NC State College of Education Welcomes 46 New Fellows to Principal Preparation Program | College of Education

New wolf statue on central campus.

Four cohorts of new principal fellows will begin their two-year journey to become school administrators this May through the NC State College of Education’s Master of School Administration (MSA) program.

The College of Education’s principal preparation program is one of only five in the nation to be recognized as exemplary by the University Council for Educational Administration and was recently ranked as the 14th best principal preparation program in the nation and 1st in the state by U.S. News & World Report.

All 46 students within the four cohorts will graduate in May 2022 with a North Carolina school principal license and a Master of School Administration degree. Upon graduation, graduates will serve as leaders in high-needs public schools throughout the state.

You can meet the new principal fellows below:

Cumberland Cohort

 Teresa Pierrie, MSA, Cumberland County Cohort coachTeresa Pierrie, MSA serves as the Cohort Coach for the Cumberland Cohort. She is also the Director of Programs for WakeEd Partnership, an education non-profit supporting the mission of the Wake County Public School System, where she designs andimplements professional development in STEM and teacher leadership as well as manages programs supporting early childhood literacy. She serves in this role following a 30 year career inpublic education that included experience as a secondary English teacher, various roles as a central services administrator, and two principalships. Her specific passion and expertise are inthe areas of professional development, instructional innovation, and school culture and team development.

Mrs. Pierrie was the founding principal of Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy, an innovative early college model merging middle school and high school education with leadership, single gender advocacy, and college preparatory academics. Her work in innovative school models earned her recognition as a News and Observer “Tarheel of the Week” in August 2012. She also served as the principal of Wake Early College of Health Sciences. She has served on the boards of the Wake County PTA Council and Partners Against Trafficking Humans in North Carolina.

A two-time NC State University graduate, Mrs. Pierrie holds masters’ degrees in adult education and school administration. She and her husband, Richard, are the proud parents of three Wake County Public School System graduates, one of whom is currently pursuing a doctorate in school leadership from NC State University. She believes in the “work hard, play hard” philosophy, enjoying theater, traveling — especially camping — and bowling in her spare time. Mrs. Pierrie can be reached at tdpierri@ncsu.edu.

Cumberland County Principal Fellow Danielle BellDanielle Bell

Danielle Bell earned a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in telecommunications from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Danielle became a teacher through North Carolina’s Lateral Entry Program and has taught middle grades English Language Arts. Danielle has coached pep squad, served on the School Improvement Team, and in her role as a journalism teacher, supervised the production of both the school newspaper and school yearbook. Danielle works closely with Student Activities to plan and host events such as school spelling bees, pep rallies, assemblies, galas, and award ceremonies. Danielle can be reached at debell3@ncsu.edu.

Cumberland County Principal Fellow Carrie BlanchardCarrie Blanchard

Carrie Blanchard earned an associate’s degree at Fayetteville Technical Community College and earned her bachelor’s degree at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Carrie started her teaching career as a kindergarten teacher and is now teaching Pre-K at Alderman Road Elementary School in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Carrie has served as grade chair and as the school improvement team secretary, participated in the CARES mentoring program, served on the Academic Growth Professional Learning Community, and is an active member of the Parent Involvement Professional Learning Community. Carrie enjoys being a member of the Singapore Math Team at Alderman Road Elementary School, where she helps teachers and students as well as provides professional development to her colleagues. Carrie can be reached at cablanch@ncsu.edu.

Cumberland County Principal Fellow Leon BordersLeon Borders

Leon Borders earned his undergraduate degree in sociology from Fayetteville State University in 2009. He has served with Cumberland County Schools in many capacities and has primarily worked with students with exceptionalities (serious emotional disability and mild intellectual disability populations). Leon piloted the Middle School Alternate Extension Education program. This program focuses on students who continue to struggle behaviorally despite multiple interventions provided in traditional and alternative school settings. Leon has served as head bowling coach, head middle school basketball coach, assistant football coach, assistant track coach, and a member of the PBIS committee. He currently serves as the exceptional children’s case manager chair for Cumberland County Schools. Leon can be reached at lborder@ncsu.edu.

Cumberland County Principal Fellow Lakeisha BradleyLakeisha Bradley

Lakeisha Bradley earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Alabama in biology with a concentration in secondary education. Lakeisha has taught secondary science in Cumberland County Schools for 10 years. She was an active member of the School Improvement Team for many years, as well as the School Improvement Team chair for four years. Within her school, Lakeisha has served as HOSA advisor, yearbook advisor, and Grants Committee facilitator. As her school expanded from a health science concentration to a career and technical focus, she maintained a vital role as the Advisory Board liaison to help implement career pathway opportunities with local leaders in the community and expand upon the development of the school’s new vision. Lakeisha’s passion for hands-on, real life applications in science has extended well beyond the classroom. Lakeisha taught both biology and earth science at Cumberland Polytechnic High School, formerly known as Howard Health & Life Sciences High School. She is now the lead instructor for the Teaching for Excellence in a Career in Health (TEACH) program at the Southern Area Regional Health Education Center and serves as a Math and Science teacher for Upward Bound at Fayetteville State University. Lakeisha can be reached at llbradle@ncsu.edu.

Cumberland County Principal Fellow Jonathan DentJonathan Dent

Jonathan Dent earned a Bachelor of Science degree in exercise and sport science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2005. He has taught physical education and health at Mac Williams Middle School for 15 years. He coached soccer at Mac Williams for 11 years and at Cape Fear High school for four years. Jonathan was the Mid South High School Boys Coach of the Year in 2016 and was named the Fayetteville Observer Prep High School Coach of the year in 2017. He also coached wrestling for 12 years at Mac Williams. He is a National AIC coach as recognized by the NFHSA. Jonathan has helped to organize and present CCS professional development in physical education, served on the Super Fitness Field Day scoring/planning/judging committee, and serves as a beginning teacher mentor at his school. Jonathan can be reached at jdent@ncsu.edu.

Cumberland County Principal Fellow Kacheckia DewittKacheckia Dewitt

Kacheckia Dewitt earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Troy University. She is a lateral entry teacher and has taught Project Lead the Way biomedical sciences and health occupations courses at the Academy of Health Sciences and Technology at Westover High School since the beginning of her career. She has served as the school’s HOSA advisor, a beginning teacher mentor and interim Director of the Academy of Health Sciences and Technology. Kacheckia remains active throughout the community and state as the Sandhills Region HOSA advisor and the chair-elect of NC HOSA. In her free time, she enjoys sharing STEM learning opportunities at schools and programs in Cumberland County that may not have access to transformative learning opportunities. She has taught forensics and biomedical science using STEM activities for the Southern Regional Area Health Education Center in Fayetteville and 21st Century Community Learning Centers at Fayetteville State University and Douglas Byrd High School. Kacheckia can be reached at ksdewitt@ncsu.edu.

Cumberland County Principal Fellow Marissa FuxMarissa Fux

Marissa Fux earned her undergraduate degree in special education with a concentration in reading from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Marissa has worked as a special education teacher in Cumberland County Schools. Currently she is an exceptional children’s case manager for two elementary schools and one high school within Cumberland County Schools. Marissa was named the 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year for South View Middle School. She has been involved in community outreach and has served as a School Improvement Team member, broadcasting advisor, pep squad coach, mentor for beginning teachers, PBIS team member, yearbook advisor, and picture day coordinator. Marissa can be reached at mlfux@ncsu.edu.

Cumberland Country Principal Fellow Stephen Hall Jr.Stephen Hall Jr.

Stephen Hall Jr. earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Fayetteville State University. In his 19 year career, he has served as a grade level chair (four times), SIT chairperson, a Science Olympiad coach (four years), an ILT mentor, and began a student council. He has taught second through fifth grades and is presently a fourth grade reading and social studies teacher at New Century International Elementary School. Stephen can be reached at: sahall22@ncsu.edu.



Cumberland County Principal Fellow Tracy HillTracy Hill

Tracy Hill earned her Bachelor of Science in criminal justice from American Intercontinental University, where she graduated summa cum laude. She has worked for Cumberland County Schools for 21 years; 15 years as bookkeeper/salary analyst, and seven years as a teacher. Tracy has been recognized each year with certificates of achievement for student’s proficiency reaching above 95%. Tracy has been recognized as a Teachers at Work Program recipient, DBHS Teacher of the Year, as well as National Academy Foundation World Teacher Day Recognition recipient. Additionally, her most recent accomplishment includes recognition as the runner-up for Cumberland County Teacher of the Year. She serves as a teacher mentor, is a former Guardian ad Litem with the Cumberland County Court System and volunteers as a youth mentor. Tracy is currently the director of the Academy of Finance at Douglas Byrd High School in Cumberland County. Tracy can be reached at tghill2@ncsu.edu.

Cumberland County Principal Fellow Ashantee McKelleyAshantee McKelley 

Ashantee McKelley earned a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Fayetteville State University. She teaches fourth grade and is the grade-level chair at Warrenwood Elementary. She was Warrenwood Elementary Teacher of the Year for the 2014-2015 school year. Ashantee has served as a Science Olympiad Coach, beginning teacher mentor, and teacher candidate mentor. She is a member of the School Improvement Team, Academically or Intellectually Gifted Needs Determination Team, and Home-School Relations Team. Ashantee can be reached at admckell@ncsu.edu.

Cumberland County Principal Fellow LaTara Ray LaTara Ray 

LaTara Ray earned a master’s degree in business management and leadership from Liberty University and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Fayetteville State University. Through NC State University, she also completed her teaching requirements in the Business and Marketing Education Professional Licensure Program. Currently, she teaches Computer Science Discoveries III, Introduction to Office Productivity and Keyboarding & Digital Literacy to all grades at the middle level. Previously, she was an Academy of Finance High School teacher where she taught Entrepreneurship I, Multimedia & Web Page Design and Microsoft Word & PowerPoint courses. While there, she served as a member of the PBIS Committee, FBLA co-adviser, Key Club adviser and Alpha Omega Rho Honor/Service Girl’s Sorority co-adviser. She is a graduate of the Cumberland County Institute for Community Leadership Program.LaTara can be reached at lyray2@ncsu.edu.

Cumberland County Principal Fellow Emily RichardsEmily Richards
Emily Richards earned her undergraduate degree in middle grades ELA with a concentration in K-12 special education (mild-moderate) from Fayetteville State University in 2014. Following her graduation, she began her teaching career in Cumberland County Schools as a 7th grade ELA teacher at Gray’s Creek Middle School, where she earned many honors and held leadership responsibilities such as grade level chair. In 2016, she returned to Fayetteville State University where she earned her master’s degree in reading education. In 2017, she began teaching 3rd grade at Long Hill Elementary School in Cumberland County. Emily served as Long Hill’s Teacher of the Year in 2018-2019, moving forward to win Pine Forest District’s Teacher of the Year and finishing as 2nd Runner-up Cumberland County Teacher of the Year for 2018-2019. She represented the teachers in Cumberland County on their Strategic Planning Committee Team where she helped compose Cumberland County’s new strategic plan and is currently serving on the Premier Professionals Committee. Emily is also her school’s Student Involvement Correlate chair as well as grade level chair for third grade. Emily can be reached at erricha2@ncsu.edu.

Cumberland County Principal Fellow Brittany RobertsBrittany Roberts

Brittany Roberts received a Bachelor of Science in exercise sport physiology and graduated with honors from the University of North Carolina Pembroke. She also earned a master’s degree in K-12 physical education and health with a minor in sport administration from the University of North Carolina Pembroke. Brittany is an Ella Baker Trainer for Children Defense Fund Freedom Schools where she provides training for college students on how to teach integrated reading curriculum to K-12 students. She is a Teach for America South Carolina alumni member. At Walker Spivey Elementary School, she is the physical education teacher, PBIS chair, and SIT committee member. Brittany is also head coach for South View High School soccer team. Brittany can be reached at brobert5@ncsu.edu.

Cumberland County Principal Fellow Quantisha SpencerQuantisha Spencer

Quantisha Spencer earned a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Fayetteville State University. She began her teaching career with Cumberland County Schools in 2010 where she taught third and fourth grade. Quantisha currently serves as an Instructional Coach at Howard Hall Elementary School in Fayetteville, NC. She has facilitated several professional development workshops for teachers and other coaches in the district. Additionally, Quantisha serves as a member of the Instructional Leadership Team, chair of the School Improvement Team, back-up testing coordinator, and is a mentor to beginning teachers. She also serves as a member of Cumberland County School’s Math Advisory Team. Quantisha can be reached at qmspence@ncsu.edu.

Cumberland County Principal Fellow Kristy WashingtonKristy Washington

Kristy Washington earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in mathematics from Fayetteville State University in 2011. She earned her Master of Arts in mathematics from Wake Forest University in 2013 and her Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction from Gardner Webb University in 2018. Kristy has served on the curriculum writing team for Cumberland County since 2011, where she develops curriculum materials and provides lessons for teachers in the county to follow. Kristy is also on the Equity-Focused Classroom Management Team where she creates and facilitates ongoing professional development to help other teachers in the county understand, use, and implement equity in their classrooms. Kristy is currently a mathematics teacher at Westover High School, where she teaches Math 1. Kristy can be reached at kmmitch3@ncsu.edu.

Durham Cohort

Durham County Cohort Coach Pat Ashley, Ed.D.Pat Ashley, Ed.D. serves as the director of the Durham Cohort. She served as the previous cohort director of the NCSU Cohort and the Durham Principal Leadership Academy (DPLA), North Carolina State University’s Educational Leadership Academy for Durham. Ashley has a passion for student success and is committed to ensuring high student achievement by building high-performing schools and districts. Her recent prior experience leading District and School Transformation for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction focused on data-documented school and district turnaround. She oversaw the successful implementation of the NC Turnaround Initiative as well as North Carolina’s ambitious turnaround effort for 12 districts and 123 schools as part of a Race to the Top grant. In 2013, she received the NC Public School Forum Jay Robinson Leadership Award for exemplary leadership with a statewide impact. Before returning to her home state of North Carolina in 2006, she was assistant superintendent for instruction of Kentucky’s Owensboro Public Schools— identified by Standard and Poor’s as an “outperforming” Title I district where student achievement far exceeded predictive variables. She began her career as a teacher before becoming a counselor and school psychologist. These experiences solidified her knowledge of how students learn. She was a middle school principal in an inner-city magnet school in Charlotte; principal of a large comprehensive high school in State College, Penn.; and, after a family relocation to Kentucky, she became the principal of an elementary school identified as low performing. Following a short period of great collaboration, this school became the highest achieving school in Kentucky for multiple years based on statewide assessment data. Among multiple honors, the school was featured on the Today Show for educational innovation and selected as a National Blue Ribbon School. Considerable years as a principal in diverse settings developed Ashleys deep understanding of the critical role a principal plays in a school’s success. Her undergraduate degree in history is from Duke University and her master’s degree and doctorate are from NC State University. She studied in India on a Fulbright and is currently a teaching assistant professor at North Carolina State University. Dr. Ashley can be reached at dr.pat.ashley@gmail.com.

Durham County Principal Fellow Alaina BurrAlaina Burr

Alaina Burr earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and sociology from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master’s degree in teaching English to speakers of other languages from Greensboro College and a community Spanish interpreter certification from Durham Technical Community College. She was recognized as the Riverside High School and Durham Public Schools Teacher of the Year in 2012. She received the Educator Grant for Teacher Exchange to Santa Ana, El Salvador in 2011 from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational Affairs’ Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program. In addition to teaching in Durham and Alamance counties, she has also worked with teachers and students in Spain, Mexico, El Salvador and China. She has served on the Superintendent’s Advisory Council, the Closing the Achievement Gap Committee, and the School Improvement Team. She has also served as a department head. She has provided professional development for the school and district, as well as for Duke University’s master’s degree cohorts and The Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University. Alaina is certified in K-12 ESL and 9-12 English Language Arts and currently serves as a teaching and learning coach at Riverside High School in Durham.Alaina can be reached at aburr@ncsu.edu

Durham County Principal Fellow Broc DickersonBroc Dickerson

Broc Dickerson graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in physical education with a concentration in education from North Carolina Central University. While attending NCCU, Broc was a member of Golden Key International Honor Society. Broc taught middle school health for sixth, seventh, and eighth graders at Carrington Middle School. He also served a year as the ISS coordinator and a seventh grade science teacher. He currently teaches Healthful Living for Riverside High School, where he also serves as department chair and coaches the wrestling team. Broc can be reached at bhdicker@ncsu.edu.


Durham County Principal Fellow John GuffeyJohn Guffey

John Guffey earned a bachelor’s degree in religious studies from Liberty University in 2016 and completed a master’s degree in religion with an emphasis on global studies in 2018. He has taught several social studies courses at the Durham Performance Learning Center, where he was also named Teacher of the Year in 2019. John currently teaches Latinx Studies and Civics and Economics at Durham Performance Learning Center. He is also SIT team chairperson, representative to the Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Council, Leadership Team member, and Social Studies Department Chair. John can be reached at jguffey@ncsu.edu.

Durham County Principal Fellow Amber HaiglerAmber Haigler

Amber Haigler earned a Bachelor of Science in chemistry, secondary education at Appalachian State University as an NC Teaching Fellow. One of her most profound memories from Appalachian State is receiving the opportunity to study abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina to complete her minor in Spanish. She began her teaching career at Mallard Creek High in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District where she served as the chemistry PLC lead, a member of the Instructional Excellence Leadership Team, the Personalized Learning Design Team and the Climate and Culture Team. Her chemistry PLC team was recently recognized for having the highest growth for the Chemistry NCFE in the district. Amber can be reached at aahaigle@ncsu.edu.

Durham County Principal Fellow Alexis MagillAlexis Magill

Alexis Magill earned her undergraduate degree in elementary education (K-6) from Appalachian State University. She taught fourth and fifth grades in Alamance County, where she was recognized as Teacher of the Year for Highland Elementary School during the 2014-2015 school year. While teaching, she also earned a Master of Education specializing in gifted education from Liberty University. Alexis developed and implemented district-wide unit plans, has served on school improvement teams, and is a member of the Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Council for Durham Public Schools. She currently serves as the academically and intelligently gifted specialist and state testing coordinator for C.C. Spaulding Elementary in Durham. Alexis can be reached at ahmagill@ncsu.edu.

Durham County Principal Fellow Crystal TurnerCrystal Turner

Crystal Turner earned a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from NC State University. She received a Master of Education in curriculum and instruction from the University of Florida in 2017. She taught at Glenn Elementary in Durham, North Carolina from 2012 to 2018, where she was named Teacher of the Year in 2018 and was named a top five finalist for District Teacher of Year. Crystal also served as grade level team leader for two years. She served on SIT, AIG, PBIS, and Wellness committees during her six years there as well. Crystal currently works at C.C. Spaulding Elementary in Durham as a literacy coach. In this role, she supports K-5 teachers in instructional delivery, provides professional development, and implements coaching cycles as needed. Crystal also currently serves as the head volleyball coach at Shepard Middle School in Durham. Crystal can be reached at cjturner@ncsu.edu.

Durham County Principal Fellow Rob WeldonRob Weldon

Rob Weldon earned his undergraduate degree in anthropology with a minor in social and economic justice from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as well as a master’s degree in international education administration and policy analysis from Stanford University. He has worked with a wide variety of educational entities in the U.S. and abroad, including teaching at outdoor education centers in rural Bolivia. Rob piloted a successful coaching model for a New York City nonprofit supporting middle school teachers around blended learning. He has taught Spanish and fifth grade science at Sandy Ridge Elementary School, where he was Support Staff of the Year in 2017. Rob is currently the teaching and learning coach at Lucas Middle School in Durham. Rob can be reached at rfweldon@ncsu.edu.

NELA Cohort

NELA Cohort Director Cathy Williams, Ed.D.Cathy Williams, Ed.D. serves as the director of the Northeast Leadership Academy (NELA) Cohort. She previously served as cohort director for the Johnston Principal Leadership Academy (JPLA) and for NELA Cohort VI. For over a decade, Williams has been a part of the NC State Principal Preparation team. She was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois and began her teaching career in North Carolina in 1990. She retired in 2014 after spending nine years as a classroom teacher, three years as a central office administrator, and 12 years as a school administrator. Williams earned her master’s degree in 2002 and her Ed.D. in 2011, both in school leadership, from North Carolina State University. She is the mother of four adult daughters and has nine grandchildren.Dr. Williams can be reached at ccwilli3@ncsu.edu.

NELA Principal Fellow Brittney BrouwersBrittney Brouwers

Brittney Brouwers earned an undergraduate degree in child and adolescent studies with a medal in community engagement from California State University Fullerton. In 2015, she began teaching third grade at Nashville Elementary School, where she was awarded Beginning Teacher of the Year. She taught fourth and fifth grades as an extended impact teacher at Coker-Wimberly Elementary. She was recognized as a Teacher with Value-Added score in the top 25% statewide for three consecutive years before transitioning to her current role as multi-classroom leader. In this role, she is serving teachers and stakeholders in third, fourth and fifth grade. She is a Teach for America Alumna and acting support staff member. Brittney can be reached at bmbrouwe@ncsu.edu.

NELA Principal Fellow Melissa Denton Melissa Denton 

Melissa Denton graduated with a communications degree from Mount Olive College and was a four-year collegiate athlete. She began her career as a sports editor with Cox Communications in Williamston, North Carolina. Her passion for working with youth and the families in the community grew, and in 2006 she shifted her career path to the educational sector. Since her decision to enter the classroom, Melissa has impacted numerous families within the Southern Nash High School district, and those families have become a treasured part of her story. As a lateral entry English teacher, Melissa has taught students in grades nine through 12 on all academic levels. She was the head coach of the junior varsity softball team and assistant coach for the varsity team during her first 10 years. She has served on the Leadership Team (secretary), Curriculum and Instruction Committee, and the Climate Committee (chair). Currently, she is the Key Club advisor, a PTO member, an active member of PBIS, the Climate Committee, and the Graduation Speech Committee. Melissa’s passion for leadership and education are evident as she works part-time as a teacher with NRMPS’s Evening Academy, providing educational and behavioral interventions for students, and in her spare time, she serves as the first vice president of the Beta Theta chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, a professional honor society of key women educators worldwide. Melissa can be reached at madenton@ncsu.edu.

NELA Principal Fellow Michelle DisneyMichelle Disney

Michelle Disney earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from NC Wesleyan College in 2000. She worked for Caterpillar, Inc in human resources for 10 years, where she earned her Six Sigma Black Belt (a lean manufacturing and process improvement initiative). She was certified as a Black Belt in 2008 for saving the company over a quarter of a million dollars through project completions. In 2011, she then earned her master’s degree in teaching from NC State University. Michelle’s teaching career began at Glendale-Kenly Elementary, where she has taught third grade for two years, fourth grade for four years and kindergarten for two years. Michelle was Glendale-Kenly’s First Year Teacher of the Year in 2012, and a “Flame For Learning” Johnston County Finalist in 2014, 2015 and 2017. She is currently serving as an instructional coach and interventionist at GKE as well as the mentor/coordinator for beginning teachers. Michelle can be reached at mrdisney@ncsu.edu.

NELA Principal Fellow Candi HortonCandi Horton

Candi Horton earned her Bachelor of Science in elementary education from NC State University in 2010. Upon graduating, she taught for four years in fourth grade at Willis Hare Elementary School in Northampton County. During those years, she served as co-chair of the School Improvement Team and was a member of The Quality Review Assurance Team. In 2014, Candi joined the staff of Manning Elementary School in Roanoke Rapids as a fifth grade teacher. Since her time at Manning, she has served as grade chair, participated in teacher leaders professional development, completed mentor training and hosted several student teachers. Recently, Candi was recognized at the NC Math Conference as one of their Outstanding Elementary Math Teachers for the 2018-2019 school year. Candi can be reached at clallen2@ncsu.edu.

NELA Principal Fellow Heather KarnsHeather Karns

Heather Karns earned her Bachelor of Science in education from the State University of New York at Fredonia and then earned a Master of Science in education from Buffalo State College. She taught sixth grade and third grade in the parochial school system in Orchard Park, New York before moving to North Carolina. Heather taught fourth grade at Belmont Elementary School in the Roanoke Rapids Graded School District. She has served as Grade Level PLC chair, a School Improvement Team member and chair, technology facilitator, and is now an instructional coach at Belmont Elementary School. Heather can be reached at hmkarns@ncsu.edu.

NELA Principal Fellow Brandan LucasBrandan Lucas

Brandan Lucas graduated from Southwestern College in Kansas with a Bachelor of Arts in pastoral studies. He also earned a Master of Divinity degree from the Shaw University Divinity School. He received his teacher certification in special education (general curriculum K-12) through East Carolina University’s NC Teach program. Brandan has served in many roles in the Nash Rocky Mount school district. In addition to teaching in an Extend I classroom (grades nine through 12), he was a member of the Curriculum Design Team where he helped create curriculum maps and pacing guides. Brandan has also co-taught high school English classes at Nash Central High School. In addition to teaching, he has served as a member of the School Improvement Team and as co-chair of the EC Department. Brandan can be reached at belucas3@ncsu.edu.

NELA Principal Fellow Lindsay PalmerLindsay Palmer

Lindsay Palmer earned a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from Central Michigan University and a Master of Arts in reading curriculum and instruction from the University of Phoenix. She began her career as a fifth grade teacher at W.A. Pattillo School. Lindsay has taught all 15 years in Edgecombe County at both W. A. Pattillo and Martin Millennium Academy. She has been recognized twice as Teacher of the Year. Lindsay serves as the chair for the School Improvement Team and is a sponsor for her school’s Junior Beta Club. The past two years, she has been a multi-classroom leader (MCL) for 3-5 grade ELA teachers. Lindsay can be reached at lmpalme3@ncsu.edu.

NELA Principal Fellow Lindsey ParhamLindsey Parham

Lindsey Parham received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a concentration in child development from Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina. She then attended Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia and earned a Master of Arts in human service: marriage and family therapy. She gained her K-6 teaching license through the completion of courses at East Carolina University and NC Wesleyan College. Lindsey created a character education curriculum for K-12 students at a local charter school for three years. She has participated in, implemented, and led professional developments on CHAMPS, Teach Like a Champion, NWEA, and more. From the years 2015-2020, Lindsey has taught reading, math, and social studies for fifth grade in the Nash-Rocky Mount area. She was voted Teacher of the Year at her current school for the 2019-2020 school year. Lindsey can be reached at ljparham@ncsu.edu.

NELA Principal Fellow Whitney PoperWhitney Poper

Whitney Poper earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Meredith College as an NC Teaching Fellow. She earned her National Board Certification in 2010 and renewed her certification in 2019. Whitney taught geometry at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School from 2005-2012 before moving to Sampson County. While in Sampson County, she taught Math 1, pre-calculus, and AP Calculus at Midway High School, where she was the Math Department chair. She currently serves as a high school instructional coach at all four traditional high schools and the early college. Whitney can be reached at wclamm@ncsu.edu.

NELA Principal Fellow Jessica RichardsonJessica Richardson

Jessica Richardson earned a Bachelor of Science in secondary science education with a concentration in biology at NC State University as an NC Teaching Fellow. She taught Earth and environmental science, biology, and physical science at Corinth Holders High School in Johnston County. Currently, she teaches honors biology at Nash-Rocky Mount Early College High School, where she serves as Science Department head, Peer Instructional Rounds lead, beginning teacher mentor, and is the upcoming School Improvement Team co-chair for the next school year. Jessica was recognized as Beginning Teacher of the Year for Corinth Holders High School (2015-2016). She also has the prestigious honor of being recognized as High School Teacher of the Year for the 2019-2020 school year for Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools. Jessica can be reached at jlanstea@ncsu.edu.

NELA Principal Fellow Emily RoseEmily Rose

Emily Rose earned a Bachelor of Science in child development and a K-6 license from Meredith College. She has served as a fourth grade teacher since beginning her career at West Smithfield Elementary in Smithfield, NC. During the 2018-2019 school year, she was chosen to represent her school as the Leading with the Heart recipient. She is currently serving as her school’s School Improvement Team chair. Along with SIT chair, she holds the positions of grade level chair and mentor to beginning teachers. Emily has been a part of implementing AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) in her elementary school by attending the AVID Summer Institute and assisting with professional development for her colleagues. Emily can be reached at elrose@ncsu.edu.

NELA Principal Fellow Greterra TabronGreterra Tabron

Greterra Tabron earned a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from East Carolina University in 2017. She is a third grade teacher at Englewood Elementary School within Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools. She worked at Englewood Elementary School assisting teachers in the classroom with small group instruction from 2014-2016, prior to graduation. Her experience continued from 2016-2017 at Bunn Elementary School as a teacher’s assistant and a bus driver. During this time, she saw the importance of building relationships with students. In 2020, she received an award for the Top 25% of EVAAS growth within the district as well as an award for demonstrating the 25% of EVAAS growth within the state. Additionally,Greterra is currently the co-chair for the Parental Involvement and Engagement Committee where she assisted in planning the school’s Thanksgiving Luncheon, Dad’s Breakfast, and Career Day. Greterra can be reached at gtabron@ncsu.edu.

NELA Principal Fellow Sardavia WilliamsSardavia Williams

Sardavia Williams earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration – social entrepreneurship from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she graduated magna cum laude. While attending UNCG, she was a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society, performing in the top 10% of her junior class. During her undergraduate years, Sardavia spent time advising, tutoring and mentoring middle school students with the Empowering Youth through Education Program, as well as her peers as a Student Success Assistant with the university’s special support TRIO program. In 2012, Sardavia joined Teach for America in Eastern NC where she served as a 6th-8th grade math teacher and, in her second year, she served as a Math 1 teacher. In this second year, she led in her district with 98% proficiency on the EOC. Sardavia has also taught math intervention, and served as a dean of culture, dean of students and math curriculum, and manager of teacher leadership development within a public school, charter school, and as a TFA staff member. Sardavia can be reached at swilli35@ncsu.edu

Wake Cohort

Wake Cohort Coach Karen Anderson, Ed.S.Karen Anderson, Ed.S. serves as the Wake Cohort Director. She was the previous cohort director for the Wake Principal Leadership Program (WPLP). Karen is a proud NC Teaching Fellow and a graduate of North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Science in elementary education. She successfully completed the Piedmont Triad Leadership Academy and earned a Master of School Administration from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Most recently, she received her Educational Specialist (Ed.S) program from Appalachian State University, specializing in leading and promoting high-quality student achievement. Her experiences as a teacher, curriculum facilitator, assistant principal and principal solidified her desire and passion for joining the NC State Principal Preparation team in their pursuit of excellence in education. Mrs. Anderson can be reached at klrosebo@ncsu.edu.

Wake County Principal Fellow Traci ArnemannTraci Arnemann

Traci Arnemann earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education with a concentration in early childhood education from the State University of New York at Oneonta in 2000. Additionally, she earned a master’s degree in special education from Dowling College in 2004. Traci’s career as an educator spans 15 years spent in three different states: New York, Florida and North Carolina. She has taught middle grades mathematics, PE and science, as well as elementary grades five, three and one. Traci can be reached at trarnema@ncsu.edu.


Wake County Principal Fellow Krista BlackburnKrista Blackburn

Krista Blackburn graduated with a Bachelor of Music in education from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio. She has taught elementary music, high school choir and has since received additional certifications in elementary education and middle grades math. She has served on her previous school’s School Improvement Team, been the PBIS Team chair at her current school, as well as serving as a team leader, Math Department chair and a member of the Leadership, Equity and Intervention Teams. Krista most recently served as a sixth grade math teacher at East Cary Middle School. Krista can be reached at ksblackb@ncsu.edu.

Wake County Principal Fellow Wyandotta ErvinWyandotta Ervin

Wyandotta Ervin earned her undergraduate degree in English and secondary education from Chicago State University and a master’s degree in school counseling from Governors State University. She served 10 years as a high school English teacher in her hometown of Chicago. She maintained leadership roles such as English Department chair and junior grade level lead. As a result of her commitment to student equity, she partnered with community stakeholders in Chicago to create a restorative justice program. She was nominated for Teacher of the Year in 2019. She currently serves as an English teacher, intervention specialist, digital portfolio team lead and mentor teacher in Wake County. Wyandotta can be reached at wervin@ncsu.edu.

Wake County Principal Fellow Taylor EvansTaylor Evans

Taylor Evans earned a Bachelor of Science in special education with honors from Winston-Salem State University. She served as a resource and occupational course of study teacher as well as the junior varsity women’s volleyball head coach at Parkland Magnet High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She currently serves as the lead behavior support teacher at Enloe Magnet High School in Raleigh, North Carolina. She is also a professional development facilitator and a member of the school’s Equity Committee, Discipline Committee, and School Improvement Team. Taylor can be reached at tnevans4@ncsu.edu.

Wake County Principal Fellow Kortney HowertonKortney Howerton

Kortney Howerton earned an undergraduate degree in early childhood education and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Penn State University. She began her career at Pearsontown Elementary in Durham County as a third grade teacher. During her time in Durham County, Kortney was a part of Pearsontown’s school leadership team. After three years in that position, Kortney became a first grade teacher in Wake County at Brier Creek Elementary. Kortney has served as grade chair leader and is a member of the Curriculum Instruction Team at Brier Creek. Kortney can be reached at kbhowert@ncsu.edu.

Wake County Principal Fellow Sonya MeeksSonya Meeks

Sonya Meeks earned a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Winston Salem State University. She earned National Board Certification in 2010. She has served as a member of the School Improvement Team. She now serves as Career and Technical Education Department chair. She is actively involved in extracurricular activities, including Student Government Association and Prom Committee and serves as a mentor teacher. Sonya can be reached at sdmeeks@ncsu.edu.



Wake County Principal Fellow Leanna PierceLeanna Pierce

Leanna Pierce earned her undergraduate degree in middle grades education – math and science from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. After earning her degree, she began teaching in Virginia at Christiansburg Middle School. Leanna has been developing students’ love for learning by using project-based learning and interactive notebooks, and is passionate about using technology whenever possible. She has been the chair of the MathCounts Club, American Sign Language Club, LEGO Club and a Theatre Club director, as well as coached track and field for three years. She is currently a sixth grade math teacher at Carroll Magnet Middle School. Leanna can be reached at lpierce@ncsu.edu.

Wake County Principal Fellow Kristy SmithKristy Smith

Kristy Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from Denison University and holds a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from Ashland University. She is in her 12th year as a teacher in the Wake County Public School System, teaching at both Holly Ridge Middle School and Holly Springs High School. She is certified in the subject areas of math and science and currently teaches biology at Holly Springs High. She has held leadership positions throughout her teaching career, including roles as her Professional Learning Team leader, Intervention & Continuous Improvement Team, and Hospitality Committee leader. Kristy has coached girls’ basketball and girls’ tennis. Additionally, she was recognized with the “Character Award” at Holly Ridge Middle for her integrity and dedication to students. Kristy can be reached at kmsmit42@ncsu.edu.

Wake County Principal Fellow Beverly Taylor-JonesBeverly Taylor-Jones

Beverly Taylor-Jones received her Bachelor of Arts in communications at the City University of New York at Brooklyn College and a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon. Since 2006, Beverly has been an exceptional education teacher and program facilitator responsible for the teaching and learning of exceptional education students in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City and Wake County Schools. Her background and focus on teacher collaboration has led to a number of volunteer opportunities and leadership roles in public schools and the community. She is currently a CCR teacher at East Wake Middle School. Beverly can be reached at btaylor5@ncsu.edu.

Wake County Principal Fellow Justin ViensJustin Viens

Justin Viens earned his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in international relations from Appalachian State University. Following graduation, Justin began teaching ESL in South Korea for four years. Following his return to the U.S., he became a lateral entry teacher through NC State University. Justin was recognized as Teacher of the Year in 2018 from Fuquay-Varina Middle School, where he has taught social studies since 2014. He has collaborated with Wake County 4-H to develop student leadership opportunities within his school. Justin can be reached at jviens@ncsu.edu.


Wake County Principal Fellow Randi WoodruffRandi Woodruff

Randi Woodruff earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Elon University as an NC Teaching Fellow. She then went to University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to obtain a master’s degree in K-12 literacy. Her National Board Certification area is a generalist in early childhood. In her 15th year of teaching, she has been a mentor and member of several school and county committees and teams. She is currently at Brier Creek Elementary School in Wake County, teaching fourth grade as the grade level chair. She also serves as the Curriculum and Instruction chair for the school, MTSS representative, School Improvement Team member, Equity Team Chair, and participant in Wake County’s Equity and the Brain cohort for Culturally Responsive Teaching. Randi can be reached at rmwoodru@ncsu.edu.

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