In late 2015 Rev Jay Bissett, then pastor in Hickory NC, with a long history in public education advocacy, initiated a resolution for the Western Conference of the United Methodist Church. Whereas this draft resolution calling for, among other things, additional funding for NC public schools, did not make the floor of that Conference in 2016, he did work with staff at the North Carolina Conference and it passed the following resolution at its 2016 Annual Conference. The resolution noted the state of North Carolina public education in relation to the past, to other states, and calls for action by every United Methodist.
The imperative from the resolution is focused on mobilization…………….
Therefore, we call upon local churches in the North Carolina Annual Conference and the Western North Carolina Annual Conference to support public education by:
- Honoring teachers for the crucial work they do with young people; and advocating for appropriate salaries commensurate with their vital role in society;
- Encouraging young people of our congregations to enter the teaching profession;
- Insisting that all curricula present the best textbooks and teaching at all levels, acknowledging that we encourage children to read, to imagine, and to understand the many wonders of God’s creation;
- Advocating for the inclusion of differently-abled students in our classrooms, and ensuring that teachers have the special training needed to meet these children’s needs;
- Advocating at the state and local level for adequate public school funding and equitable distribution of state funds; and supporting efforts to end unjust educational disparities between rich and poor communities;
- Learning about public school issues, offering candidate forums during school board elections, and educating church members about local funding ballot issues and about the historical role of churches in creating and supporting public schools;
- Advocating for strengthened teacher training, for enhanced professional development for teachers and administrators, and for policies that assign teachers only to disciplines in which they are fully prepared, to classes whose size encourages individualized assistance, and to schedules that give teachers time to prepare or consult with other teachers, students, and parents;
- Advocating for universal, early, and quality preschool education for all children; and
- Advocating for public education as a basic human right; and not relying solely on school fund-raising and state alternative revenues, such as gambling, for financial support.
Rev Jay Bissett M Div. Co-Chair. Pastor at Gastonia UMC in the Western Conference of the UMC. Jay initiated the resolutions that resulted in the formation of UMAPS.
Brian Heymans M Ed Co-Chair. Brian chairs the Board of Church and Society in the North Carolina Conference. He is a retired business consultant with extensive experience at the interface of business human resource needs and education delivery systems. He has served on several education institution boards and his special interest is in congregational mobilization, getting UMC members to advocate for justice in every aspect of society.
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is a retired teacher and administrator with more than 30 years experience in North Carolina public and private schools. Wade has an MA in English from UNC-Chapel Hill as well as National Board Teacher Certification. He is a member of Main Street UMC Kernersville where he teaches adult Sunday School and serves on the Pre-School Board. Wade believes public schools and the rights of all children to a sound education are keys to responsible citizenship, solid economics, and a strong democracy.
Rev Molly White J.D. M Div. Molly White was appointed to Hayes Barton United Methodist Church in July 2018. She serves on the North Carolina Conference Board of Church and Society and is passionate about supporting public schools.
Molly grew up in Richmond, Virginia. She graduated from the University of Virginia a B.S. in History then attended the University of Pittsburgh graduating with a J.D. in 2005. She practiced law – mostly corporate real estate law – in Charleston, West Virginia, then attended Duke Divinity School. She graduated with an M.Div. in June 2016.
Dr. Michael D. Priddy He currently serves as Interim Executive Director of the Public School Forum of North Carolina. Prior to this role, Dr. Priddy was the Immediate Past Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Public School Forum, having served on this Board since 2002.
Dr. Priddy’s 36-year career in education began as a high school math and social studies teacher in Northampton County and culminated as Superintendent of Pitt County Schools in Greenville, NC. During those years, Priddy served in just about every capacity of leadership in North Carolina school systems, having spent a large portion of his career in Guilford County. Even after retirement, Priddy served as interim superintendent in two rural North Carolina systems while they searched for permanent superintendents. Dr. Priddy is a three-time graduate from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, having earned his doctorate in education in 1981. His Curriculum Vita lists more than 40 publications, reports and national presentations. In addition to serving as interim Executive Director for the Forum, Dr. Priddy also serves as an Educational Consultant for 21 st Century Leadership, LLC.
Dr. Priddy has been recognized for his work in North Carolina education, including the prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 2005 and, most recently, the Old North State Award awarded to him by Governor Roy Cooper in 2018. He was Healthy Schools Superintendent of the Year in 2005 and received the Outstanding Educator Award from the North Carolina PTA in 2003. He was inducted into the Educators Hall of Fame at East Carolina University in 2002. In 2003 and 2005, respectively, he received the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for Outstanding Service to Humanity from the Pitt County Black Ministerial Conference and the NAACP Community Service Award.
David Rockefeller David is a member of Edenton Street UMC in Raleigh, the former Capital District Lay Leader and Congregations for Children Coordinator. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education and advanced certificates in curriculum, instruction and educational leadership. He served for 32 years in North Carolina public schools as a teacher, teacher assessor, assistant principal, principal, and curriculum director. He maintains an active schedule as a consultant and volunteer in public schools in the Raleigh area.