An EdTalks 2019 Recap: A Night of Celebrating Extraordinary Educators, Life-changing Education

EdTalks Crowd Shot

The NC State College of Education hosted EdTalks: A Celebration of K-12 Education in Stewart Theatre on the evening of Monday, Oct. 21. Six hundred people gathered to hear local leaders and celebrities discuss the importance of K-12 education and to celebrate College of Education alumni who have received national, state and district-wide awards in 2018-19 for their work in K-12 schools.

“Looking back on my education and my teachers along the way, I know how much they have molded my life. I look back with appreciation for the guidance that I received and lessons I learned from those teachers that I still remember today,” said WRAL-TV Anchor and EdTalks emcee Debra Morgan. “I am sure you have a principal, a teacher, an educator or a counselor who has stayed with you all of these years; and [EdTalks] is about celebrating those educators, the profession of education and the incredible work being done in the K-12 schools across North Carolina.”

Below is a look back at the celebration and takeaway messages from the six keynote speakers.


You Will Get Frustrated, But You Really Are Making a Difference

Wes Moore, NC State Women’s Basketball Coach

“Education has changed my life and I owe everything I have to education. As educators, we sometimes can get frustrated, we can sometimes wonder are we really making a difference. And let me just tell you, yes, you are. We can all get frustrated. We’ve all had great players that maybe weren’t as motivated and you’ve had students that maybe didn’t have a love for education, even though you saw great potential in them. But I would just encourage you to be patient with them, keep inspiring and keep teaching.”

During EdTalks, the NC State College of Education recognized 11 alumni who won national, statewide and districtwide awards for their work in K-12 schools in 2018-19.

Meet Them

You Aren’t Just Educators, But Mentors and Family

Jacqueline Gonzalez, 2017-18 NC State Student Body President

“The truth is my teachers weren’t just educators. They were my mentors. They were my family. The people I ran to who would hold me when I was ready to crumble or the people I ran away from because they were wanting to hold me accountable. And that’s who all K-12 teachers are. They see right through your excuses and they see into your future. And they saw into mine. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for these educators. That’s K-12 educators every day. I leave today asking you, ‘What did you learn today that you didn’t know this morning?’”

You Are Getting Them to the Finish Line

 Scott Reintgen ’12MAT, Young Adult Novelist and Former English Teacher

“One of the hard parts about being an educator of any kind is we are often working with people in transition, in progress. Instead of getting to see that final result, them reaching the finish line, we often see the steps along the way. We don’t always get that big rewarding moment where we see where they end up or what happens next. It’s an honor to be the person that stands beside that student and walks them a stepping stone at a time and moves them forward just enough so when that next person comes through — that next teacher, that next coach, that next mentor — when they get that kid or that student, they’re ready to take them by the hand and lead them on. We are doing this sort of collective work of getting them to the finish line.”

Basketball handlers with AB Combs Leadership Magnet Elementary School

You Are Changing Entire Lives, Families and Communities

Mishel Gomez, Emily Krzyzewski Center Alumna

“In 2014, I graduated from high school. And just last year, in 2018, I became the first in my family to graduate from college. Today, I work for a strategic communications firm doing nonprofit work. Everyday as I drive to work, I think about how my life would be so different if it weren’t for my family who instilled the value of an education. Now, I’m on my way to achieving so many more dreams and it’s all because K-12 education serves as a foundation. My success has not only been my success, it’s definitely been my family’s as well. And today, I can confidently say that education definitely changes lives. Because it’s not only changed my life, but it’s changed the life of my family and my community.”

Attendees shared 220+ posts about the event on social media -- enough to get #EdTalks2019 trending in the Triangle.

You Provide the Key Ingredient for Lifelong Success

Hilda Pinnix-Ragland, Retired Vice President of Duke Energy

“Education starts with a strong belief in our students that if you have a strong expectation of a child, you give them the support, and that is the support of books and great teachers, and a great continuous education, and a strong supportive community with great bond referendums, with great dollars and support, we can be successful. For me, education was the key and continues to be the key ingredient for my success. I believe it’s the key ingredient, not just for America, but for the world’s overall success.”

EdTalks Speakers

You Are Feeding Kids — Mind, Body and Soul

Freebird McKinney, 2018 North Carolina Teacher of the Year

“We as educators are literally and figuratively feeding the kids — mind, body and soul. This is the role of the village teacher – to think globally but to teach locally. This is the efficacy of public education – to provide and guard opportunity and access to our students through the allowance of their self actualization. So they can see themselves in the story. As educators, we can create that community of care that nurtures the whole child. That makes sure that social and emotional learning is taken care of. We can make sure that each one of our students see themselves. We can create culturally responsive lesson plans that celebrate the diverse beauty of our students’ stories. Ultimately, we have the power to create a system for each and every one of our students that has hope for every single person in that community of care sees themselves – their purpose, their value, and their meaning.”

Were you not able to attend, or do you want to experience EdTalks again?

"The single most important thing that our country can do for our people is to educate them and after that, to take care of them medically. But it starts out with education. Education is the foundation for success."

- Mike Krzyzewski
Duke Men's Head Basketball Coach

EdTalks: A Celebration of K-12 Education graphic wolf

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