Category Archives: Elementary and Middle Grades Education (ELMID)

News from the Elementary Education and Middle Grades Education Department


Dennis and Barbara Pelletier Endow Education Scholarship

Dennis and Barbara Pelletier have been in eastern North Carolina for nine years, but they’ve been supporters of education their whole lives. Earlier this year, they decided to start an endowment for a scholarship in the College of Education at East Carolina University that will benefit local students who want to become teachers.

The Pelletiers came to North Carolina after retiring from lifelong careers in education in Maryland. Dennis began his career in the community college system and then worked for 26 years at the University of Baltimore, retiring as the vice president for student affairs and enrollment management. Barbara worked for many years as a second-grade teacher in Howard County.

When it came time to retire, they looked at five states before deciding on North Carolina and then searched all over the state before settling in Chocowinity, 30 minutes east of Greenville.

“We wanted university culture, continuing education opportunities and, of course, the medical school was a big draw,” Dennis said.

“At the time, both of our children were living in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.,” said Barbara. “Now our son is in Charleston, and our daughter is in Richmond. It’s great to be so close to family while enjoying the community here. It’s remarkable, and we’re very fortunate how everything worked out.”

The Pelletiers wanted to stay active during retirement, so they looked to ECU for opportunities.

“One of the things we saw that was needed at ECU was more options for continuing education,” Dennis said.

ECU had offered free classes for seniors before, but they were discontinued during budget cuts. So, Dennis helped start the Lifelong Learning Program at ECU. The Lifelong Learning Program provides affordable courses, seminars and trips to local adults 50 and older so they can continue to enjoy learning without tests or grades. Dennis served on the program’s board for three years.

Then he got an email saying the College of Education was looking for volunteers to evaluate scholarship applications.

“That was a natural fit for me,” Dennis said. “That was what started the idea to fund a scholarship.”

The first scholarship from the Dennis and Barbara Pelletier Teacher Education Scholarship Fund will be awarded in the 2016-2017 school year, thanks to an additional contribution from the Pelletiers while the original endowment grows. The scholarship will go to an upperclassman first-generation college student in financial need from North Carolina who wants to stay and teach in the state.

“We were able to customize it to how we wanted to help,” Dennis said.

The Pelletiers were the first in their families to graduate from college. Originally from New York, they met at State University of New York at Oneonta. Like ECU, Oneonta started as a state normal school for teachers.

“We have an appreciation for what our education gave us. We’re both products of public education,” Dennis said.

“We know how tough it is to be a public school teacher,” Barbara said. “We like the idea of helping someone get started. It’s so important to have good teachers. If we can help them get ready for their careers, we can also help so many children that way.”

Though they did not attend ECU, the Pelletiers have enjoyed supporting and getting involved with the university. Many of their neighbors in Chocowinity are also involved with ECU.

“It’s important for the community to support the university,” Dennis said. “The community gains so much from the university, it’s only fair to give back.”

I would recommend getting involved with the university,” Barbara said. “It helps current students and enriches life here. It’s a win-win for everyone.”

—Jackie Drake
Drake, J.  (2016, Winter). Dennis and Barbara Pelletier Endow Education Scholarship. EAST, the Magazine of East Carolina University, page 46. Retrieved from

Social media activity SECU PE meeting Fall 2015

“Growing Our Own!” – Eastern North Carolina Community Colleges, School Systems and East Carolina University Collaborate to Fill Classrooms in the East

left-Rich Hudson - right- Grant HayesOn December 2, 2015, sixty-six community college and school system leaders gathered with East Carolina University faculty at the East Carolina Heart Institute in Greenville to focus on the collaborative efforts in preparing educators for the region through State Employees’ Credit Union Partnership East (SECU PE).   The partnership involves a network of 20 community college partners and 41 school system partners within the Latham Clinical Schools Network with the common goal of providing access to teacher education degrees “close to home.”

Dr. Grant Hayes, dean of the College of Education, brought greetings to the group of community college presidents, vice presidents, and liaisons as well as superintendents, assistant superintendents, and human resource directors of eastern North Carolina public school systems.

“There is a growing need to address teacher shortages in rural areas within the region and ECU is committed to offering innovative ways to provide convenient and affordable access to education degrees for students within their home communities,” said Dr. Hayes.

Hayes also recognized the contribution of the State Employees’ Credit Union Foundation who awarded ECU a multi-million dollar gift for student scholarships that are distributed during the SECU PE students’ senior year. Hayes noted that the scholarship funds from the SECU Foundation are crucial for students during their clinical internship which requires these working adults to quit their jobs to complete clinical field work. Mr. Rich Hudson, the Greenville manager of the State Employees’ Credit Union, was present at the event representing the SECU Foundation. He thanked those in attendance for their efforts in producing educators who later become state employees.

A status update regarding the impact of SECU Partnership East was shared with participants. Since its inception in 2002, SECU Partnership East has prepared 674 teachers. 91% of those licensed and teaching are educating children within eastern North Carolina. These graduates have gone on to serve students well in their districts, have become school level Teachers of the Year, and have demonstrated innovation and leadership. Through this well-established partnership, SECU PE positively impacts families in our region to include those of our graduates and those of the students they teach.

A snapshot of the current students enrolled was also provided to the partners in attendance. SECU Partnership East has 227 students currently enrolled with applications being sought for 2016 for degrees in elementary education, special education and middle grades education. Guests at the event also engaged in a social media activity to learn about recent marketing efforts by faculty within SECU Partnership East. Ideas for capitalizing on the use of social media were also shared by community college and school system partners.

SECU Partnership East supports East Carolina University’s mission to engage in regional transformation through providing access to teacher education degrees for students who otherwise could not attend college. Through the collaborative efforts of community colleges, schools systems, and ECU, students in the partnership are recruited from their home communities, learn in those home communities, and upon graduation, go on to positively impact the lives of children in the East.

For information about SECU Partnership East, please visit our website at or contact Dr. Laura Bilbro-Berry at 252-328-1123 or

COE Seal - Feature Image

NC New Teacher Support Coaches Provide Professional Development

Michelle Casey and April Shackleford provided professional development to the staff of the Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Community Center in November. The two North Carolina New Teacher Support Program coaches created an interactive workshop on classroom management for elementary students. The center staff was quite pleased with the best practices presented. The Lucille M. Gorham Intergenerational Center provides many services for the community, including an after school program for elementary and middle grades students.

Captain Arrrgh Headshot

From the TRC: Reluctant Readers

It’s the third Thursday of the month and a new edition of From the TRC is published to highlight another service or resource Joyner Library’s Teaching Resources Center (TRC) has to support the College of Education’s faculty and students. Today we’ll cover one of our newest bibliographies, Reluctant Readers.

The TRC has created, and constantly updates, an extensive list of bibliographies and guides available to help students, faculty and staff easily navigate our collections. Print copies for select topics are available in the TRC while our entire catalog of bibliographies and guides are available on the TRC’s website. The reluctant readers bibliography is currently only available online, and is based on titles from the Young Adult Library Association’s (YALSA) Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers List.

But, we need to define who a reluctant reader. The umbrella term, reluctant reader, is used to describe a few different groups of students. Reluctant readers generally fall into one of three categories, those who can’t, don’t or won’t read. Students may not read because they lack the literacy and comprehension skills needed to do so which can lead to self-doubt and a fear of their secret being “found out.” The latter two categories encompass students able to read, but either dislike reading itself or their personal interests lead them to other activities they find more attractive.

So, what to do? A simple Internet search will overwhelm you. There is no shortage of parenting websites, non-profit and for-profit companies willing to share tips, tricks, and books. The Lexile Framework for Reading also offers tips and links to additional resources.

One theme you will find over and over again as you sift through all these resources is student choice. Allow your reluctant readers to choose reading material (e.g., comic book, graphic novel, popular magazine, etc.) about topics they are interested in. Of course, if a teacher knows their students’ interests, and happens to know a few books that may pique their interest, it’s a win-win. That’s why the TRC created our bibliography for reluctant readers.

Joyner Library’s subscription to Novelist Plus will also come in handy at times like this. Novelist Plus allows users to search for “Title Read-alikes” and “Author Read-alikes”. For example, if a student liked Kwame Alexander’s novel, The Crossover” A Basketball Novel, you can use that feature to find a list of similar reads:

Figure 1: The Crossover: A Basketball Novel’s entry in Novelist Plus. Read-alikes are found just above the “Find It!” button.

Figure 1: The Crossover: A Basketball Novel’s entry in Novelist Plus. Read-alikes are found just above the “Find It!” button.

Figure 2: Clicking on the “Title Read-alikes” will show a list of novels with similar themes.

Figure 2: Clicking on the “Title Read-alikes” will show a list of novels with similar themes.

Why is it important to become familiar with Novelist Plus? All K-12 educators in North Carolina have free access to either Novelist K-8 or Novelist Plus through NC WiseOwlJoyner Library’s subscription to Novelist Plus is the only way pre-service teachers can access this resource until you have your own classroom.

We hope to hear from you soon!

Until next time…Dan Z. in the TRC

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.


Apply Now for ECU’s Online Teacher Education Partnership

Do you want to be a part of a profession that makes all others possible?

Do you want to make a difference?

Do you want a career that is meaningful, challenging, and creative?

Are you looking for a degree program that will fit your busy lifestyle?

If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then you should become a teacher through State Employees’ Credit Union Partnership East!

East Carolina University offers four-year teaching degrees through the  State Employees’ Credit Union Partnership East (SECU PE).  Students take the first two years of specific college transfer courses at any NC Community College and enter ECU as juniors to complete – a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, Special Education – General Curriculum, or Middle Grades Education.  The online option for Middle Grades Education includes concentrations in language arts and social studies.    All SECU Partnership East coursework is offered through online instruction with classroom learning experiences in your local schools.  Students participate in a full-time internship at the culmination of the degree coursework.

Applications for 2016 cohorts are now open.  Test scores from the Praxis Core for Educators, prerequisite coursework, an interview, and a minimum GPA are required for admission to SECU PE.  Applicants must meet minimum transfer admission requirements to East Carolina University to be eligible to participate.

Degree Program Beginning Semester Application Deadline
Elementary Education (Full-time) Summer January 15
Elementary Education (Part-time) Fall February 15
Special Education (Part-time) Summer January 15
Middle Grades Language Arts and Social Studies (Part-time) Fall February 15

Graduates from SECU PE have a high rate of employment with the majority finding jobs right in their home counties. The convenience of online course delivery, field work close to home, and an opportunity to shape future generations are all reasons YOU should consider this opportunity.

For more information or to apply, contact the SECU Partnership East Coordinator for your region.  Contact information is located at


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.”