Hancock named new Director of National Center for Homeless Education
When George Hancock was named the new director of the National Center for Homeless Education (NCHE) on July 1st, teachers, administrators, and students across the nation gained an important ally in the effort to provide quality education to homeless and transitory youth. As someone who has worked at nearly every level and position available in the state education system (including teacher, principal, and state coordinator), Hancock is eager to preserve and expand upon the legacy of Dr. Diana Bowman, the retiring founding director of NCHE.
Over one million American children experience homelessness each year, and they face a unique set of problems when it comes to education. Homeless students must often leave their friends, teachers, and school districts behind at a moment’s notice. The constant interruptions and lack of consistent enrollment characterizing these students’ academic lives have a severe impact on the quality of their education. That’s where NCHE comes in.
Funded by the US Department of Education and housed within the UNCG SERVE Center, NCHE provides information to schools and universities all over the country on how to identify homeless students, increase enrollment, and keep students from falling behind in their classes. The organization implements the McKinney-Vento Act, which guarantees homeless students enrollment in school regardless of available documentation or residential situation. To achieve this national goal, the NCHE director must have intimate knowledge of how school systems work at every level.
Hancock began his career in the North Carolina public school system as a teacher, instructing middle schoolers in language arts and social studies. “I absolutely loved it,” he says, “and anticipated at that point that that would be my career.” Fortunately for North Carolina’s students, Hancock didn’t stop there.
He became an administrator within Wake County and eventually worked his way to principal of a Title I school. “It was not just another job. One of the things that I first started doing when I was a teacher was working with kids in inner city Raleigh, and so from the beginning I had this sort of connection with that [disadvantaged] population.”
While Hancock later left this position to become the state coordinator for Neglected and Delinquent programs, he considers the experience that he gained there to be invaluable.
“Having been a teacher and a principal, that is the perspective that I try to bring to each of my roles…to keep in mind that we have teachers who are being challenged incredibly in the classroom every day. We’ve got principals that are being challenged…from all angles; from their communities and from parents and from [the] district and state and even at the federal level, there are these huge challenges,” he says.
“What I hope we can do is provide a service to those people who are closest to the student that we are trying to serve, so that we can simplify things for them.”
NCHE has been successful in achieving that goal by both implementing new programs and receiving and analyzing feedback through a network of state coordinators and local homeless education liaisons in each school district.. The Center now enters the second year of its fourth consecutive contract with the Department of Education – almost two decades of support for homeless youth.
“Why would you not want to do this work?” Hancock muses. “Its supporting some of the neediest families and youth in the United States.”
Article author Mary McLean is a Media and Communication Intern with the UNCG Office of Research and Economic Development. She researches and writes articles about the on and off campus impacts of UNCG research. Mary is a senior at UNCG, majoring in English and minoring in Media Studies. Her interest in journalism and communication led her to her current position.