Congratulations to Dr. Edna Tan, professor in the Department of Teacher Education and Higher Education (TEHE), on being named the second recipient of the Jennifer Smith Hooks ’76 and Jacob T. Hooks Distinguished Professorship in STEM Education.

The professorship, announced in the fall of 2016, is a pivotal component of the UNC Greensboro School of Education’s vision to provide transformative educational experiences, advance research and innovation, and bridge research and practice.

Dr. Tan is a professor of science education in the TEHE department. She was formerly a chemistry and biology secondary school teacher in the Republic of Singapore. Her community-engaged research investigates the design, support, and outcomes of equitable and consequential STEM learning for historically minoritized youth across learning contexts and over time. She has engaged in extensive research and development work with urban schools and communities facing formidable, systemic inequities.

Dr. Tan’s current National Science Foundation (NSF) funded projects include research-practice partnerships with minoritized and recently-resettled refugee youth who are engaging in STEM-rich makerspace work in their communities. She also works with middle school science teachers in co-developing and enacting an “Engineering for Sustainable Communities” curriculum that attends to students’ engineering toward justice-oriented ends.

Dr. Tan engages in collaborative projects nationally, working with co-investigators from the University of Michigan, Rutgers University, Boston University, and the Concord Consortium. Her research has been published in the American Educational Research Journal, Teachers College Record, the Journal of the Learning Sciences, Journal of Research in Science Education, Science Education, among others.

Her co-authored publications was awarded the 2019 Best Paper Award, The Journal of the Learning Sciences, for the paper, “Designing for rightful presence in STEM: Community ethnography as pedagogy as an equity oriented design approach,” and the 2021 Best Article of the Year Award, Journal of Teacher Education for the paper “Rethinking High-Leverage Practices in Justice-Oriented Ways.” In 2020, Dr. Tan was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“I am honored and looking forward to partnering with the Hooks’ in working towards justice-oriented STEM teaching and learning” Dr. Tan said. Read more about her work here.

The Hooks Distinguished Professorship was established by Jennifer and Jake Hooks. Jennifer Smith Hooks ’76 is a third generation alumna of the School of Education.

Jennifer and Jake Hooks have supported the UNCG School of Education for many years, establishing the Carrie Perkins Davis/Katherine Davis Smith Scholarship in Education in honor of Jennifer’s grandmother and mother. In addition, Jennifer Hooks is a member of the School of Education Advisory Board and the UNCG Alumni Board of Directors.

Pictured above, left to right: Jennifer Hooks, Edna Tan, and Jake Hooks.

The U.S. News & World Report released its 2022 ranking for Graduate Schools of Education on March 30, 2021, and the UNC Greensboro School of Education (SOE) has been ranked #73 nationally as a Graduate School of Education, the SOE’s highest ranking on record. Within North Carolina, the UNCG SOE has the third highest ranking among Graduate Schools of Education.

Additionally, Counseling and Educational Development (CED)’s Student Counseling specialty area has been ranked #4 in the nation. The CED department has consistently been recognized as a top graduate education program by the U.S. News & World Report, ranking in the Top 8 list for more than two decades.

“These outstanding rankings not only speak to our impact on research and practice at the regional, state, and national level, they also demonstrate the transformative educational experience provided to our students,” says Randy Penfield, Dean of the UNC Greensboro School of Education.

The U.S. News & World Report rankings and data, published in full on, are based on in-depth reputation and statistical surveys conducted in fall 2020 and early 2021 of each program in the six largest graduate school disciplines (MBA, law, education, engineering, medical, and nursing programs).

Learn more here.

This fall, two Spartans became principals of Greensboro elementary schools that are part of Guilford County Schools. Olivia (Brice) Lattimore ’11, MSA ’20 now serves as principal at Falkener Elementary and Trent Walton ’03 MEd.’10, C ’15 was named the principal at Hunter Elementary.

Lattimore is a double UNC Greensboro alumnus, with a master’s in school administration from the School of Education, as well as a bachelor of science degree in middle grades education. As a graduate student, she was a North Carolina Principal Fellow. She moved to the role of principal after serving as assistant principal at Falkener, and prior to that a middle grades English language arts teacher and digital learning coach. In addition to GCS, she has worked for Orange County Schools and Asheboro City Schools.

Principal Trent Walton ’03 MEd.’10, C ’15

Walton is also a multiple UNCG degree-holder, with a bachelor’s of music education, and a master’s of music in music education from the School of Music and a post-master’s certificate in school administration from the School of Education. As an undergraduate, he was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow. Walton became principal at Hunter Elementary after serving as assistant principal there and at Bethany Community School. Prior to becoming a school administrator, Walton was a middle and high school band director. Additionally, he is a proud graduate of Guilford County Schools. 

UNCG University Communications interviewed the two principals about the start of the year.

What have you looked forward to most about starting the school year, and in the new role of principal?

Lattimore: This school year, I have most looked forward to welcoming students back in the building from the start of the school year. I think this year has the opportunity to feel somewhat “normal” to students and staff with some added enhancements learned so far through the pandemic. Our school theme for the year is “Grow,” and in the new role of principal, I am looking forward to building relationships with staff and students and pushing them to grow in new and unexpected ways. The staff and students are filled with so much optimism at the start of the school year. I look forward to harboring that excitement and transforming it to impact our school community in positive and transformative ways.

Walton: I am really looking forward to seeing our students engaged in learning in the classrooms every day. I am excited to watch students socialize and learn to interact and develop friendships after a year where that was difficult. I want to hear the buzz of learning because it is exciting and something I value as students return to the building. As a new Principal, I am excited to expand the ways I can support teachers and enhance the strong work that is already occurring daily.

What will your school, teachers, and staff focus on while entering another unusual year after the most unusual and unpredictable year in our recent history?

Principal Olivia (Brice) Lattimore ’11, MSA ’20

Lattimore: This year our school focus is all about having a shared mission and vision and aligning our actions to be sure that the work that we do, reflects the shared mission and vision established. While we do not know what challenges await us during this school year, we know that if we are moving forward as a unified school, it will be much more difficult to rock us when situations occur. So, now that we have all of our students back in school, full-time, our goal is to keep them there and engaged in meaningful learning experiences. This year we know that we may experience situations where students and or teachers will need to be out of school for periods of time. A challenge that we may face is keeping the momentum going when students or teachers are no longer able to be in the physical classroom. As a school, we have to determine the plan for how we will ensure learning continues and that we maintain the trust of our families to keep students safe. Many students have not stepped foot in a classroom since March 2020. When students return to school, we have to be sure that we acclimate them to the environment and ease possible anxieties that exist about being back in school, from both the parents and students. Essentially, we are welcoming students back to school and introducing families to our “new normal”. 

Walton: Our primary focus is working to support students, families, and staff with their social emotional needs and helping to foster resilience. We’ve recognized that focusing on learning is difficult when you’re experiencing emotional stress. With that in mind, we are working with a Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum to teach our students how to better identify their emotions and needs and then leverage that information to make choices that improve their day and lead to personal growth. As a staff, we have embraced these same concepts and model this daily for our students.

How did your time at UNCG prepare you for your career and where you are now? What from your time at UNCG did you take with you?

Lattimore: I look back fondly at both experiences that I had in UNCG’s School of Education. Both my undergraduate and graduate experiences thoroughly prepared me for my career in education by providing both sound pedagogical knowledge and practical tips to help me excel in my career. Having the support of the faculty and staff in UNCG’s School of Education, effectively prepared me for leading and supporting innovative, student-centered approaches to education. The interpersonal skills and knowledge of cultural leadership attained at UNCG, has assisted me in collaborating with support staff and community partners to provide targeted support for students and staff. UNCG’s SOE pushed my thinking about the role of the educator and equipped us with tools to become champions for equity in our local school districts. While I owe UNCG for the vast knowledge their programs provided as an undergrad and graduate student, one of the most important things that I took away from my time at UNCG is the community of educators who still support  and challenge one another in our careers years later. 

Walton: My time at UNCG has provided me a broad background knowledge in education that helped me develop my own repertoire of teaching and leadership strategies. I was able to enter the teaching and administrative fields with the confidence that I had the tools in place to succeed, and if I didn’t know something, I knew how to find the information. The School Administration program really emphasized many of the critical elements of the job – principles of leadership, learning and curriculum, special education, education law, and culturally relevant pedagogy.

One of the biggest lessons I took with me is developing relationships. The success of the school is ultimately built around relationships. The professors in the School of Education prepared us for how to communicate, partner, and build cohesion around the work we do. If I didn’t have this knowledge, it would be more difficult to move the school forward.

What motivated you to become a principal?

Principal Trent Walton ’03 MEd.’10, C ’15

Lattimore: I have ALWAYS wanted to be a teacher. Growing up, I admired the educators in my school buildings and I looked forward to becoming just like them when I grew up. As a teacher, I found great joy in seeing those “lightbulb” moments happen in the classroom and I have always believed that a quality education can unlock a world of possibilities. While teaching, I realized that the lightbulb moments in my classroom were not enough; they only benefited a small group of students in the school. I knew that to impact the lives of additional students, I needed to pursue formal leadership positions. I believe ALL students deserve access to high quality instruction and engaging learning experiences. Learning that all students did not have access to those opportunities motivated me to become a principal. I want the school community that I serve to be a place where all students have the opportunity to achieve and unlock a world of possibilities.

Walton: I became a teacher because I wanted to provide musical opportunities for my students and have a positive impact on their lives. Through the years, I became increasingly interested in expanding that impact, which led to becoming an Assistant Principal. My journey to becoming a Principal was motivated by my experiences seeing inequities exist in schools and realizing I wanted the platform to not only identify systemic barriers to education, but to also be able to remove these barriers to education for our students. At the end of the day, I want to know I’ve helped lead an organization that is preparing students to be responsible and productive citizens.

What advice do you have to offer future teachers and aspiring school administrators?

Lattimore: My advice to future teachers and aspiring school administrators is to “remember your why?” There will be many days that one may experience in the profession that may make them forget why they started. Each teacher and school administrator must use their “why?” as a guiding light to keep them focused and headed in the right direction. I would also offer the suggestion to find mentors and be diligent in nurturing the relationships with those mentors. It is very difficult to operate on an island as an educator and expect to be successful. You have a school community, tap into the skills and resources present in your community and never stop learning and growing as an educator. 

Walton: Surround yourself with successful teachers and administrators. Great educators have a repertoire of strategies and you develop this by observing great educators at work. Get into classrooms, shadow teachers and administrators, be curious, ask questions, and build your own repertoire.

What can we all do as a community to support teachers and students right now?

Lattimore: As a community, the best way to support teachers and students right now is to wear a mask and follow the health and safety protocols established by our health agencies. Both teachers and students just want to be in school right now and experience minimal interruptions to the school year. By assisting us in keeping the community healthy and safe, we increase our chances of staying in school for the entire school year. Additionally, teachers need supporters in the community who acknowledge the value of the work that they do each and every day to improve learning and life outcomes for students. It is important to have advocates in the community who can help create productive and safe working and learning environments for teachers and students.

Walton: Let’s start by publicly and consistently acknowledging the value of great educators and their contributions to our society. Educators feeling and hearing the support of their community has a profound impact on their work. Helping to fund school programs or projects or providing school supplies is a great way to financially support education. I also encourage you to look beyond financial support and consider things like mentoring or tutoring students and supporting extracurricular activities. With the development of virtual meeting platforms, these activities can exist online and give students access to the support they need to grow and be successful. Being involved and getting close to the needs of students and teachers creates the understanding needed to truly support education.

Interview by Susan Kirby-Smith, University Communications
Photography courtesy of Olivia Lattimore and Trent Walton

Dr. Holt Wilson, associate professor of Mathematics Education in the Department of Teacher Education and Higher Education (TEHE), recently received new funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the project “Collaborative Research: Co-Designing for Statewide Alignment of a Vision for High Quality Mathematics Instruction [VISIONS].”

The collaboration is between UNC Greensboro and three other UNC System institutions: Appalachian State University, UNC Charlotte, and East Carolina University. The project extends the work of the North Carolina Math Collaborative, a partnership of leaders from the NC Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI), faculty from nine campuses in the UNC System, and leaders from school districts across the state. The partnership it in its sixth year.

The intent of this collaborative research project addresses the Discovery Research PreK-12 program (DRK-12) teaching strand. DRK-12 seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and computer science (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of STEM education innovations and approaches.

This project addresses the DRK-12 teaching strand on three levels: by investigating the instructional visions held by educators across various levels of a state educational system; the ways in which these educators’ visions mediate systemic coherence when implementing STEM innovations at scale; and how resources collaboratively designed to promote a shared vision of high quality mathematics instruction (HQMI) support the development of a shared vision of HQMI across the system.

Ultimately, the researchers aim to develop an empirically supported framework for implementing large scale STEM education innovations. To do so, researchers plan concurrent iterations of the design cycle and research to support their understanding of the nature and perceived coherence visions of HQMI held by multiple stakeholders in the state educational system, how those visions are mediated by co-designed resources, and how they mediate implementation of resources in local contexts.

Learn more about Dr. Wilson’s work here.

The Educational Leadership and Cultural Foundations (ELC) Department’s annual Critical Conversations conference (ELCCC) will take place virtually this year on September 10, 2021 at 5:30 p.m. This year’s theme is Educational Leadership for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion.

Sarah Diem ELCCC speaker 2021 headshot
Dr. Sarah Diem

The purpose of the ELCCC conference is to create dialogue to address the current socio-political climate in the US, and a central goal is for participants to walk away with a set of pedagogical tools to use in their practice. We seek to extend these critical conversations with faculty, students, teachers, educational leaders, and other community members who are interested in having a positive impact on the world.

This year’s keynote speakers and presenters are Dr. Sarah Diem and Dr. Anjalé D. Welton, authors of the award-winning book “Anti-Racist Educational Leadership and Policy.”

Dr. Sarah Diem is Professor at the University of Missouri. She researches the social, political, and geographic contexts of education, focusing primarily on how the politics and implementation of educational policies affect outcomes related to racial equity and opportunity within public schools. She is also interested in the ways in which future school leaders are being prepared to address racism in their school communities.

Anjalé D. Welton ELCCC speaker 2021 headshot
Dr. Anjalé D. Welton

Dr. Anjalé D. Welton is Professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She examines how educational leaders both dialogue about and address race and racism in their school communities. Her research specific to racial equity and justice also considers the role of student and community voice, leadership, and activism in education reform and transformation.

This event is open to members of UNC Greensboro’s School of Education community. If you are interested in joining us for this FREE virtual event, please complete the registration form. Deadline to register is before noon on September 8, 2021.


Friday, September 10, 2021
5:30 – 6:30 pm: Keynote Address by Dr. Sarah Diem and Dr. Anjalé D. Welton
6:30 – 7:00 pm: Q&A Session

Before the event occurs, we will email the Zoom link to those who have registered. Please contact us at should you have any questions.