North Carolina Virtual Academy (NCVA), a new K-12 online public charter school, named Joel Medley as Head of School. Joel, a life-long educator and award-winning teacher, school administrator, and state education official sat down for a Q&A about his background and the new role
Tell us about your experience prior to accepting the role as NCVA’s Head of School, and any notables you want to share.
Joel Medley: I’m the son of a high school dropout. I came home from basketball practice and sat at the kitchen table working on my homework while also helping my dad study for his G.E.D. When he walked across the stage and received that G.E.D., I knew education was where I wanted to go. I was only the third person in my immediate family to graduate from high school and the first to graduate from a four year university (and complete graduate degrees). I taught social studies at a charter school, served as an administrator in both charter and traditional schools, and served in both the North Carolina and South Carolina departments of education working with charter schools. As far as awards, here are a few:
2001 NC Character Educator of the Year for High School
2010 SC Charter Friend of the Year
2010 Inez M. Tennenbaum Award from the School Leadership Executive Institute at the SC Department of Education
October 30, 2011 “Tarheel of the Week” by the Raleigh News and Observer
What made you decide to move from your pervious role as Director of Charter Schools back into school administration?
JM: While serving as the Director of the NC Office of Charter Schools, I had the ability to see the different instructional methodologies based upon their adopted missions. Those nuances were making a positive difference for the students and families that chose to attend the charter schools. Such observation allowed me to broaden my educational perspective and fostered a desire to return to the school level. Previous opportunities presented themselves, but I wanted to find the right fit. I inquired as to whether the position was still available and then went through the process to explore the possibility. When the offer was made, our family decided to jump at the opportunity for something so unique for North Carolina.
Why are educational options like NCVA good for North Carolina?
JM: Simple – because they make a difference for children. One of the guiding principles of K12 is to “teach the individual not the group.” If children are our focus, then we need to develop and implement options that meet them where they are and take them to where they want to be. For instance, when we go to a clothing store, we select the style, color, and size that we want and that fit our need. NCVA is offering parents a different style, color, or size that meets their needs.