Category Archives: Office of Professional Development and Student Outreach

$2.2 Million Gift to Fund Teacher Education in Rural Communities


ECU graduate Judy Oglesby took part in the Partnership East program, which helped her earn a teaching degree without having to move out of her hometown. She is pictured above with her children, 12-year-old Melanie at left and 14-year-old Trace, in front of the school where she teaches. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

The first time Judy Oglesby considered going to college, she was 36-years-old “staring divorce in the face” and trying to figure out how she would support her two children moving forward.

A simple act got her interested in teaching – her son’s kindergarten teacher noticed the skill she exhibited as a volunteer at the school. A year of encouragement led her to enroll at Halifax Community College and, two years later, at East Carolina University.

Oglesby was part of the College of Education’s Partnership East program, which allows students to complete the first two years of an education degree at one of 20 participating community colleges in eastern and central North Carolina before transferring to ECU. All ECU teacher preparation classes can then be taken online and part-time.

The aim is to provide students with access to high-quality degree programs close to home, so that they might remain in those communities to teach after graduation. And that’s what Oglesby has done – graduating in 2010 and now teaching second grade at Belmont Elementary in her hometown, Roanoke Rapids.


Oglesby said the Partnership East program was a benefit for the entire family.

“It was a saving grace,” Oglesby said of the program. “It turned things around for my family.”

A generous gift from the State Employees’ Credit Union Foundation ensures more non-traditional students like Oglesby will get that same chance. The Foundation awarded East Carolina University’s College of Education $2.28 million July 17 to continue educating aspiring teachers in rural areas.

The donation funds scholarships for Partnership East students in their senior year, during which they cannot work because they are completing full-time internships in the classroom. More than 225 students are currently enrolled at ECU through Partnership East. The $2.28 million gift will be distributed to students over the next five years.

Partnership East students earn a bachelor of science in elementary education, middle grades education or special education. More than 75 percent of program graduates are teaching in North Carolina and 94 percent of those are in eastern North Carolina.

“This serves the dire need we have for teachers in poor, eastern rural communities,” said ECU Provost Dr. Marilyn Sheerer, who is also a member of the SECU Foundation board. “It’s really exciting that the State Employees’ Credit Union is willing to do this.”


Oglesby graduated from ECU in 2010 and now teaches second grade at Belmont Elementary School in her hometown of Roanoke Rapids.

Sheerer recused herself from the foundation’s Partnership East vote, but was on hand to answer last-minute questions. Kendra Alexander, major gifts officer for the College of Education, also played a key role in connecting the university and the foundation.

“State Employees’ Credit Union has a huge footprint in eastern North Carolina, and serving people in that area has always been an aim,” said Mark Twisdale, executive director of the Foundation. “It is difficult to find a project that spreads a net as wide in that area as Partnership East. This connects us with the community college system, public schools and East Carolina University.

“It’s not just sending money,” he added, “but giving people an opportunity they wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

Oglesby said it’s given her children new opportunities, too. They don’t doubt that they’ll go to college because they watched her do it, she said.

“We are all so indebted to the State Employees’ Credit Union for its support of our Partnership East Pipeline Teacher Preparation Program,” agreed Dr. Linda Patriarca, dean of the College of Education. “The gift helps us to fulfill our mission and commitment to prepare high quality teachers for the region – especially for those rural communities.”

The SECU Foundation promotes local and community development by primarily funding high impact projects in the areas of housing, education, health care and human services.

For more information about Partnership East, contact program coordinator Laura Bilbro-Berry at 252-328-1123 or or visit

By Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services


Wells Fargo supports ECU Partnership East program

Wells Fargo has given $75,000 to East Carolina University’s College of Education to support the Wells Fargo Partnership East Program. The gift will support 47 students and provide five stipends of $750 based on a competitive application process.

Partnership East works with community colleges and public schools in eastern North Carolina with a focus on preparing well-trained professional teachers. The program has graduated 343 students, with 78 percent teaching in North Carolina.

Since 2002, Wells Fargo (and formerly known Wachovia Foundation) has given the College of Education $1,525,000 in support.

For more information about the Wells Fargo Partnership East program, contact Laura Bilbro-Berry, assistant director of Teacher Education and lead coordinator for the Wells Fargo Partnership East program, at

from ECU News Service

Project ECU LEAP to Receive Innovation in Teacher Education Award

Greenville, NC – Project ECU LEAP (Leading Exceptional Annual Progress) will receive the Southeastern Regional Association of Teacher Educators (SRATE) Innovation in Teacher Education Award at the SRATE 55th Annual Conference held in Myrtle Beach, SC, November 7-9. Department of Curriculum and Instruction faculty members, Diane Rodriguez and Dr. Jane Manner are project directors for Project ECU Leap.

Project ECU LEAP, is a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to provide support for licensed, in-service English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) teachers and content area teachers to become licensed as ESL teachers through a combination of on-line coursework and on-site professional development. Project ECU LEAP will implement a planned and appropriate response to the critical needs, shortages, and weaknesses in services that exist in the Greene County Public School District. East Carolina University is working in collaboration with Kansas State University, Greene County Public School District teachers and administrators, and the ECU College of Education Teacher Education Program in order to improve the delivery and quality of services to ELL students.

Project ECU LEAP is a five-year National Professional Development Program (NPDP) grant funded by the Office of English Language Acquisition (OELA) through the U.S. Department of Education. The grant provides funds for professional development activities to improve classroom instruction for English Language Learners (ELLs) and assist instructional personnel educating ELLs.

For more information on the SRATE conference, visit  For information on Project ECU LEAP contact Dr. Diane Rodriguez at  or  Dr. Jane Manner at

Home-Based Professional Development for Teachers

Greenville, NC – Agencies offering professional development programs for teachers have experienced a dramatic drop in applications for summer workshops throughout North Carolina this year. In response to high gasoline prices that plague drive-in programs, the Center for Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education (CSMTE) at East Carolina University is responding with a PLAN B approach to provide services for K-12 teachers through independent study and online programs.

Teachers living anywhere in North Carolina may apply to participate in the following four programs:

  • Reading and Thinking about Science.  Participants will choose a book from an extensive list. The book will be mailed along with detailed instructions for completing assignments that include a report, a lesson plan, and an implementation project. (Registration fee $30; 3.0 CEUs, including reading credit)
  • Earth-Caching: North Carolina’s Wild Places. Participants will choose from a list of state parks and other interesting North Carolina natural sites and complete a geo-caching assignment for the site using GPS. Instruments are available for loan from the Center for this project. Participants need access to a digital camera as well. Assignments include a report, a lesson plan, and an implementation project. (Registration fee $30; 3.0 CEUs, including technology credit)
  • Lights, Camera, Action! Teachers will learn to use Microsoft Producer (free download) to create a video project appropriate for use in the classroom. Teachers need access to a digital camera. A tutorial and sample video will be provided electronically. (Registration fee $30; 3.0 CEUs, including technology credit)
  • Online Science Modules: Promoting Standards in Science and Mathematics. These online modules are directly related to content objectives in the NC Standard Course of Study for Science. There are four modules in each of the following areas: K-2 Science, 3-5 Science, 6th Grade Science, 7th Grade Science, 8th Grade Science, Earth/Environmental Science, Physical Science, Biology, and Chemistry.  (Registration fee $40 per module; 1.2 CEUs per module—four modules per course)

In addition to receiving materials needed to complete the assignments, each participant will also receive a CSMTE tote bag, pen, notebook, and flash drive. Details about each program and application forms may be found on the CSMTE website: For more information, contact Dr. Karen Dawkins, Director.

Adult Learners Help East Carolina Solve the Teacher Shortage Crisis

undefinedFor 16 years Kathy Jones ’06 worked as a teacher’s aide at schools in rural Pamlico County and drove a school bus every day, as aides are required to do. But this fall she will walk into the classroom not as an aide but, finally, as the teacher. It will be a moment of deep pride for her and another validation of East Carolina’s groundbreaking approach to solving the state’s chronic shortage of classroom teachers.

For the full story, see “Look Who’s Teaching Now” in the Fall 2006 edition of East Magazine.

Wachovia Gives $1.25 Million for Teacher Education


Marilyn Sheerer, left, dean of the College of Education at ECU, thanks David Parker, Wachovia’s regional president for Eastern North Carolina, during a check presentation ceremony thanking Wachovia for a $1.25 million gift to the university to help ECU educate more classroom teachers.

East Carolina University has received a $1.25 million gift from Wachovia to combat the shortage of teachers in Eastern North Carolina through a partnership with community colleges.

The gift, the largest corporate donation ever received by ECU, will provide scholarships and infrastructure improvements for Partnership East, which joins university and community college resources to educate teachers throughout the region.

“Education is one of Wachovia’s top priorities,” said David Parker, Wachovia’s regional president for Eastern North Carolina. “We are so pleased to be able to partner with East Carolina University to help grow our base of highly-qualified teachers who are committed to living, teaching and improving education in our region.”

Marilyn Sheerer, dean of the College of Education at ECU, said that when the Partnership East programs are fully operational, at least 100 new teachers are expected to graduate from community college sites each year. “These graduates, for the most part, will be individuals who have grown up in the rural areas and plan to continue to live there,” Sheerer said.

“We are tremendously excited about the advantages that the Wachovia gift will provide,” Sheerer said. “The scholarships will allow us to reach more students who want to be teachers and that is the primary purpose of this effort. Partnerships allow us to accomplish more than any of us could do alone, and Partnership East, which brings together ECU, the UNC system, North Carolina community colleges and now the private sector, is an outstanding example of this principle.”

wachovia students

Education students participating in the first 2 years of course work from Pamlico Community College will have the opportunity to complete their last two years at the Coastal Consortium hub site located at Craven Community College.

Through Partnership East, centers or “hubs” have been established at Craven, Edgecombe and Wayne community colleges with a fourth proposed at College of the Albemarle in Manteo. Each hub also serves nearby community colleges.

Aspiring teachers are able to take all their course work at the hub. The first two years are taught by community college instructors, and the last two years are offered by ECU faculty members, either face-to-face or through distance-education. Because the students do not have to move or commute to ECU to complete their university degrees, they face fewer disruptions in their lives.

Molly Corbett Broad, president of the 16-campus University of North Carolina, said “Partnership East offers a wonderful example of how UNC campuses across the state can collaborate effectively with community colleges both near and far to boost the supply of high-quality teachers in our public schools. In supporting this critical effort, Wachovia is making a visionary investment in the future of eastern North Carolina.”

wachovia students 2

Students from partnering community colleges in the Coastal Consortium come together at Craven Community College to take classes from East Carolina University.

Martin Lancaster, president of the North Carolina Community College System, said, “When the private sector partners with education, great things happen. Thousands will benefit from this investment. The community colleges involved in Partnership East are proud to play a role in one of the best collaborative efforts in the state designed to educate our future ‘homegrown’ teachers.”

North Carolina’s projected enrollment growth in public schools is the fourth largest in the nation and the state will need up to 80,000 new teachers in the next 10 years. That is roughly equal to the number of teachers in classrooms in the state today.

From ECU News Service

NC QUEST Grant Offers Training

East Carolina University’s College of Education has been awarded a $210,827 grant that will offer professional development opportunities to math and science teachers who work in low-income school districts.

The grant from NC QUEST (Quality Educators through Staff Development and Training across North Carolina) was awarded through the UNC Division of University-School Programs and the Center for School Leadership Development. Funding for the “Rural Initiative in Math and Science” project came from federal resources designed to promote initiatives of the national No Child Left Behind Act.

ECU will offer training to 30 middle and high school instructors in Bertie, Lenoir and Hertford counties. On-going professional development options will include tuition for university courses, six hours of content and pedagogy meetings, materials and on-site coaching. Members of the ECU College of Education’s Rural Education Institute and the Center for Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, ECU’s Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Science, the ECU’s Department of Biology worked with these county school systems to submit the grant proposal.

ECU was one of four new partnerships to receive funding, along with UNC-Wilmington, Western Carolina and Winston-Salem State universities. Appalachian, Fayetteville State and UNC-Greensboro universities also received grants to continue comparable projects. Awards were based on evaluations by a national review panel.