A Special Education major, Calli Kessinger has been selected as the 2023 UNCG Student Teacher of the Year and will represent UNC Greensboro at the upcoming state competition sponsored by the North Carolina Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (NCACTE).

Kessinger’s journey to earning her degree from UNCG included some twists. She began her collegiate career at UNC Asheville before spending two years at Central Carolina Community College. It was then that she headed to UNCG.

“When I knew that I was serious about going into education, and after hearing so many great things about UNCG’s special education program, I knew I would do pretty good here. I’ve had the best support that I could have asked for, not only from my professors, but from my cooperating teachers in each internship,” said Kessinger.

Kessinger, who was also recently honored as a recipient of the 2023 Provost Student Excellence Award, looks back at her time in taekwondo to find the spark that led her to a career in education. By the time she was 12 years old, Kessinger was teaching both children and adults in her martial arts classes.

She said, “This is where I developed the leadership, rapport, and networking skills that I am able to bring into academic settings. I fell in love with teaching at a young age, but I also knew that taekwondo wasn’t going to be ‘it’ for me. During my senior year of high school, I was given the opportunity to assist in physical education classes with the students with moderate-severe disabilities. I paired myself up with the student that came with a forewarning of ‘being too aggressive.’ This student quickly became my best friend in and out of school. After graduation, I figured that combining my love for teaching and my love for supporting those with disabilities would be my best shot at a happy and fulfilling career. Boy, was I right! Since then, every time I’ve stepped foot in a classroom, I’ve felt at home. I’ve taken all of the information I’ve gained and ran with it to best support every student that I interacted with, not only the ones that I worked with day in and day out. My only hope is that every day my students will have gained just as much from me as I have from them.”

Student teaching at Western Alamance High School has delivered many memorable moments for Kessinger, but when asked to select her favorite she recalled tie-dying shirts with her students this year. The students created and sold tie-dye shirts, sweatshirts, mugs, and keychain wristlets in order to raise money for their Occupational Couse of Study program. The moments preparing these shirts outside of the classroom setting allowed Kessinger to get to know her students a little better.

She said, “These were the times where my students and I would just talk, get to know each other, laugh, and provide opportunities to show interest in them outside of their grades in my classes or how they got the answer in math. I will by far remember these fun bonding times over who scored a 100 on a math quiz and who didn’t!”

As she looks to the future, Kessinger has been applying for jobs at high schools around the region. Ideally, she would like to land a position at the new Southeast Alamance High School that would keep her close to the team that supported her during her student teaching. However, she is just excited to get in the classroom to continue helping students.

“Wherever I end up, I’m confident that I will make a difference,” said Kessinger.

In rankings released by U.S. News & World Report on Tuesday, April 25, the UNC Greensboro School of Education (SOE) ranks in a tie for 83rd nationally among Graduate Schools of Education for 2023-2024. Within the state of North Carolina, the UNCG SOE holds the fourth-highest ranking in the same category.

Additionally, the Department of Counseling and Educational Development’s (CED) Student Counseling specialty area has been ranked third in the nation, a jump of six spots from a year ago. With the ranking of third in the nation, CED is the highest ranked graduate education program in the state of North Carolina. The program has been ranked among the top-10 for over 30 consecutive years.

Said Randall Penfield, Dean of the UNCG School of Education, “This year’s rankings continue to speak to the impact on research and practice our programs at UNCG are having on the regional, state, and national levels. These rankings also demonstrate that our commitment to providing students with a transformative educational experience is being recognized at a national level.”

Designed for prospective students looking to further their education beyond college, the Best Graduate Schools rankings evaluate programs in a variety of disciplines, including business, education, engineering, law, medicine and nursing.

SOE programs in School Library Media (8th) and Library and Information Studies (tied for 23rd), part of UNCG’s Department of Library and Information Science (LIS) were also rated among the nation’s best by U.S. News & World Report. Those rankings are announced on a biennial basis.

Prospective students can see how UNCG compares to other institutions and how the rankings are calculated on USNews.com.

​​About U.S. News & World Report

U.S. News & World Report is the global leader in quality rankings that empower consumers, business leaders and policy officials to make better, more informed decisions about important issues affecting their lives and communities. A multifaceted digital media company with Education, Health, Money, Travel, Cars, News, Real Estate and 360 Reviews platforms, U.S. News provides rankings, independent reporting, data journalism, consumer advice and U.S. News Live events. More than 40 million people visit USNews.com each month for research and guidance. Founded in 1933, U.S. News is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

PPEERS 4 Experiences Internship Placement “Reveal” and Celebration

Following a long day of LETRS training for school leaders, PPEERS 4 students learned of their internship sites and mentor principals for Year 2 of the program. Excitement, nervousness, anticipation, and much hype surrounded this event, which was designed as a surprise and a much awaited “reveal” celebration! PPEERS 4 students will begin their full-time, yearlong, 11-month internships on August 1, 2023, and remain as administrative interns through June 30, 2024.

The PPEERS Team attends February NCPFP: Professional Learning Network Series

On Thursday, February 9, the PPEERS Leadership Team accompanied by the PPEERS Leadership Coaches and two recent PPEERS 3 Graduates attended the third installment of the North Carolina Principal Fellow Program: Professional Learning Network Series held in Raleigh, North Carolina on the Campus of North Carolina State University at The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. The topic of this session was “Small Team Collaboration: What Do I Do Now?”

PPEERS 4 March Saturday Seminar: Dr. Mary Hemphill

In our fourth Saturday Seminar on March 4, 2023, the PPEERS 4 Candidates engaged in a half day morning training session: The One-Minute Meeting: Creating Student Stakeholders in Schools, with Dr. Mary Hemphill. Dr. Hemphill is a Leadership Expert and Development Coach, K-16 Educator and Administrator, Author, and Motivational Speaker. 

PPEERS 4 March Saturday Seminar: PPEERS Leadership Coaches Dr. Annie Wimbish, Cindy McCormic, and Dr. Donna Peters

Following the morning session the PPEERS 4 Candidates spent the second half of the day with the PPEERS Leadership Coaches, Dr. Annie Wimbish, Cindy McCormic, and Dr. Donna Peters, of Leadership Solutions Group. The session provided continued opportunities for interns to learn to effectively lead and participate in difficult conversations. The session began with space for interns to reflect on their prior learning in this area, including time previously spent on related assessments, modules, models, and readings.

PPEERS 4 March Saturday Seminar: PPEERS Leadership Coaches Dr. Annie Wimbish, Cindy McCormic, and Dr. Donna Peters

During the afternoon session, PPEERS 4 members deconstructed several scenarios that involved holding difficult conversations. They then met in pairs to discuss how best to proceed when engaging in adult-based conversations. Later, as shown in the bottom pictures, small groups of students also discussed the most impactful curricular methods/materials (e.g., readings, guides, competencies, models, etc.) that they had studied across the semester relative to this important topic.