Relevance Rediscovered

At 49, Greg Michie gave it all up. His tenure-track position. His flexible schedule. His unhurried lunch hour. (His lunch hour, period.) In 2012, as a citywide teacher’s strike loomed, Michie left the relative comforts of higher education. He returned to the undervalued but indispensable work of public school teaching in America.

Compassion as an Action Verb

"How do we institutionalize compassion? If we are all products of our systems, how do we make these systems compassionate? Imagine police departments whose main focus is caring for the community, is compassion. What if, from the very beginning, compassion is the anchor for all our social institutions?"

The Student Body Shop 

What you see, smell and hear here is shop class and home economics refurbished for the digital age. Hundreds of willing participants know this as BeAM, or “be a maker,” UNC’s answer to the worldwide makerspace movement — the collaborative culture of making physical objects using both digital and traditional tools. Now entering its fourth year, BeAM makerspaces are leading the Carolina community and its students through a re-emergence of know-how, in and out of the classroom.

The Art of Perseverance

Students are incredulous when Walters proffers this deal. “You’re going to give me more time and a higher grade? What’s the catch?” But that’s how making and inventing works in the real world, he said. Like pumping gas in a Vermont winter, the first decisions you make often are not your best.

Step Into Those Shoes

They elbow one another for space in his mind: young black teenagers and their worried mothers, old white supremacists and their nervous wives, skeptical lawyers, gravelly voiced journalists and a slave who mailed himself to freedom inside a box.

Mike Wiley not only plays them all on stage — often more than two dozen characters in a single performance, with no costume changes and few props — the documentary theater actor and playwright rehearses himself to sleep at night with their dialogue, their humanity and inhumanity, strumming through his head.

Don’t Lecture Me

Kelly Hogan’s new normal began one day in 2010 when Bob Henshaw, an instructional consultant at UNC’s Center for Faculty Excellence, placed a troubling collection of statistics on her desk. They showed that underrepresented students — blacks and first-generation college students — were disproportionately scoring Ds and Fs in her classes.

The Missionary

“Isn’t this a great view?” Shirley Ort asks in her elegant, lilting voice of the scene outside her Pettigrew Hall window. Ort’s office is modest, but the world beyond it is indeed spectacular, an October burst of yellow and orange across the expanse of McCorkle Place, with ruddy brick walkways crisscrossing the fading summer grass, all paths paved with opportunity. This view was unthinkable to Ort at 17, a world of higher consciousness closed to a girl from an impoverished rural family.

The Man Who Knows Too Much

Dan Ariely spent his first year of college in a hospital burn unit inside a tight, brown elastic suit that covered everything but his eyes, ears and mouth — the better to protect the tissue still healing underneath. There, a universe apart from all the behaviors he used to know, he began to watch others as though he were an immigrant in a foreign land — all these strange and wondrous ways that people lived their lives and made their decisions.

Soul Catcher

This skittish child, whose inclination is to blend into the wallpaper, one day will become one of the most remarkable public school teachers not just in his state, but in the country; a man who will connect with students on levels so bottomless and with such skill that the most intimidating children of all — teenagers — will crowd into a room in which there are more heartbeats than chairs and sit upon a stack of books just to hear him talk.