The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation honored Dudley E. Flood, Ed.D., during a virtual ceremony Nov. 19 with the Friday Medal award, which recognizes significant, distinguished and enduring contributions to education. Flood is an educator and former administrator at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) who was instrumental in desegregating North Carolina’s schools.
“Dr. Flood has been an inspiration to so many North Carolinians over the years,” said Hiller A. Spires, Ph.D., Friday Institute executive director and associate dean in the NC State College of Education. “We are honored that he has received the Friday Medal for 2020 and has joined the distinguished list of honorees who precede him. Dr. Flood’s dedication to educational equity and excellence is unparalleled as he thrives to uplift teachers and children across North Carolina.”
The Friday Medal is given annually to selected individuals who embody the mission and spirit of the Friday Institute. It is named after Bill and Ida Friday, who were passionate advocates and leaders in education for more than 50 years. Flood is the 14th recipient of the Friday Medal.
“I can’t think of a more deserving or worthy individual to honor than Dr. Flood, especially at this time when education faces unprecedented challenges that are related to COVID-19 and also racial injustices,” said Mary Ann Danowtiz, D.Ed., dean of the College of Education, during the ceremony. “I’ve seen the impact that one individual can have on our entire K-12 educational system and the state. With his work to desegregate schools, Dr. Flood has touched the life of every child and adult who has gone through North Carolina’s public schools over the last 50 years.”
NC State University Chancellor Randy Woodson, Ph.D., also shared his memories of Flood during the ceremony, both of their work together on the UNC Board of Governors and their friendship over the years.
“His leadership for this state has been truly something that’s worthy of this honor,” said Woodson. “What a phenomenal leader for what seems like centuries, at least Dr. Flood would say, but really, these past six decades he’s brought so much vision and leadership to North Carolina.”
Flood first joined NCDPI in 1969 as a specialist in school desegregation and race relations, working 21 years there to create a state where all students could learn. He traveled the state serving as a liaison between federal and local education officials and moderated community discussions around desegregation. Dr. Flood continues to be a champion for educational equity today.
Judge David K. Baker Sr., District Court Judge for the 10th Judicial District of North Carolina, also spoke during the ceremony about Flood, who he has known for more than three decades. During his remarks, Baker recounted Flood’s stories that ultimately taught great lessons. When speaking to a group of people about how to bridge the racial divide, Flood made a point that we tend to fear that which we do not understand.
“Dr. Flood aptly pointed out that since the beginning of time, snakes have kind of gotten a bad rap and that much of what we fear about snakes is based on misunderstanding and ignorance,” said Baker. “It was a powerful lesson wrapped in a fascinating real-life story.”
Baker also shared the ways Flood has not only impacted the lives of others—from teachers and students to his fellow fraternity brothers—but also his own life.
“It’s been my great pleasure to know this great man,” said Baker. “From him, I’ve been able to watch and learn what it means to be a gentleman and a scholar, to lead with integrity and to lead with love, to speak up for what’s right without ever having to shut anyone else down, to be able to sit with kings but never lose the common touch, to be proud of one’s accomplishments, yet never too much, to never lose hope, to keep the faith, always believing that your purpose is to make this world a better place.”
Finally, Flood accepted his award, remarking on his friendship with Mr. Friday as well as the work that he still has to do.
“I didn’t get into education for a tour of duty. I got into education for the duration,” said Flood. “Until all the problems are solved, I am going to be in education. I’m going to be doing something that makes it better for somebody every day that I live, and I promise you that. And that is why I accept this medal with honor because I know that it’s what it represents. It represents continuity of purpose and continuing to do what you think will make this world a better place.”
The ceremony concluded with an acapella performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson, performed by Marsha Bailey Curtis, a Friday Institute accounting and purchasing specialist, and Cynetria Mason.
Also during the ceremony, Spires announced this year’s Friday Institute graduate student fellow winners, Arif Rachmatullah and Kathryn Rende, who will receive $2,000 to support their dissertation research. Rachmatullah is a doctoral candidate with a concentration in science education. His advisor is Eric Wiebe, Ph.D. Rende is a former environmental journalist and science museum educator with over 10 years’ experience in teaching digital media and science literacy. She is a doctoral candidate whose dissertation work is focused on social justice approaches to data and visual literacy in the classroom. Her advisor is Gail Jones, Ph.D.