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James E. Ford

2015 North Carolina Teacher of the Year | Principal Consultant, Filling the Gap Educational Consultants, LLC

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James E. Ford is an award-winning educator and consultant on issues of equity in education. He was recently appointed by Gov. Cooper to serve as a member of the North Carolina State Board of Education, representing the Southwest Region. He is the former Program Director at the Public School Forum of North Carolina, an education think-tank and policy advocacy organization. Prior to this, he served as the 2014-15 North Carolina Teacher of the Year and the representative for 95,000 public school teachers throughout the state. For a full year, he traveled the state and country speaking before thousands of teachers, students, business leaders and policymakers about the importance of education.

While in this position, he lobbied the state legislature to help secure the first post-recession raises for teachers and was made chair of the Governor's Teacher Advisory Committee. The Governor acknowledged Ford during his 2015 State of the State address for his hard work and recognition. In Spring 2015, He, along with 54 other state teachers were invited to the White House to be honored by President Obama in the Rose Garden during Teacher Appreciation Week.

Ford taught World History at Garinger High School in Charlotte, NC starting in 2010. Ford earned a bachelor of science in mass communication from Illinois State University in 2003 and a master’s degree in teaching from Rockford University in 2009. He received his Add-On Certificate from Wingate University in 2014 and holds an NC Principals License. He is currently pursuing his PhD at UNC-Charlotte in Urban Education.

Ford was recognized as Charlotte Magazine’s 2014 Charlottean of the Year, the 2014 National Alliance of Black School Educators’ Teacher of the Year and is a Carnegie Fellow. Ford is a self-professed “equity warrior” who believes education is a human right. He writes and speaks extensively on the topics of race, class, and education equity and advocates for the most disadvantaged student populations. Most notably, an article written after the Charleston shooting about the need to address racism earned him a handwritten note of praise from Secretary Arne Duncan. He writes for Education Post, EdWeek, Charlotte Magazine, Charlotte Agenda and EducationNC.  His work has also appeared in Ebony and ASCD Educational Leadership magazine.

He is a civic leader in Charlotte, serving as the co-chair for the Leading on Opportunity Council, an effort change the systemic barriers to economic mobility in the city. He also is the Principal at Filling the Gap Educational Consultants, LLC.

Before deciding to become a teacher, Ford’s early career cemented his connection to children and youth. He worked as a truancy intervention specialist in high schools and director of a teen center that provided educational and after-school activities for youth at risk of dropping out of school. He considers his work and extension of his greater life-calling. He is an activist, writer, minister, husband and father.