Executive Director Dr. Carla Johnson Shares Her Vision for the Friday Institute

I am pleased to have joined the NC State College of Education as an associate dean, professor and executive director of the William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. Since the inception of the Friday Institute more than a decade ago, the central focus of the work has been to support the transition to digital-age teaching and learning.

The Friday Institute has benefited from great leadership and partnerships across the years and has established a long-standing, respected reputation in the education community. Incredible work has been conducted across the state of North Carolina, as well as beyond its borders. We are primed to enter the next phase of our work, the Friday Institute version 3.0.

Inspire, Innovate, Educate. These are the words that have guided our path to date and will continue to be the beacon that steers our course into the future. The Friday Institute engages researchers, K-12 educators, industry and community partners, as well as policymakers, in addressing the most pressing challenges of education. A few examples of our current projects include:

  • North Carolina’s Digital Learning Initiative: We’re guiding the long-term strategy that sets directions and priorities, supports innovation, and provides research to enable educators and students to benefit from digital-age teaching and learning.
  • Computer Science for All Initiative: Bridging research, practice and policy, the Friday Institute is leading the way to create opportunities for students through computer science education
  • STEM Cyberlearning: Our teams are developing and identifying tools and technologies in STEM instructional settings for teachers and students, with a focus on developing the next generation of STEM workers and learners.
  • Evaluation of North Carolina’s Read to Achieve Initiative: We evaluated the academic impacts of the Read to Achieve program and made recommendations for improving outcomes.

However, innovation by nature is a state of constant change. I believe our next step is to leverage our partnerships and the strong state infrastructure that we have built collaboratively to continue our impact in North Carolina. Through years of work in school connectivity, professional learning, using data to inform practice, and best-practice in pedagogy and leadership, we have built a solid foundation to enable innovation-age teaching and learning in the state that we can carry forward.

I will also work with our faculty, staff and students to grow our work nationally. It is important that we share the interventions, curriculum, research, programming and strategy we produce on a broader scale. The Friday Institute will have a concerted focus on narrowing achievement gaps and growing equitable and innovative educational opportunities for all students.

The Friday Institute is poised for the innovation age, and we will provide support for schools across our state and beyond to harness the power of their technology-rich learning environments and share research on best-practice in education to enable students, teachers and leaders to engage in developing innovative solutions that have the potential to address our most persistent challenges.

I look forward to continuing the great work of the Friday Institute in collaboration with our existing partners and new collaborators.