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.

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 http://www.ecu.edu/cs-admin/mktg/east/Philanthropy_Winter16.cfm

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 www.ecu.edu/pe or contact Dr. Laura Bilbro-Berry at 252-328-1123 or bilbroberryl@ecu.edu

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EdNC highlights ECU’s North Carolina New Teacher Support Program work in Lenoir County

EducationNC (EdNC) visited coaches and teachers at Rochelle Middle School in Lenoir County on December 11, 2015 to learn more about the North Carolina New Teacher Support Program offered through East Carolina University’s College of Education.

The North Carolina New Teacher Support Program seeks to support teachers during their first three years in the profession so that they will stay in the classroom and help shape their communities.   The program is predominately focused on the state’s lowest performing schools in an effort to fight teacher attrition.

To read the article please click on this link to the EdNC website: Adversity in Our Schools

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Andrea Blackwood Presents at Conference On Exceptional Children

Andrea Blackwood, Technical Assistance Coordinator for the ECU Teacher Support Program for Learners with Deaf-Blindness and Julie Brickhouse, Special Educator at Eastern Elementary School in Greenville, NC presented at the 2015: 65th Conference on Exceptional Children held in Greensboro, NC November 18th to November 20th. The training addressed instruction designed to facilitate communication and math development for learners with deaf-blindness. Practical methods and examples for connecting communication and math were offered. The Communication Matrix, an assessment tool designed by Charity Rowland for individuals at the earliest stages of communication, was used as a guide to focus on specific communicative behaviors to target for learners with deaf-blindness. Examples of the various levels of communication behaviors within the Communication Matrix were examined in detailed.
Specific ideas for embedding communication and math instruction throughout the school day were presented by Julie Brickhouse. Julie shared examples for planning instruction around math concepts using the principles of the Universal Design for Learning. Participants created a lesson plan around a math topic using the Universal Design for Learning principles that was shared with the group.

The ECU Teacher Support Program for students with deaf-blindness provides technical assistance and support to teachers and other professionals who serve students that qualify for the deaf-blind registry. The Teacher Support Program also provides professional development and training. Please use the link below for more information on the ECU Teacher Support Program for students with deaf-blindness.


Kylie Dotson-Blake

Dr. Kylie Dotson-Blake Distinguished Panelist at National Mental Health Symposium

On November 3, 2015, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), the STEMconnector, the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) and the University of Phoenix College of Social Sciences partnered to offer a national mental health symposium at the National Press Club, in Washington, D.C. The event included professionals from counseling, nursing, criminal justice, social work and psychology. Dr. Kylie Dotson-Blake, an Associate Professor and Program Coordinator for the Counselor Education program in the Department of Interdisciplinary Professions, and Chair of the National Board for Certified Counselors, served as a distinguished panelist for the suicide prevention panel, offering information about community-based suicide prevention programming.

The presentations and keynotes raised awareness and fostered lively discussion regarding important topics impacting mental health in the US. Topics of focus included: the impact of legislation and federal policy on mental health services and access, sex trafficking in the United States and services for survivors, suicide awareness and prevention, mental health issues in the criminal justice system, and implementing mind-body medicine and integrative care. Presenters included directors of national organizations leading efforts to address these issues, a Pulitzer-winning author, contributors to Huffington Post and CNN, and professionals engaged in legislative action to advance policy on these topics.


SCEC Holds Holiday Gathering

The Student Council for Exceptional Children (SCEC) pre-professional club recently celebrated their Fall Holiday Gathering at Dr. Melissa Hudson’s home. The officers and members took time to reflect on the accomplishments of the club for the Fall semester, make plans for the upcoming Spring semester, and spend time bonding over good food and fun activities with their peers and faculty. Happy Holidays to the College of Education from SCEC!

Tammy Lee

Dr. Tammy Lee Recognized as North Carolina’s Most Outstanding Science Leader

Dr. Tammy Lee received the Herman and Emma Gatling Award for Outstanding Leadership in Science Education from the North Carolina Science Leadership Association (NCSLA) on November 11, 2015 at the Fall 2015 NCSLA Membership Meeting in Winston Salem . As the recipient, she is recognized as North Carolina’s most outstanding science leader of 2015.  Congratulations, Dr. Lee!

Dr. Caitlin Ryan and co-presenter/co-author, Jill Hermann-Wilmarth of Western Michigan University

LEHE Faculty attend National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Convention

NCTE Annual Convention 2015The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) held its annual convention November 19-22, 2015 in Minneapolis, MN.  With a membership of over 30,000, NCTE represents the entire range of individuals involved in fostering literacy skills of students from pre-school through doctoral programs.  Convention attendees mirrored the diversity of the membership and included PK-12 classroom teachers, administrators, teacher educators, researchers, and other policy makers. This year’s convention featured over 600 concurrent sessions that focused on timely topics critical to effective instruction and the future of English Language Arts (ELA).   Hundreds of vendors provided access to the most recent ELA publications and authors of children and young adult literature were present to discuss and sign their works.

English Education Associate Professor, Dr. Sharilyn Steadman, presented “Effectively Developing Expertise: Using Video to Hone Teacher Candidates’ Classroom Observation Skills.”  The session focused on the use of classroom videos in ENED 2123 and the observation skills that English Education teacher candidates develop as they observe, analyze, and discuss these videos before observing “live” classrooms. The teacher candidates’ abilities to transfer those observation skills from videos to classroom interactions was the highlight of the presentation.

Literacy Studies faculty member, Dr. Christy Howard presented “Strategies for Engaging Students in Content Area Literacy: A Look at Reading/Writing Connections in Social Studies.” This session focused on the role of content area literacy in classrooms. Specifically, Dr. Howard discussed how middle school teachers participating in the study used a variety of texts and strategies to engage students in social studies content with literacy activities. Strategies presented in the session represented an integration of literacy, history and technology across a range of topics.

Dr. Caitlin Ryan, also from the Literacy Studies program presented “Reading Jacqueline Woodson in Upper Elementary and Middle Grades Classrooms: Exploring LGBTQ Topics Through Her Novels and Picture Books”. This session considered the books of award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson as one way to make classrooms more inclusive of LGBTQ topics. Using lesson examples and student work samples from two 5th grade teachers’ classrooms, one of whom was a co-presenter of the session; presenters discussed ways to teach Woodson’s LGBT-inclusive books and ways to approach LGBT experiences indirectly through her books that address difference more generally.  They also explored how Woodson’s diverse characters can help readers understand ideas of intersectionality, or how characters have race AND class AND gender and other identities all at the same time.

Dr. Ryan also met with the LGBT Advisory Council, where she serves as a representative, and wrapped up her final term as NCTE’s GSEA (Gay/Straight Educators’ Alliance) chair. Dr. Ryan stepped down after leading that group for the past 5 years.

Image Caption: Dr. Caitlin Ryan and co-presenter/co-author, Jill Hermann-Wilmarth of Western Michigan University, at the GSEA table where they advertised GSEA-related sessions, displayed LGBTQ-inclusive literature, and encouraged people to become GSEA members

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Drs. Howard and Guidry Present Research at CUFA and NCSS Annual Conferences

Two faculty members in the Department of Literacy Studies, English Education, and History Education, Dr. Christy Howard (Assistant professor in Reading Education) and Dr. Allen Guidry (Associate professor in History Education) recently presented research at the annual conferences of the College and University Faculty Assembly (CUFA) and the National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS). At CUFA, Drs. Howard and Guidry presented a research paper entitled, Instructional Practices of Practicum Teacher Candidates in a Content Literacy and Social Studies Methods Co-teaching Environment.

This research arose from their collaborative project from spring 2015 where they co-taught a combined history teaching methods and content literacy course. Their qualitative research presented data that suggested that the co-taught course enhanced students’ recognition of the connection between history and literacy. Their research also suggested that both faculty and students found the co-taught university course to be an effective means for modeling and building collaboration among teacher candidates.

Dr. Howard commented, “While our purpose was to model the co-teaching process for our students, it was a tremendous benefit for me to collaborate with Dr. Guidry across disciplines.” At NCSS, Drs. Guidry and Howard teamed with a local high school teacher, Mrs. Jennifer Bryan at South Central HS, to present a new teaching strategy for analyzing and interpreting a variety of historical resources the team developed called SPACES. The presentation was entitled Civil Rights 360 – Viewing Complex Problems through Multiple Perspectives and presented an interactive website the team designed to guide high school students through an historical investigation.

Dr. Guidry noted of the reception of the presentation by NCSS attendees, “It was exciting to see so many teachers interested in this idea. The design team really wanted to create an engaging and academically rigorous approach to historical inquiry that all students could access. The feedback from the field trial of the method and from NCSS participants suggests that we are on the right track.”