Marry passion to professionalism and the result might very well be the new President and CEO of Communities In Schools of North Carolina, Eric Hall. “I want to put supports and interventions in place at schools so that students will not be displaced. This job gives me the chance to do work that I know is effective in keeping kids in school. It is the perfect integration of my personal and professional missions.”
Hall comes from a family of educators and is currently working on his doctorate in educational leadership. “My parents, aunts and uncles are all teachers, except for one who is a social worker. My belief in the importance of education and the need to have the community involved in the schools is homegrown.”
Newly arrived in January from a job as national director of educational services/regional director with AMIkids, Inc. in Tampa, Fla., Hall has found his transition made much easier by the team he inherited at the Communities In Schools office. “I am so amazed by the team of individuals I get to work with here. They have a long history with the organization and they live to support its mission. They make my job easy. The Board supports the organization by bringing in resources and connecting Communities In Schools to others who can help us accomplish our mission.”
It’s a team he knows he will need to rely on heavily as he and his staff consider how to best position Communities in Schools of North Carolina for the education reform taking place in the state. “We must be prepared to stay true to our mission while staying connected to the schools and the reform effort. We have the opportunity to innovate, to grow into new schools and to be more intentional about what we do in schools where we already have a presence.”
His almost two-decade record of work with AMIkids, a nonprofit organization providing intervention services to at-risk youth in juvenile justice programs and nontraditional schools in nine states, is a solid foundation for his new position. At AMIkids, he led the effort to build school programs for students who need nontraditional services, including those in the juvenile justice system. A key part of his job, as it is at Communities In Schools, was working with partnering organizations to bring in the best possible services for students. Hall believes the work he did in Florida during a time when then Governor Jeb Bush was instituting statewide reform will be valuable experience for dealing with the state reforms being enacted in North Carolina.
One of his greatest achievements at AMIkids, Inc. was collaborating with state and legislative officials to add more than $12 million a year of educational funding to juvenile justice schools. “That funding helped us to bring in educators who had more experience and education working with kids in the juvenile justice system and other nontraditional education settings, and to be more competitive with salaries. So kids were getting a better education.” In the end, that’s what matters most to Hall: ensuring that all kids can get the best education possible.