Category Archives: Alumni News

NC-NNSTOY Fall Meeting Pix

Current and Former North Carolina Teachers of the Year Meet in Greenville

On Saturday, November 14th, thirteen current and former state and regional North Carolina Teachers of the Year met at the College of Education at East Carolina University to discuss teacher leadership, development, and recruitment at the quarterly meeting of the newly founded North Carolina chapter of the National Network of State Teachers of the Year (NC-NNSTOY). The NC-NNSTOY chapter is a service organization that was chartered in 2014-2015 and is spending this year planning activities to promote education as a profession across North Carolina. The purpose of the organization is to “advance the teaching profession and advocate for public education to ensure the best educational opportunities for all North Carolina students.” The group is currently working its platform for encouraging more individuals to consider teaching as a profession as well as avenues for supporting current educational professionals.

As a part of the members visit to Greenville, the current N.C. Teacher of the Year team engaged with 5th grade students in Jami Dickerson’s classroom at Eastern Elementary as well as visited Pactolus Elementary where they were hosted by Steve Lassiter, the current North Carolina Principal of the Year.

The NC-NNSTOY chapter looks forward to growing its membership and to taking a leading role in shaping educational policy, advocating for education, as well as sharing professional expertise within the field of education. For more information about the National Network of State Teachers of the Year, visit this website:

In attendance were teacher leaders from across the state including:

  • Diana Beasley, 2006-2007 North Carolina Teacher of the Year
  • *James Bell, 2007-2008 North Carolina Teacher of the Year
  • Jennifer Bell, 2010-2011 North Carolina Teacher of the Year
  • *Laura Bilbro-Berry, 2000-2001 North Carolina Teacher of the Year
  • *Jami Dickerson, 2015-2016 Region 1 Teacher of the Year
  • Allison Ormond, 2003-2004 North Carolina Teacher of the Year
  • Ruth Ann Parker, 2008-2009 Region 2 Teacher of the Year
  • Malinda Pennington, 2012-2013 Region 3 Teacher of the Year
  • Cindi Rigsbee, 2008-2009 North Carolina Teacher of the Year
  • Sonya Rinehart, 2008-2009 Region 1 Teacher of the Year
  • Mariel Barker Sellers, 2015-2016 Region 4 Teacher of the Year
  • Keana Triplett, 2015-2016 North Carolina Teacher of the Year
  • Jennifer Whitley, 2015-2016 Region 6 Teacher of the Year

*ECU College of Education Alumni

Michelle Casey

NC NTSP Coach Profile: Michelle Casey, ECU Region

Michelle Casey is an Instructional Coach with the North Carolina New Teacher Support Program (NC NTSP), serving the East Carolina University (ECU) Region.  Michelle earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in special education from ECU, and considers it an honor to represent such an exemplary university through NC NTSP.

Michelle has 24 years of experience at elementary and middle school levels, serving as an exceptional children’s teacher and administrator. Her work the NC NTSP is focused in the Lenoir County and Pamlico County Public School Systems, that are part of ECU’s Latham Clinical Schools Network.

“The feedback and assistance I have received from Michelle Casey, through NC NTSP, has been extremely beneficial in helping me get through some of the growing pains of first year teaching,” said first year teacher Matthew Henderson. Henderson teaches sixth grade science at E.B. Frink Middle School in Lenoir County.

Kaitlyn Fussell, a first year sixth grade math teacher at E.B. Frink in Lenoir County Schools agreed. “I have really appreciated Michelle’s guidance,” said Fussell.

Michelle is a currently pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership. Her dissertation research focuses on sustaining novice teachers who teach in high-need educational communities beyond the first five years of teaching in the southeastern region of North Carolina. This focus transpired from serving as an Instructional Coach in high-need educational communities and witnessing the dedication of teachers to sustain their career.  She is honored to serve novice teachers in Lenoir County.

For more information about the North Carolina New Teacher Support Program go to

Pictured above: First year teachers, Kaitlyn Fussell and Matthew Henderson, work with NC NTSP Instructional Coach Michelle Casey at E.B Frink Middle School in Lenoir County. From left to right: Casey; Fussell and Henderson.


Dr. Bill Sugar and Alumnus Rob Moore Co-Author Article

Dr. Bill Sugar and MS Instructional Technology alumnus Rob Moore co-authored an article, “Documenting Current Instructional Design Practices: Towards a Typology of Instructional Designer Activities, Roles, and Collaboration,” which was published in the November 2015 Journal of Applied Instructional Design.
The overall goal of Sugar and Moore’s (2015) study was to conduct a yearlong inquiry into an instructional designer’s activities and interactions with his clients. Exclusive focus of this study was on an instructional designer who worked at a large public university in the southeastern region of the United States. Documented in an instructional design activities log, this study analyzed 115 distinct activities that this instructional designer performed.

Click on the following link to read the full article:


College of Education Graduate Recognition Ceremony – December 19, 2015

The College of Education Graduate Recognition Ceremony is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 19, 2015 in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum. The faculty and staff of the College of Education are pleased to present a special Graduate Recognition Ceremony (GRC) for our graduates. The ceremony will feature individual recognition of College of Education students receiving degrees. Friends and families of the graduates are cordially invited to attend. It is not necessary for graduates or guests to RSVP for this event. Tickets are not required to attend the ceremony.

For University Commencement Ceremony details and information about the ECU Commencement Weekend, please visit

Montague Franklin with Jennifer Stalls

Education Graduate Leads Middle Schoolers in Conducting Nature Research

Jamaya Heath, Precious Wallace

(L to R): Jamaya Heath, Precious Wallace

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

Eighth-graders at C.M. Eppes Middle School hope to find out if a backyard weed actually contains some beneficial ingredients.

Their teacher, Jennifer Stalls, an East Carolina University alumna and graduate student in the College of Education, brought the real-world research question to her science classes as a participant in the Kenan Fellows Program for Curriculum and Leadership Development.

Frank Marr, Luke Daigle

(L to R): Frank Marr, Luke Daigle

Stalls is one of 42 educators from across North Carolina who completed a five-week summer research experience and two weeks of professional development as part of the annual program.

Stalls worked in the genomics and microbiology lab at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences with mentor Dr. Julia Stevens, who is studying the symbiotic relationship between invasive plants and bacteria in nitrogen fixing. The process is needed to convert gaseous nitrogen into forms that can be used by living organisms.

Stalls created a curriculum for her students to contribute to Stevens’ research by studying regional invasive species that could potentially replenish bacteria in crop fields.

Among the discoveries students are making is the notion that they like science.

Jason Harrell, Landen Congleton, Chad Langley

(L to R): Jason Harrell, Landen Congleton, Chad Langley

“I like that you can make so many things, so many discoveries with science. I like the medicine part of science,” said student Virginia Rahilly.

Stalls is one of six ECU alumni in the 2015-16 class of Kenan Fellows. Others and the schools where they teach are: Christopher Clark ’13, Chicod School in Pitt County; Taylar Flythe ’12, Ligon Magnet Middle School in Wake County; Denise Humphries ’93, Chinquapin Elementary School in Duplin County; Amy Kennedy ’07, Beulaville Elementary School in Duplin County; Julianna Martinez-Schultz ’10, Moore Square Magnet Middle School in Wake County.

Chloe Manning-Moore, Juliana Chaires

(L to R): Chloe Manning-Moore, Juliana Chaires

The Kenan Fellows Program was established in 2000 as the signature K-12 STEM education initiative of the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology & Science at N.C. State University.

Kenan Fellows are given opportunities for networking, professional growth and leadership development. For more information, visit

For the full article, please visit the ECU News Services Article Backyard Botantists

Jami Dickerson and Ann Bullock

ECU Graduate Presents at the NC New Teacher Support Eastern Institute for Beginning Teachers

Ms. Jami Dickerson, the 2014 Northeast North Carolina Teacher of the Year and an East Carolina University graduate was the keynote address for the NC New Teacher Support Program’s Institute held at NC State. Ms. Dickerson spoke about using brain-based principles to keep students active and involved in the classroom. Her use of active movements and music were great strategies to model for the beginning teachers in attendance.

Ron Clark and The North Carolina New Teacher Support Program, ECU Regional Office staff

NC New Teacher Support Project Coaches attend Ron Clark’s Presentation in Pamlico County

Ron Clark, founder of The Ron Clark Academy and ECU graduate, spoke this morning to the teachers and administrators of Pamlico County Schools. The North Carolina New Teacher Support Program, ECU Regional Office staff attended the event and enjoyed the inspiring presentation by Mr. Clark.

Clark was a Teaching Fellow at ECU and graduated in Elementary Education in 1994. In 2000, he was named Disney’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year. In 2007, Clark opened the academy in Atlanta, GA. Clark says since 2007, “We have challenged, motivated, disciplined, and inspired these students, and we have grown to love them for their amazing gifts and unique abilities. We truly believe that we have future world leaders at our school, and we are honored to teach them each and every day.”




PIRATES Educators Work to Improve K-6 Science Education

GREENVILLE, N.C. (10/15/15) — On Saturday, October 10th fifteen College of Education alumni returned to East Carolina University to attend a workshop, “Systemic Science. It’s Elementary!” These teachers were among the first graduates of the newly developed Elementary Science Concentration at East Carolina University that focuses on the scientific content and knowledge needed for teaching science to K-6 students. Students enrolled in the concentration receive instructional strategies and specialized content knowledge within all domains of science.

The workshop was funded by a research start-up grant entitled PIRATES (Preparing and Inspiring Achieving Teaching Excellence in Science). The grant was awarded to Assistant Professor, Dr. Tammy D. Lee who spearheaded the development of this program in response to the need to improve STEM education in the early grades. PIRATES is designed to support the fifteen newly specialized science teachers over the course of three years. These beginning teachers will work with ECU science education faculty, ECU scientists, and North Carolina Museum of Natural Science staff to strengthen their knowledge and skills in systemic science education. The goal of the PIRATES program is to return these teachers to their classrooms and schools across North Carolina as elementary science education leaders.

Participant Ashley Barfield a teacher at Abbotts Creek Elementary School in Raleigh said, “The PIRATE grant will not only benefit me as a teacher but my teammates, students, and my school.”

“This grant will be a huge impact in my classroom because it will help my students to think critically about science in the real world by learning about systems,” added Amber Ellington a teacher at Falkland Elementary in Greenville.

Since the launch of the Elementary Science Concentration in the fall of 2012, enrollment has grown from seven students to over one hundred.

“This increased enrollment indicates the overwhelming interest of elementary pre-service teachers to become science teacher specialists,” said Lee.

For more information about East Carolina University’s Elementary Science Concentration or the PIRATES grant please contact Dr. Tammy D. Lee at

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PIRATES teachers participating in the “Systemic Science. It’s Elementary!” event on October 10. Pictured above from left to right: Kayla Sager, Christina Baik, Amber Ellington, Abby Wilkinson, Katherine Hart (red shirt), Ashley Barfield, Beth Wantz Kara Rouse, Danielle Alford, Rachel Fendrick Amanda Etheridge and Dail Berry. Kneeling: Bonnie Glass and Dr. Tammy Lee

Casey Robacker

ECU at The Council for Learning Disabilities

On October 2nd, 2015, ECU’s own Cassie Robacker presented at the International Council for Learning Disabilities Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. Her presentation, “Token Economy Made Easy Through ClassDojo,” was a sensation. Congratulations Cassie for a wonderful presentation. Thank you for representing ECU and the Special Education, Foundations, and Research Department.

Dail Berry

Elementary Science Alumna Receives WITN’s Teacher of the Week Award

Congratulations to Dail Berry who received this week’s Teacher of the Week award from WITN. Last May, Berry graduated from East Carolina University, receiving the Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Elementary Science. In the summer of 2014, she was an innovative camp counselor for the East Carolina Summer Science Camp. In her role as camp counselor, she created and implemented the popular camp session, Under the Sea. Ms. Berry also has experience working as a counselor for the 4H program in her hometown. After graduation, Berry decided to return home to Hyde County to start her teaching career. She is now teaching 7th and 8th grade science at Mattamuskeet Early College High School. When asked about her interest in science, she stated, “I fell in love with science while taking courses at ECU and now I want science to be my focus.”

Berry has already distinguished herself as a leader in her school by assisting with the Junior Beta club, a Co-advisor of the Envirothon team, and the Assistant Varsity Coach for the high school volleyball team. For the next three years, she will also be a part of a new research grant entitled PIRATES, Preparing and Inspiring Readiness for Achieving Teaching Excellence in Science. Dr. Tammy Lee, Assistant Professor in Science Education at ECU, noted: “The goal of this grant is to support beginning teachers that specialized in elementary science within their undergraduate education program at ECU.” The person nominating Berry for this award said, “She is an amazing teacher and the sweetest person. It’s her first year teaching and I’d love for her to get recognition for all her hard work and determination.”

Here is the link to the WITN interview with Berry: