Virginia Education Summit held at Liberty University
More than 30 leaders from across Virginia came together to discuss the future of education in the Commonwealth during the 2016 Virginia Education Summit held Friday at Liberty University.
Delegate Steve Landes, chairman of Virginia’s House of Delegates Education Committee, and Senator Steve Newman, chairman of the Virginia Senate Education and Health Committee, designed the two-day summit to unite leading education experts and legislators to examine issues related to K-12 education, postsecondary education, and the workforce, diving into topics such as digital learning and technology, low-performing schools, school leadership, and the latest reauthorization of the Every Student Succeeds Act.
The University of Virginia and The Hunt Institute, an affiliate of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, worked alongside Del. Landes and Sen. Newman to organize and host the event.
The summit featured remarks from Del. Landes, Sen. Newman, former North Carolina Governor Jim Hunt, and Dr. Javaid Siddiqi, executive director and CEO of The Hunt Institute and former Virginia Secretary of Education.
Liberty’s Provost Ron Hawkins offered remarks about his passion for education and how it transformed his life.
“Education is more than just an interest of mine,” he said. “I count it a great privilege to be in this place, where I can influence policy, procedure, and faculty and help students achieve their God-given potential.”
Hawkins recalled his sixth-grade teacher being the first educator to believe in him, saying “that sixth grade teacher planted a vision in my heart and mind and a passion that later took root inside me.”
“It is important that we grasp the significance of what we do and the role education plays,” he said. “We are giving people a leg up so that they can move ahead and contribute to the state of Virginia, the United States, and the world.”
Hawkins added that he believes education can change the world.
“It is not that I am just a provost at Liberty University, but it is also that I have this unbelievable conviction that education can be transformative and that education is the way of moving forward,” he said.
Through a series of panel discussions and presentations, legislators also heard from a variety of experts, including Neil Ridley, director of the state initiative, Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University; B.J. Burch, vice president and general manager of BWX Technologies; Scott Palmer, managing partner and cofounder of Education Counsel; Dr. Courtney Brown, vice president of strategic impact at the Lumina Foundation; Peter Blake, director of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia; and a host of Virginia principals, superintendents, higher education leaders, and educators.
After the sessions ended, guests had the opportunity to tour the Jerry Falwell Library, which displays cutting-edge, interactive features and is the focal point of academic life at Liberty University. Strategically located in the center of campus, the library supports teaching, learning, and research by providing information, resources, spaces, and related services for students.