Department of Social Work and College of Education Partner for 2018 Spring Summit

On March 27, 2018, NC State’s Department of Social Work along with the NC State College of Education (CED) hosted the 2018 Interdisciplinary Summit: Strengthening Families, Communities and the Schools That Serve Them, which was held at the NC State University Club drawing a crowd of more than 300 social workers, educators and allies.

Inspiration for the partnership was due in large part to the recent teacher strikes in the State of North Carolina (NC), over better pay, better funding, and a general lack of teaching resources. With the current political climate, the Department of Social Work and CED felt the time had come to host a non-partisan summit to discuss how educators and social workers alike could come together to support and connect communities, families, and schools. “Being able to partner with the Department of Social Work maximized our ability to impact a broader and more diverse audience of stakeholders, who are critical to the success of our schools and communities” said Dr. Anona Smith Williams, Associate Dean for Student Success and Strategic Community Engagement for CED.

“This summit and the collaboration with the College of Education allowed us to bring meaningful and practical information to those who have direct interaction with our Families, Communities and Schools. The speakers inspired the attendees to fight for social justice and opportunity in all areas where they come in contact with those in need” said Dr. David Fitzpatrick, Teaching Assistant Professor and Head of the Department of Social Work Planning Committee, said of the partnership between CED and the Department of Social Work. 

The Summit boasted an exciting schedule, which began with welcomes from the Head of the Department of Social Work (Dr. Karen Bullock), Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (Dean Jeffrey Braden), and Dean of the College of Education (Dean Mary Ann Danowitz.) The welcomes were followed by a moving keynote address by NC Attorney General, Josh Stein (see video here). The Attorney General discussed the work the Department of Justice is currently involved in, highlighting how the Department is working to serve citizen interests and the opioid crisis in the US.

Some excerpts from the welcome and keynote:

“I love NC State because we like messy problems, and to tackle messy problems you can’t just do it from one vantage point. Social Workers can’t solve these problems alone; teachers can’t solve these problems alone. Law enforcement, all of the different organizations that are here, all of the different perspectives, are needed to tackle how do we make our communities better for the people who live there, and I am delighted that this is a way to convene multiple disciplines around a common problem… So roll up your sleeves and let’s work together to tackle this problem.”

– NC State College Humanities and Social Sciences Dean, Dean Jeffrey Braden

“We know that the number of children living in poverty has increased by 25 percent since 2008. Today, one our of four of our children live in poverty. Many of these children are under resourced… and we know that the best way to break the cycle of poverty is to call for the support and engagement of our families and communities. To address these challenges, it will require all of us to work together, that’s why it is importantand for me so heartwarmingthat, today, we have all of you here from different sectors.”

– NC State College of Education Dean, Dean Mary Ann Danowitz

After the keynote address, the conference moved to a panel discussion on how to strengthen families, communities and the schools that serve them. Featured panelists included:

William Cobey, Chair of the North Carolina State Board of Education; Jessica Holmes, Chair of the Wake County Commissioners; James White, BA, Executive Vice President, Organizational Relations, Triangle YMCA; and Jon Powell, Director of the Restorative Justice Clinic (moderator). A video of the panel discussion can be viewed here.

The panel was followed by lunch and a series of engaging and dynamic workshops (see schedule below.)

Breakout I:

  • North Carolina’s Greatest Challenge: The Impact of Poverty on Families, Communities, and Schools with Gene Nichol, JD; Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor, UNC Chapel Hill School of Law; and Verna Best, MS, Director/Grants Administrator, DHHS Office of Economic Opportunity (moderator). See video.
  • Serving Students’ Needs Through Interdisciplinary Collaboration with Christine Kushner, MPA, Board Member, Wake County Board of Education (moderator); Illiana Santillan-Carrillo, YFCS, Community Organizer, El Pueblo, Inc.; Darlene Johnson, MSW, ACSW,  Director of School Social Work, Wake County Public School System; and Chuck Small, MEd, NCC, Counselor, William G. Enloe High School.
  • Critical Discussion on Fatherhood and Male Engagement with Robin McWilliams, MS CED, Director, Students Advocating for Youth, College of Education, NC State (moderator); Deric J. Boston, MSW, Senior Lecturer, Department of Social Work, NC State; and Qiana Cryer-Coupet, PhD Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work, NC State.

Breakout II:

  • Strengthening Our Society Through Schools: a Collective Impact Vision with Terrance Ruth, PhD, Lecturer, Department of Social Work, NC State (moderator); Keith Sutton, MS, Board Member, Wake County Board of Education; and Andy Taylor, PhD, Professor, Political Science, SPIA, NC State. See video.
  • Building Strength Through Inclusion with Jamie Pearson ,PhD, Assistant Professor, Special Education, NC State (facilitator); Charity Brown Griffin, PhD, NCSP, Assistant Professor, School Psychology, Winston-Salem State University;
    Anne La Force, LPA, Clinical Director for the NC START Central Region; Nigel Pierce Assistant Professor, PhD, Special Education, North Carolina Central University; Tamara Dawkins, PhD, Associate Clinical Director, Chapel Hill , TEACCH Center; and Glenna Osborn, MEd, Director of Transition Services, UNC .TEACCH Autism Program
  • Understanding Substance Use Disorders Among Students and Their Families with Christopher Campau, BSW, Collegiate Recovery Coordinator, Addiction Professionals of North Carolina and Robert Horne, PhD, NCC, LPC, ACS, MAC, Assistant Professor, Counselor Education, North Carolina Central University.

The event received overwhelmingly positive feedback from attendees. “As a preservice teacher I found the perspectives offered in the symposium invaluable. The diversity of speakers, from social workers to educators to elected officials, was eye-opening and provided a much-needed holistic perspective on serving the needs of students and their families. It was hugely helpful to me to have the opportunity to learn about the resources we can use to help students in need, including specific situations such as children who are undocumented, children of color who are autistic, children with parents in prison, and more. The speaker from La Puebla made a major impression on me with her passionate advocacy for English Language Learners in our schools,” said summit attendee Sarah Fitch, Teacher in Wake County.

The NC State Department of Social Work and College of Education would like to take this opportunity to thank all who were involved in the planning of the 2018 Interdisciplinary Summit, including our sponsors, exhibitors, and contributing student organizations:



Student Organizations:

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