Gov. Jim Hunt Receives Lifetime Service Award for “Smart Start” Legacy
DURHAM, N.C. – Former North Carolina Gov. Jim Hunt was honored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Frank Porter Graham (FPG) Child Development Institute with its first lifetime achievement award on May 23, for his public service to North Carolina children and families through the launch of the “Smart Start” pre-kindergarten program.
Hunt, who served from 1977 to 1985, and then again from 1993 to 2001, began working on early childhood issues when he was the lieutenant governor in the 70s. His vision for Smart Start – to have every North Carolina child start school on day one, healthy and ready to learn – has helped improve the quality of learning for children and provide parenting and health education for their families. Established in 1993, Smart Start supports North Carolina nonprofits that help prepare preschoolers to enter school healthy and ready for success.
“Governor Hunt’s vision for our state’s Smart Start initiative has helped improve the quality of early learning in all 100 counties in North Carolina,” said FPG Director Sam Odom. “His service has benefited children of all ages and all abilities.”
In his acceptance speech, Hunt addressed the importance of high-quality care for the state’s youngest children and included a retrospective of the importance of early education in North Carolina.
“North Carolina faced big challenges to make education the best it could be for all children in the state: FPG’s work on early child care and education is crucial to our success,” said Hunt. “But it, and the state, can’t rest now because they have to figure out how to reach more children living in poverty, help young immigrants gain the education they need to participate in their communities and the workforce, and aid the families of young mothers and fathers who may not know what to do.”
During Hunt’s terms as governor, he also created the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, chaired the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, and worked with former FPG director Jim Gallagher and others to establish the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics. He established a reading program in primary schools and put a full-time teaching assistant in every public school classroom in grades one through three.
The ceremony, which preceded a conference, marks the 50th anniversary of FPG’s long history within North Carolina and beyond to enhance the lives of children and families through interdisciplinary research, technical assistance, professional development, and implementation science. FPG generates knowledge, informs policies, and supports practices to promote positive developmental and educational outcomes for children of all backgrounds and abilities from the earliest years.
Read Gov. Hunt’s keynote address and acceptance speech at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute’s website or here.