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Cecelia Thompson and Sharon Contreras, “What is SMART? Investing in the future of Guilford County Schools” (April 13)
April 13, 2022 @ 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Cecelia Thompson, Executive Director, Action Greensboro
Sharon L. Contreras, Ph.D., Superintendent, Guilford County Schools
What is SMART? Investing in the future of Guilford County Schools
Cecelia Thompson serves as Executive Director of Action Greensboro. Action Greensboro, together with the Chamber of Commerce, serves as the city’s primary economic and community development agency. Formed in 2001, Action Greensboro is a collaborative effort of six local charitable foundations working to leverage local philanthropic impact. In collaboration with business, higher education, and municipal government, Action Greensboro works to strengthen Greensboro’s economy and ensure the continuation of its excellent quality of life. In her role, Thompson leads a variety of efforts from talent and workforce development, K-20 education, urban livability, advocacy campaigns and city marketing efforts.
In 2020, Thompson co-chaired the 300-million-dollar school infrastructure bond campaign that achieved an unprecedented 73% of voter support. To meet the 2 billion in need indicated in the Guilford County Schools Facilities Master Plan, she is co-chairing the 1.7B and Fraction of a Penny SMART Schools Campaign in 2022.
In addition to her role at Action Greensboro, Thompson serves on the boards of the UNCG Board of Visitors, the Greensboro ABC Commission, and is a gubernatorial appointee to the North Carolina Humanities Council.
Prior to her work with Action Greensboro, Thompson served as Executive Director of the Guilford Green Foundation and Communications Officer for the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro. Originally from Gainesville, Florida, Thompson holds a B.A. in Political Science, Public Administration and Sociology from Elon University.
A passionate advocate for providing high quality education to all children, Dr. Sharon L. Contreras made history in August 2016 when she was sworn-in as the first woman, first person of Latina heritage, and the second African American Superintendent of Guilford County Schools. Dr. Contreras has been singularly focused on one goal – to ensure that every student graduates college and career ready.
The district is preparing students for post-secondary success by strengthening Career and Technical Education programs and by forming more public-private partnerships with businesses and universities. The district launched six new signature academies that will give students the competitive edge they deserve, and the programs align with in-demand job opportunities in local industries.
To eradicate achievement and preparation gaps, the district has identified and is preparing more students of color for gifted, honors and Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate and dual enrollment classes, as well as other enrichment opportunities.
The district also prioritizes the need to recruit, develop and retain a diverse and culturally proficient and high-performing workforce. There is an emphasis on teacher recruitment and retention, increased professional learning opportunities and compensation for those who perform better and lead or teach in high-needs schools.
Dr. Contreras created and presented a comprehensive, $2 billion facilities master plan which calls for, among other things, upgrades to safety and technology in all district schools as well as the rebuilding of 22 schools on existing sites and the full renovation of 19 schools.
She earned her doctorate in educational leadership and policy analysis and a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as master’s degrees in English literature and English education and a bachelor’s degree in English literature from the State University of New York at Binghamton.
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