Hampton Roads Community Foundation Blog


Turn your passion into reality. Our community foundation donors are passionate people with a common mission: inspiring philanthropy and transforming the quality of life in southeastern Virginia. Since 1950, we’ve invested over $225 million on behalf of generous people, who live, work and strive to make Hampton Roads a great community.

America to Me Close-up: Dr. Aaron Spence
By Sally Hartman / March 13, 2019

On April 2, 2019 the Hampton Roads Community Foundation will bring to Norfolk, Virginia a special screening of the new America to Me documentary. The event will be at Norfolk State University’s L. Douglas Wilder Performing Arts Center. This will be the second Understanding Hampton Roads forum sponsored by the community foundation in its quest to advance civic engagement in southeastern Virginia. The community foundation's partners for the event are NSU and its Robert C. Nusbaum Honors College with Norfolk Southern Corporation as presenting sponsor.

Following the film screening, the event will culminate with a dynamic panel discussion featuring a diverse group of Hampton Road representatives and two of the film's stars. They will explore the intersection of race, equity and education locally. We invite you to learn more about one of our panelists in this Q& A close-up:

Dr. Aaron Spence has led Virginia Beach City Public Schools as superintendent since 2014. He oversees the operation of 86 schools serving more than 67,000 students. In 2018 he was named Virginia Superintendent of the Year by the Virginia Association of School Superintendents. One hallmark of the school district he is proud of is its African-American Male Summit, which for 12 years has focused on mentoring, workshops and team building.

Spence is an advocate for public education and providing all students the best opportunities in school. He is a graduate of Green Run High School, a Virginia Beach public school, and is the father of six children in the school system. He calls leading the school system where he was educated the highlight of his career.

Q: Why is your participation on this panel important?
Equity in education has been at the heart of my work for the last 25 years. I believe through equity of access and opportunity, education can transform our communities. And as the leader of the largest school division in Hampton Roads, I feel I have a responsibility to give voice to the challenges and opportunities that exist within our system to provide an equitable, amazing educational experience for every child who comes through our doors.

Q: How important is this conversation to have?
Through this conversation I hope we build and continue the kind of meaningful dialogue, engagement, partnerships and commitments that are required to create educational systems that serve all children. I believe that we cannot overcome that which we refuse to confront, we cannot change that which we do not understand, and we cannot move forward with designing a system that benefits all children if we don’t understand the barriers that limit opportunity for some children.

Register now to join us at this special event to build understanding and inspire action that brings people together to help improve life in our region. Admission is free, but advanced registration is required.

Click here to learn more about the April 2 America to Me event.

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