On Sept. 21, Anson County Early College hosted a very special visitor. So special in fact that ACEC has kept it a secret until now (and we’re about to explode with excitement)… Here’s a hint: think big, like Bill Gates but not Bill Gates. Allan Golston, President of the United States Program (which funds programs like early colleges throughout the nation). Golston was accompanied by two of his colleagues from Jobs for the Future: President and CEO, Marlene Seltzer, and Vice President of the High School through College program, Joel Vargas. North Carolina New Schools (which founded ACEC) is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Two shiny, black limousines complete with retractable steps arrived at the LRC building on South Piedmont Community College’s campus to deliver Golston and his team. ACEC rolled out the proverbial red carpet to welcome the special guests for a light breakfast and meet-and-greet with ACEC faculty and staff, as well as a panel of students and parents. Before the official panel meeting began, ACEC teacher Kevin Adams welcomed the guests and Allan Golston and his team introduced themselves. Golston opened by saying that he and our esteemed visitors chose to “get out of the office” and visit successful early colleges in order to see success in action. He had heard good things about ACEC and was very pleased to visit our school: to put the ACEC name with ACEC faces. Super-senior Michelle Xiong shared her senior project, a documentary video about ACEC; there was not a dry eye in the room.
ACEC Principal Deborah Davis joined the panel that passionately talked about various aspects of ACEC, which at times became very emotional. Student Gennifer Jones and her mother were among those on the panel. Gennifer remarked feeling good about ACEC’s impact on Golston and “through our tears and our laughter, we really showed him we are a family.” Her mother was pleased and honored to be included on the panel and expressed how much she was inspired by ACEC’s talent of helping others. Topics discussed during the meeting included academics, job shadowing, internships, volunteering, community service, the graduation project, seminar, SKIP/SLICE/CARE, college ramp-up, the school plays and variety talent shows, diversity in our school, college and career readiness, personalization/relationship piece, public speaking, and project-based learning. Above all, the panel passionately showed that ACEC was a special school because we are a family.
In October, Allan Golston thanked Davis for her hospitality and “[her] commitment to student success and their future careers.” In his letter sent to Mrs. Davis, Joel Vargas remarked: “We wanted to visit your school, in particular, because of your long record of success at accelerating students into and through college — especially those who too often face obstacles to completing a college degree. Our visit was outstanding. Your parents, students, and staff are an inspiration. And you are clearly an extraordinary leader. You all left an indelible impression. The school is a real family - full of aspiration, trust, dedication, and shared commitment to everyone’s success. And your personal stories of overcoming obstacles and supporting others to do the same are testaments to the power of hard work, hunger for knowledge, skilled teaching, community, and grace. The impressive data about your school on paper — with which we familiarized ourselves before visiting - was made more vivid by the visceral power of your individual stories and collective success story of the school.”
So what does this mean for the future of ACEC, Anson County Schools, and the entire Anson community? The visit by such prominent members of the educational world was an honor and distinction to ACEC as well as all of Anson County. Anson is out there — larger than Polkton or Wadesboro. Larger than North Carolina. Our community’s legacy has reached the west coast: it has crossed the nation; it has made significant connections… “We are Anson.”
It was truly an honor to host Allan Golston and his team from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Jobs For the Future.