Category Archives: Alumni News

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MLS Students at ECU Collect over 5,800 Books for the Needy

The end of each year is a time for many traditions, from caroling to trimming the tree to making a gingerbread house to pausing to give thanks, and the East Carolina University Master of Library Science program has developed and added its own tradition to the mix by annually completing a Holiday Book Drive. For ten years, the ECU American Library Association (ALA) Student Chapter has completed a book drive to help put over 25,000 books in the hands of willing but needy readers throughout North Carolina. The ECU MLS students take advantage of the fact they study in a Distance Education program and spread the good cheer of charitable literacy throughout several communities in the region.

Over 5,800 books were collected and donated to non-profit organizations, church programs for struggling families, schools, shelters, daycares, and food pantries.

This December, the ECU MLS program saw its faculty, current students, and alumni to work jointly in efforts to complete these collections. Many of the MLS students and alumni used the Annual Book Drive as an opportunity to include students in collection and donation, helping incorporate character education into school programs.

Kevin Vickers, an ECU alumnus and the librarian of Sun Valley Elementary in Monroe, NC, coordinated with a fourth grade teacher in his school to collect over 300 books and donate them to Turning Point of Union County, a shelter for victims of domestic abuse. Ever aware of the importance of technology and social media, Mr. Vickers posted information about the drive on his school’s Facebook site and watched the donations pour in. Parents and students asked if they could turn in books for all ages, and Vickers enthusiastically agreed. He excitedly reported that plenty of children and adult women were finding their reading needs met through the collection, and, asking “how cool is that?,” he was ecstatic to find several of the donations were in Spanish.

Kimberly Marone, the media coordinator of Holly Tree Elementary in Wilmington, NC, gathered over 125 titles as she and her students donated books to a local church program that provides services to families facing hardships. These books provide welcome relief and diversions in troubling times, as the gift of literacy and the opportunity for continued reading is an ever-welcome present.

Vanessa Taylor, a librarian currently completing her MLS through ECU, oversaw a donation project run by a Boy Scout throughout Onslow County. While her school (Dixon Elementary) donated over 200 books, the entire drive throughout the county brought in 4,700 total volumes. The young man clearly earned his merit badge by creating and maintaining fourteen collection sites around Jacksonville and Sneads Ferry and donating them to the Onslow County Partnership for Children. As Ms. Taylor said, his work was “quite amazing.”

Knowing that one of the strongest ways to support and increase literacy is within the community, with students helping students, Mary Tobin and her colleagues and students at Topsail Middle School collected 300 “gently used books” to donate to their local elementary schools. This middle school project proved and supported the idea that it takes a village, as older students gave the gift of reading to younger ones.

Hugh Davis, an MLS student in ECU’s program and an English teacher at CS Brown High School in Winton, NC, turned to his school’s Literary and Beta Clubs to complete the drive. Though CS Brown is a small school, with only 52 students this year, it collected 400 books and donated them to the Baptist Children’s Home. This shelter was selected by the students, who felt empowered through the process. Davis, the ECU ALA Chapter President, said that working alongside the students made the process even more meaningful, and he was thrilled to see the students take the initiative to research an appropriate donation site and to organize and coordinate their community’s efforts.

Not to be outdone or left out, the ECU MLS faculty continued their tradition of contributing to the Annual Book Drive by collecting and donating 19 books the Little Willie Center in Greenville, NC.

While many traditions abound at this time of year, one of the most rewarding is definitely the ECU MLS program’s Annual Book Drive. The ALA Chapter counts this year as a success and hopes to have as much participation next year.

Hugh Davis, President
ECU American Library Association Student Chapter

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LEED alumna, LaTonya Afolayan, named Associate Vice President for Advancement at Lamar University

ECU alumna LaTanya Afolayan has joined the advancement division at Lamar University as associate vice president for university advancement after a national search.

“We are very pleased to have LaTanya at Lamar University,” said Juan Zabala, vice president for university advancement. “Her fund raising and donor relations experience complements our staff well. She will be a tremendous asset to our role of making LU an ever stronger university through philanthropy.”

The 15-year career development professional comes to LU from Appalachian State University in North Carolina where she served as major gifts officer and director of development since 2011.

Previously, Afolayan served as vice chancellor of institutional advancement at North Carolina Central University from 2009 to 2010. There she managed the day-to-day operations of the alumni relations, annual fund, major gifts, and foundation and stewardship staff.

Her career also includes service as the first director of major and planned gifts at Elizabeth City State University, 2002-2005, as associate vice chancellor, 2005-2008, then vice chancellor, 2008-2009.

She began her advancement career at Emory University in Atlanta where she served as program associate, assistant director of corporate relations, 1994-1998.

Afolayan served as news director and senior producer for WPRL-FM, Alcorn State University in Lorman, Miss., 1988-1992.  She was a reporter, producer and instructor for KOMU-TB, Columbia, Mo., 1986-1987.

She holds a Ed.D., from East Carolina University, Greenville, N.C., a M.A., from the University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo., and a bachelor’s from Indiana State University, Terre Haute, Ind.

She holds certification in fundraising management and is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.


(January 2016). Afolayan joins LU advancement staff
, Beaumont Business Journal. Retrieved from http://beaumontbusinessjournal.com/article/higher-education/afolayan-joins-lu-advancement-staff

Dr. Freddie Williamson

ECU graduate named a National Superintendent of the Year Finalist

Dr. Freddie Williamson, Superintendent of Hoke County Schools and graduate of East Carolina University, has been named a finalist for the 2016 National Superintendent of the Year by AASA, The School Superintendents Association. Other finalists include Dr. Thomas Tucker from Ohio, Dr. Pam Moran from Virginia, and Dr. Steven Webb from Washington. This marks the 29th anniversary of the program, which honors school system leaders throughout the country.

Dr. Williamson has more than 30 years of service in public education, with the past nine years as superintendent of Hoke County Schools. He is known for his transformational leadership style, no-excuses philosophy and innovative approach to addressing challenges. Williamson began his journey in public education as a classroom teacher. His experiences have included school administration for more than 25 years in various capacities, including vocational education, curriculum and human resources. In the summer of 2006, he was named superintendent of Hoke County Schools. Williamson has also served in several leadership roles for organizations such as the North Carolina School Superintendents Executive Board, North Carolina Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development Board of Directors, Sandhills Regional Education Superintendents Council, FirstHealth of the Carolinas Advisory Board and Fayetteville State University Educational Leadership Advisory Board. He also serves as an adjunct professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.

Williamson graduated with his bachelor’s degree in Agriculture Education from North Carolina A&T University in 1978, master’s degree in Educational Leadership from North Carolina A&T University in 1986, education specialist degree in Educational Leadership from East Carolina University in 1995, and doctorate in Educational Leadership from Fayetteville State University in 2004.

“The four finalists for the 2016 AASA National Superintendent of the Year have demonstrated a steadfast commitment to excellence in the work they do,” said Daniel A. Domenech, executive director, AASA. “As a former superintendent, I know that the demands of a superintendent are incredibly high, which is why we look forward to honoring these outstanding superintendents as well as all of the 2016 State Superintendents of the Year at our National Conference on Education in February.”

The finalists for AASA’s 2016 National Superintendent of the Year will have an opportunity to meet the national education community during a press conference in January 2016 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The applicants were measured against the following criteria:

  • Leadership for learning – creativity in successfully meeting the needs of students in the school system.
  • Communication – strength in both personal and organizational communication.
  • Professionalism – constant improvement of administrative knowledge and skills, while providing professional development opportunities and motivation to others on the education team.
  • Community involvement – active participation in local community activities and an understanding of regional, national and international issues.
Project SEARCH copy

Sara Graves, Special Education Alumna, Highlighted on WITN for Project SEARCH

ECU Special Education alumna and graduate student, Sara Graves, was recently highlighted on WITN for her work with a new national program at Vidant Medical Center, Project SEARCH. The focus of Project SEARCH is transition and job skills training for individuals with developmental disabilities. The students participating in the program also work in three internship settings at the hospital where they apply the skills they are learning. Congratulations, Sara, for your outstanding work — and for representing ECU College of Education, Special Education so well!

Sara Graves and Project SEARCH on WITN

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: http://www.nnstoy.org/

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

Mary Beth Meeks, Shannon Jesequel and Carole Anne Briley.

COE Literacy Studies Teachers Of The Year

Congratulations to Carole Anne Briley (ECU BS in Elementary Education 2010; ECU MAEd READ 2015), Shannon Jesequel (Current ECU MAEd READ Candidate), and Mary Beth Meeks (ECU BS in Elementary Education 1992; Current ECU MAEd READ Candidate) on being named Teacher of the Year at their respective schools. Carol Anne is a kindergarten teacher in the Dos Mundos Dual Immersion Program at Belvoir Elementary School in Pitt County, Shannon Jesequel is a third grade teacher at Timber Drive Elementary School in Wake County, and Mary Beth Meeks is a fourth grade teacher at Sam Bundy Elementary School in Pitt County. The Reading Education faculty members are proud of these literacy leaders!

Pictured above: Mary Beth Meeks, Shannon Jesequel and Carole Anne Briley.

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 http://ncntsp.northcarolina.edu/

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.

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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: http://www.jaidpub.org/?page_id=1425

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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 http://www.ecu.edu/commencement.

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 www.kenanfellows.org.

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