For decades, one North Carolina couple has spent countless dollars and hours to improve education for children in public schools. Now, thousands of children have access to a better education thanks to James and Ann Goodnight. That is why this philanthropic couple is a 2009 UNCW Razor Walker Award winner. All it took was being a parent for James and Ann Goodnight to realize something was seriously lacking in a child's public education. “We were very disappointed in the fact the classrooms were so large that the teachers seemed to be concentrated only on keeping kids in order and there were lot of disciplinary issues,” said James. That led to a discussion James and his wife had with his partner at SAS, a global software company. “Why don't we build our own school, a middle school, high school,” he asked. “We can really experiment and see the effect of smaller class sizes and using more technology in the schools.” That is how Cary Academy got started in 1995. But building a new school was not enough. The Goodnights also developed curriculum pathways at SAS, an online resource that provides teachers with more than 15,000 different items they can use and teach to their classes, for free. “Right now, competitively, in this global, knowledge based economy that we are, the country as a whole is at risk to maintain quality of life and success of children so I think it is critical we make education a priority,” said Ann. The Goodnights helped push through a construction bond in Wake County to fund 17 new schools and renovate more than a dozen others. They also supplied students at several high schools with their own computers. The Goodnights hope to see a day when technology is brought into every classroom, since children today are completely wired. “When they go to school, they have to leave all that behind and it is just, they're bored. They're not accustomed to sitting at a classroom watching a teacher at a blackboard all day,” James said. “The only way to really get these kids involved is to give them the tools that they're used to having around them all the time.” As to why they began this philanthropic mission, “I think it's our civic, moral responsibility as citizens and I believe it is in our best economic interest to stay involved,” said Ann. We will have four other Razor Walker Award winners to introduce to you over the next few days. All of this year's Razor Walker Award recipients will be honored at a banquet Monday night at UNCW.
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