Hello Forsyth Tech students!
It is more important than ever during these stressful times to consider how our relationships with each other are so critical to the success of our college and its impact on our community. Tomorrow, June 19th, marks an important and historic day known as Juneteenth, which commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. In honor of this important day of remembrance and celebration, all college locations will close at noon tomorrow.
As always, we exist to advance student success, and our students must come first. Therefore, some face-to-face classes and lab may need to meet tomorrow afternoon.
I hope you’ll join me in reflecting on the significance of Juneteenth, a day in which enslaved people in Galveston, Texas, finally learned that they were “then, thenceforward, and forever free.” Those words, forming part of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, had been written almost two-and-a-half years earlier, but for reasons that remain often debated, the enslaved people in southern Texas did not hear them until the arrival of Union soldiers on June 19, 1865.
As we all know, a proclamation of freedom did not end the evils wrought by the horrible institution of slavery, but it was the beginning of a new journey, a new life, for those who had previously existed only as someone else’s property. This is indeed an event to celebrate, and a time to commit ourselves, in the face of continued injustice and inhumanity, to building a stronger and more equitable world for everyone.
Please let me also take this chance to call attention to two critical steps towards our call to action. First, tomorrow, Friday, June 19, at noon, we will have our first Can We Talk? virtual meeting as part of our new series of Courageous Conversations to Acknowledge the pain caused by racism, discrimination and oppression, to Affirm our commitment to Black students, faculty and staff, and to Act on the national calls of justice locally. Please join us!
Additionally, as I mentioned last week, our Diversity & Inclusion Council is working on a set of resources and a way to engage and share those resources in an internal social media-like platform. While this is not complete quite yet, they have taken an important step forward and developed a wonderful resource for all of us on Juneteenth. This compilation – while not 100 percent complete or comprehensive – is a fantastic launching point for us. It is chock full of history and resources. I strongly encourage you to take some of your time off on Juneteenth reviewing this and seeing how each of us can contribute to a better world for all of our citizens.
Grant from Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust to expand Forsyth Tech Cares
I wanted to share some wonderful news, hot off the press! Forsyth Tech has been awarded a grant for $440,000 from the Kate B. Reynolds (KBR) Charitable Trust to help us expand Forsyth Tech Cares beyond the initiative we started during COVID-19. Since the end of last year, we had been working with KBR and developing a grant to build a “web” or network for comprehensive, holistic wrap-around services for students. This funding and the subsequent expansion of the Forsyth Tech Cares initiative born as a response to COVID-19, will help us increase student persistence and retention.
When COVID-19 happened and we were moving classes online, we knew there were a disproportionate number of students that did not have resources available to work remotely. There would be needs for computers, internet access, emergency financial assistance, and making sure students were doing okay mentally and emotionally. Since that time, we’ve had almost 1,500 requests in to Forsyth Tech Cares. This funding will be transformative for our students!
The grant will allow us to hire two full-time case navigators who will help students overcome barriers by connecting them to support services and resources to overcome academic and non-academic, “life happens” needs, like childcare, transportation, disability testing, legal aid, healthcare. The grant will also provide access for Navigators and others to that will facilitate connections for students to a network of resources. This funding helps us better coordinate resources internal to Forsyth Tech, and will also help us enhance our relationships with critical community partners.
I’m sure there are many people to thank for Forsyth Tech Cares responses, but I would like to take this time to personally thank Dr. Stacy Waters-Bailey, Kenyetta Richmond, Greg Young, and Della Lawson who took on Forsyth Tech Cares with passion and have worked countless hours to meet the needs of students and staff. Thank you!
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in North Carolina, I wanted to clarify some steps we are taking to protect our staff and students. We want everyone to both be safe and feel safe and we will listen to all concerns and take as many safety precautions as possible. In response to the most recent issues brought to our attention, we have purchased face shields for faculty and students who are returning to campus for hands-on labs this summer. These are only for faculty and students in hands-on labs. We believe these shields, along with deliberate social distancing and reduced numbers of students in labs at one time, will provide greater protection. If you are participating in an on-campus class or lab this summer, the use of either a mask or a face shield is now mandatory. If and when we return to lecture classes in person this summer, cloth masks are recommended, while face shields are mandatory for hands-on labs.
I encourage all of you to continue to follow precautionary steps to keep us all safe, including wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing and using proper hand-washing protocols. As a reminder, lecture-only classes remain remote for now, with plans to introduce a face-to-face option for some lecture classes in early July, unless the virus situation and state guidelines change.
When we receive notice of a new positive COVID-19 case, we will report that to you through TechAlerts. We want you to be informed and also, we are required by the Clery Act to report those cases to you as a matter of campus safety. If you have any questions or concerns, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forsyth Tech Courageous Conversations Series: Acknowledgment, Affirmation and Action
As I mentioned in my introduction, during the month of June, we will host three conversations. Please join us!
Can We Talk? Hearing the voices of our students, faculty and staff during this time of racial unrest.
Meeting Platform: Blackboard Collaborate (Help Guide)
Browser Requirements: Use compatible versions of Firefox, Chrome, Edge and Microsoft Edge with Blackboard Collaborate. Do NOT use Internet Explorer. Click here to do a Browser Check
Drive-Through Brand Launch Party
We hope you all will join us as we reveal our new logo, tagline, look and feel… and how we arrived at the selection.
Mark your calendars for Thursday, June 25, for the “Brand Launch Party – Drive-Thru Style” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in parking lot CC3 of the Strickland Center near Horticulture! You may stay safe in your car, while you drive through the parking lot. We will have giveaways, food, name tags, business cards and lots of fun!
During the drive through, Forsyth Tech is partnering with Second Harvest Food Bank to help end hunger especially in these difficult times. Please consider bringing a canned or non-perishable food item with you to donate.
Next Facebook Live – Tuesday, June 23, 2 p.m.
I have been enjoying engaging with our students and with so many of you in the Facebook Live sessions each week. I look forward to continuing these engagement opportunities with our next FB Live on Tuesday, June 23 at 2 p.m. Please join me if you can – I look forward to talking with you and answering your questions.
Knowing and Doing
I would like to leave you with one thought for the week:
“You may write me down in history with your bitter, twisted lies,
you may trod me in the very dirt.
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”
Maya Angelou will long be remembered as a noted author, poet and resident of Winston-Salem. To honor her memory, and many, many others, let’s all rise and lift each other up. With the events in our world over the past few weeks, her words are a reminder that we commit to liberty, freedom and justice for all.
I am grateful for all of you. Stay safe and stay well!
Dr. Janet N. Spriggs
Forsyth Technical Community College