On October 27-28, 2022, The Hunt Institute hosted the 2022 Virginia Education Summit in Roanoke, V.A., in partnership with the Virginia Senate Education & Health and House Education Committees.
The Summit brought leading experts and practitioners together from around the country and Virginia to share their knowledge and engage legislators in constructive dialogue about critical education issues facing the Commonwealth. The event was co-chaired by Senate Education & Health Committee Chair Senator Louise Lucas and House Education Committee Chair Delegate Glenn Davis.
The first day of the Summit kicked off in Radford, V.A., with a site visit to McHarg Elementary School. After hearing from Radford City Schools Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Ellen Denny, STEAM Educator Blenna Patterson, Education Specialist Dr. Jamie Little, Principal Michelle Greene, and McHarg Parent Elena Weightman, legislators and attendees were given a tour of the school by Radford City Schools Superintendent Robert F. Graham and participated in “Tinker Tank,” a class focused on STEM concepts and computer science.
Attendees then traveled to Radford University to continue the day’s sessions, starting with a panel titled, “The Importance of Early Childhood Investment.” Senator Dr. Mamie Locke of Virginia provided opening remarks, and our Deputy Director for Early Learning Programs at The Hunt Institute, Dr. Lauren Zbyszinski, moderated a conversation that uplifted both the science of early development and Virginia’s efforts to translate it into thoughtful public policy. Panelists included North Dakota State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler, Secretary of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Dr. Barbara Cooper, and Virginia Deputy Superintendent of Early Childhood Care and Education Jenna Conway.
Next, attendees heard from resource experts on best practices for leveraging data to achieve a diverse educator workforce. Virginia Senator Jennifer McClellan, J.D., opened the session, before passing the floor to Winston–Salem State University Provost and Vice Chancellor Dr. Anthony Graham, who moderated the session. Roanoke City Public Schools Superintendent Verletta White and Teach Plus VP of Learning, Research, and Impact Mark Teoh dove into how Virginia can support a high-quality data system to better understand the educator landscape.
After a quick break, The Honorable Carrie Coyner introduced Barksdale Reading Institute CEO Kelly Butler who sat down with ExcelinEd’s Senior Policy Fellow Dr. Kymyona Burk, and University of Virginia’s Professor of Education Dr. Emily Solari to discuss the implementation of evidence-based literacy instruction in educator preparation programs and K-12 classrooms.
The following session, introduced by The Honorable Glenn Davis, explored creating, implementing, and sustaining innovative education models in Virginia. Thornburg Foundation’s Education Policy Officer Michael Weinberg moderated the conversation with the Director of the Center for Teacher Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University Dr. Kim McKnight, CodeRVA’s Executive Director Dr. Kume Goranson, and The Honorable Aimee Guidera, Virginia’s Secretary of Education.
Before driving back to Roanoke, VA, for dinner, Legislators were then given the unique opportunity to engage directly with superintendents from across Virginia in small groups to discuss how to support and maintain innovation in the upcoming school year.
As we brought Day One of the 2022 Virginia Education Summit to a close, The Honorable Schuyler VanValkenburg opened the floor for our very own Dr. Winn Decker, Deputy Director of Higher Education, to sit down for a fireside chat with Dr. Donna Price Henry of UVA Wise, The Honorable Kirk Cox of the Virginia Business Higher Education Council, and the Director of K-12, State, and District Partnerships at The College Board Valerie Keating. This session focused on the importance of internships in a future of higher education uncertainty in Virginia and beyond.
Day Two of the Summit took place at the Hotel Roanoke in downtown Roanoke. The first session examined Virginia’s current assessment systems, the achievement gaps that exist in the K-12 continuum, and how to ensure equitable learning recovery. SAS Director of Education and Civilian Federal Government Nadja Young moderated the session with resource experts Rashard Wright, the Chief of Staff at Newport News Public Schools, and Kimberly Richey, the Virginia Deputy Superintendent of School Quality, Instruction, and Performance.
Attendees then heard from The Honorable Jim Douglas of Vermont, Marymount University President Dr. Irma Becerra, Virginia’s Director for Diversity, Opportunity, and Inclusion Pathways Adria Merritt, and Radford University President Dr. Bret Danilowicz. This session, which was opened by The Honorable Ghazala Hashmi, focused on balancing the right to free speech with the ideal of open intellectual debate on which higher education was founded. McGuireWoods partner Farnaz Farkish Thompson moderated the session.
For our final session, Former Virginia Secretary of Education and Sr. Vice President of State Government Relations at McGuireWoods Consulting, LLC, Laura Worley Novey introduced Executive Director of State Council of Higher Education and former Secretary of Education in Virginia Peter Blake, who moderated a discussion on postsecondary funding opportunities. Panelists included Dr. Sharon Morrissey, the Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, and Dr. Makola M. Abdullah, Virginia State University’s President.
To bring the 2022 Virginia Education Summit to a close, Summit co-chairs Senator Louise Lucas and Delegate Glenn Davis reflected on the days’ conversations and steps moving forward.
We are incredibly grateful for all the resource experts, superintendents, and practitioners who made this event possible, and look forward to seeing how these critical conversations move education forward for Virginia students and school communities!