The Forsyth Promise-Be the Change Community Convening

The panel consisted of Malishai Woodbury, chair of the WSFCS Board of Education, Stan Law, CEO of the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina, and Karen Roseboro, instructional superintendent for WSFCS Inspire 340 Schools.

The Forsyth Promise-Be the Change Community Convening
March 07
05:00 2019

The Forsyth Promise is a values-driven organization guided by the core values of educational equity, inclusive stakeholder engagement, and data driven decision making striving to catalyze systemic change in education to realize the organization’s vision; that every child in Forsyth County receives the best education possible and is fully equipped to thrive throughout life.

The organization hosted their quarterly Be the Change convening, which was a multi-faceted event that explored the concept of educational equity through an examination of their core measures for education, a screening of the documentary film “Beyond the Bricks,” facilitated table conversation, and a panel discussion.

The Executive Director of The Forsyth Promise, Wendy Poteat, highlighted many areas of data based on the organization’s 2018 report, stating that, “students of color and students who are experiencing economic disadvantage are falling behind in Forsyth County in alarming numbers and they are not catching back up.” She also asked the over 150 attendees to recognize that partnerships move at the speed of trust and that there needed to be courageous conversations as partners in community. She emphasized that moving forward together as allies and not adversaries meant that no one in the room could opt out.

The documentary, “Beyond the Bricks,” was screened, which follows two African-American males and their experiences in the New Jersey school system. It highlighted the lifeline of support they received from compassionate community leaders and alternative education programs that addressed the root causes of their problems with staying focused in school.

The audience was then led by facilitators to have deeper discussions at each table about the data that was presented and what it meant to them. People were asked about the role that the community needs to play in changing the outcomes that persist in Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools for students. The conversation also focused on how community collaborations could be strengthened to impact greater student success. The conversation ended with community members reporting out and sharing their insight into how to start to realize systemic change in Forsyth County. The attendees were energized and prepared to ask the panel some very important questions.

The panel consisted of Malishai Woodbury, chair of the WSFCS Board of Education, Stan Law, CEO of the YMCA of Northwest North Carolina, and Karen Roseboro, instructional superintendent for WSFCS Inspire 340 Schools. The panel was asked several questions about the data and the glaring disparities that are present and how we can begin to move past conversation and into actual strategies for action. They were asked about policies and practices that need to be addressed that disproportionately impact African-American males.

Stan Law responded very candidly about what it is like to be an African-American male and the stress and hurt that comes with that reality. He pointed out that the issues have to be addressed truthfully, saying, “This is not a school system problem, this is a community problem. We have to collaborate and work intentionally.”

Questions from the audience were very focused with intentionality and the feeling that the community is ready to move collectively to force changes. One audience member asked Board of Education Chair Malishai Woodbury what the ideal resume of the next superintendent should look like and she responded, stating, “The ideal candidate would have experience with turning around a district and would see WSFCS as a challenge, but would possess the confidence that bold moves would be made to transforming low performing schools.” After the panel, she assured the community that there will be a national search.

Stan Law also shared new plans for the Winston Lake YMCA that will offer office spaces to community organizations and give people in the community better access to wrap-around services. There will be a capital campaign that will renovate the YMCA. Stan spoke very candidly about East Winston Salem being one of the most underfunded communities he has ever witnessed. He also made a bold statement that spoke to alignment of resources stating that “Organizations that are not producing outcomes should be stripped of their funding.”

The Forsyth Promise ended the evening announcing a $150,000 grant they have received to launch their Community Coalition Leadership Program, that will focus on stakeholder engagement and grassroots mobilization. The event left participants thinking a bit differently about the thread of equity, what it means for students, and how the community must work together to move this work forward.

Visit to find out more about the organization and how to become a part of the work.

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