAI, could make in Winston-Salem. This is a tremendous opportunity to raise local awareness and support about what we are doing here in Winston-Salem, and we are grateful to our friends at the University of Southern California for their willingness to make the trip.

Special thanks to our staff, teachers, board of directors, and community partners that are continually making this dream a reality. We have come so far, and we are convinced that our best days are just ahead!