Groups aim to give High Point schools a unified voice

By Holly West

ENTERPRISE STAFF WRITER

HIGH POINT — A group of High Point movers and shakers is starting an effort to raise the profile of local schools and connect them with all the resources the city has to offer.

Matthew Thiel, first vice president of advancements for Wells Fargo Advisors in High Point and one of the group’s organizers, said there are lots of organizations and businesses that have partnerships with one or two schools. The new group hopes to work on bigger picture projects that encompass all 25 Guilford County Schools in High Point.

“If we can be somewhat of an umbrella bringing these pieces together, that’s what we want to do,” Thiel said at an organizational meeting for the group last Wednesday.

The group, which doesn’t yet have a name, is a steering committee of the Guilford Education Alliance. It has four areas of focus: partnerships, marketing and advocacy, strengthening academic programs and facilities improvements.

In addition to starting new initiatives, Thiel said he hopes the group can show people how many good things are already going on in High Point schools.

“The general perception is not as good as it could be,” he said. “I don’t believe it’s fair.”

The committee is piloting its efforts at four schools: Fairview Elementary School, Northwood Elementary School, Ferndale Middle School and High Point Central High School.

Its first project is already on the horizon. Guilford County Schools was recently awarded a grant for a K-8 summer reading camp. However, it needs somewhere to host the camp, and that’s where the steering committee comes in.

Attorney Jim Morgan, a member of the committee, said the project is a good example of how the group can work with Guilford County Schools.

“They have ideas,” he said. “We can make them happen in High Point.”

Multiple GCS officials are on the steering committee and are working with the group on what they call a “shared vision.”

The group is in the process of applying for several grants to kick-start its efforts.

Another item on the top of their agenda is hiring a part-time coordinator who can help handle day-to-day operations.

Committee members stressed that they are not trying to take the place of other groups working in the schools, but to fill in in areas that aren’t being addressed.

Member Rev. Joe Blosser, a trustee of the High Point Community Foundation and the Robert G. Culp Jr. Director of Service Learning at High Point University, said the group wouldn’t, for example, try to replicate the network of support services being mapped by Say Yes Guilford. In fact, two Say Yes leaders are on the committee.

“We’re hoping to say, here are the gaps,” Blosser said. “We want to look at the big picture and advocate for public schools throughout the city.”

As it works on a plan to start achieving its goals, the committee is looking for businesses, nonprofit organizations or individuals who would like to contribute.

Anyone who would like to join the steering committee or start a partnership with local schools should contact Guilford Education Alliance Executive Director Winston McGregor at 336-841-4332.

hwest@hpenews.com | 336-888-3617 | @hollyrwest