MCNC, the statewide leader for 21st century learning and administrator of the North Carolina Regional Education Network (NCREN), recently honored four individuals with the prestigious Empower and Endeavor awards.

The Endeavor Award recipients are Jay Dominick, of UNC-Charlotte, and Henry Schaffer, of N.C. State University.

Jay Dominick is the former chief technology officer at Wake Forest University and currently serves as associate provost for information and technology services and chief information officer (CIO) at UNC-Charlotte. Henry Schaffer is Professor Emeritus of Genetics and Biomathematics and Coordinator of Special IT Projects & Faculty Collaboration/ITD Interim Director Emeritus, LTS/DELTA for N.C. State.

New awards were presented to recognize persons who have not been long-term members of the NCREN Community but have made an immediate impact in their support. Recipients of the Empower Award are Benny Hendrix, of Rutherford County Schools, and Rhonda Moses, of Northampton County Schools.

“What will be a common need to make our students and schools successful for the future?” asked Hendrix. “I say the most important will be proper connectivity/infrastructure, and then all the great teaching and learning can take place with appropriate personnel, equipment and other resources. But, connectivity must be more than adequate; it must be seamless and almost magical!”

Rhonda Moses is director of technology for Northampton County Schools and a former science teacher for 22 years. In the early 1990s, she recalls that each school in the district had a single dial-up Internet connection.

“Technology in the classroom has evolved in status from a rare resource to an essential tool in the past decade,” said Moses. “Northampton schools have been an NCREN customer for a year, and they now have reliable access to high-speed, network-enable services. Uses of the network are becoming pervasive in education in Northampton schools for teachers and students.”

This year, MCNC welcomed North Carolina’s K-12 public school districts to the existing NCREN community. As a result of substantial community growth and the addition of the Local Education Agencies (LEA) to the NCREN network in 2008, MCNC had a much larger contingent of K-12 representatives attend their Community Day event near the end of last year.

MCNC annually hosts NCREN Community Day for its users and constituents to gain updates on programs and initiatives, hear from leaders in the community, and share applications, best practices, successes and ideas experienced by peers through the use of NCREN and its related services.

Started in the late 1990s, the first NCREN Community Day focused primarily on updates to projects and initiatives. Today, the annual gathering has evolved to a full-day event, showcasing community networking activities and panel discussions.