Guilford County Schools Logo

GREENSBORO  Four schools in Guilford County are set to receive up to $1.5 million each from the state over 3 1/2 years to pursue projects to improve student performance.

Three out of the four schools have Educational Leadership and Cultural Foundations (ELC) alumni and current students in leadership and administrative positions: Dr. Chelsea Smith (Principal at Bessemer Elementary), Katrinka Brown and Yajaira Owens (Principal and Assistant Principal at Jackson Middle School), and Dr. Ashauna Harris and Domieka Cantey (Principal and Assistant Principal at Welborn Middle School).

Each of these schools with ELC alum in leadership roles will earn up to $1.5 million in grants from the state of North Carolina to pursue projects to improve student performance, bringing in a total of $4.5 million in grants to Guilford County Schools. 

Judges gave Bessemer’s proposal the second highest score. “We are ecstatic,” said Dr. Smith, the principal at Bessemer. “We are looking forward to the opportunity to do great things with the funds and make it beneficial to our students.”

Dr. Smith holds a Master’s degree in Education, a Post Master’s in School Administration, an Advanced degree (EdS) in Educational Leadership, and a Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and Cultural Foundations from the UNC Greensboro.

Bessemer has a plan to outfit a full science, technology, engineering and math lab in one of its existing technology labs. Meanwhile, they aim to give a technology upgrade and makeover to the school’s library so that the space becomes centered on helping students find answers to their questions.

They also look to institute training for teachers related to social and emotional learning. Dr. Smith said that’s something that’s not usually emphasized in teacher preparation programs, even though it’s critical.

“It isn’t often that we talk about how to emotionally support a child and help them combat those things that interfere with them learning academic content,” she said.


This article was originally published by the News&Record on January 16, 2020. Read the full article here.

John H Cook Society

Receiving a scholarship can make a huge impact on an aspiring educator’s success at UNC Greensboro. It reduces their student debt and adds a vote of confidence to the belief that they can make a difference in the world. We thank the following members of the John H. Cook Society for adding fund to the following scholarships in the School of Education:

Marlene Cato for her support of students enrolled in the Professions in Deafness program through her gift to the Harlan S. Cato Scholarship Fund.

Pat Glover and Hazel Perritt whose gifts to the Lucille Browne Scholarship in Counseling support students preparing to become school guidance counselors.

Joe Harmon who is honoring his late mother and supporting students wishing to become teachers through his gift to the Virginia Donaldson Harmon Scholarship in Education.

Jennifer and Jake Hooks who honor Jennifer’s grandmother (a graduate of State Normal) and mother (Women’s College) with their gift that supports aspiring teachers to the Carrie Perkins Davis & Katherine Davis Smith Scholarship in Education.

Pat Sickles for supporting undergraduate students preparing for a career in education through her gift to the Patricia Whitley Sickles, Class of 1965 & Barry Riddle Sickles Scholarship in Education, which also honors her late husband.

Learn more: John H. Cook Society

SWIFT Education Center logo

UNC Greensboro will partner with University of Kansas SWIFT Education Center and Cumberland County Schools to support the development of Equity Leaders through the SWIFT Education Center Equity Leadership program. 

These efforts are being led by Dr. Kimberly Kappler Hewitt — Director of Principal Preparation for Excellence and Equity in Rural Schools (PPEERS) at the School of Education — and leadership coaches Dr. Nancy Barbour (Director of NCDPI), Dr. Mark Rumley (Assistant Director of PPEERS), and Dr. Monica Smith-Woofter (previous Superintendent of Northampton County Schools).

Hewitt, Barbour, Rumley, and Smith-Woofter will work with administrators and teacher leaders from selected schools in Cumberland County to build leadership capacity for equity. The project will leverage multi-tiered systems of support to meet the needs of all students in ways that disrupt inequities often experienced by students of color, students experiencing poverty, and students who are differently abled.

“Standards, quality curricula, and strong pedagogy — while necessary — are not sufficient to close the opportunity gaps that burden many students,” states Hewitt. “It is only by disrupting inequities that all students can flourish. This partnership does the important work of building leadership capacity to rework schools to be places where equitable practices become part of the culture and all students can indeed flourish.”  

Over five years, leadership teams from three cohorts of schools in Cumberland County will engage in staggered two-year journeys through the SWIFT Education Center Equity Leadership Program. The program includes a series of two-day trainings and on-site coaching by the SWIFT and UNCG teams. 

Research conducted on the program implementation and impact will be used to inform future equity-oriented leadership development. “What we learn from this project can inform our own leadership preparation programs at UNCG,” Hewitt explains. “It’s exciting that our students will benefit from what we learn from this partnership work with SWIFT and Cumberland.”

Learn more about the Swift Education Center here.

Roy Cooper Logo

RALEIGH: Governor Roy Cooper announced today that North Carolina will receive $56 million in federal funding over the next seven years to support children’s health and well-being, improve access to high-quality early learning for families across the state and invest in the state’s early childhood workforce. The federal funding is one of the state’s largest infusions of new dollars in North Carolina’s early childhood system.

“When all children have the tools they need to succeed, we will have a healthier and stronger North Carolina for generations to come,” said Governor Cooper. “The science is overwhelming that early childhood education and intervention make a significant difference in whether a child succeeds in school and beyond. Every child deserves the best chance to succeed. That means we have to support families, early childhood teachers, and all those who have an impact on early childhood development.”

The new funding comes from two competitive federal grant awards to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS), including a $40.2 million Preschool Development Grant (PDG) from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families and up to a $16 million grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The PDG grant invests in the people who shape young children’s healthy development – parents and early childhood professionals. It will help early childhood teachers build the skills needed to support children’s optimal development without having to leave the classroom. By providing job-embedded professional development and coaching, the grant removes barriers that make it difficult for teachers to pursue higher education.

In addition, the grant funds a partnership with the Smart Start network to expand access to Family Connects, a nurse home visiting program for parents of newborns; support for families as their children transition into kindergarten; and expanded access to high-quality child care for infants and toddlers. This is the state’s second PDG grant. In 2018, the NCDHHS was awarded a one-year $4.48 million PDG planning grant. 

The grant from CMS aims to improve quality of care and reduce costs for Medicaid-insured children (age 0-20 years) by implementing the Integrated Care for Kids (InCK) model. InCK will improve how children receive services by coordinating healthcare and other sectors that support children, such as schools, food, and housing. Medicaid and its partners will design and implement alternative payment models that align incentives for positive health and well-being outcomes for children.

“These two grants are a down-payment on our state’s Early Childhood Action Plan, and also give us opportunities to innovate for the health and well-being of older children,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, MD. “We know it will take all of us working efficiently together in new ways across health, childcare, K-12 education, and child safety, to set our children up for a bright future as North Carolinians.”

The grants build on Governor Roy Cooper’s ongoing efforts to support children and their families and teachers. In 2019 alone, Governor Cooper launched the statewide Early Childhood Action Plan, provided paid parental leave to thousands of state employees, improved pregnancy accommodations in the workplace, and pushed to expand Medicaid so that hardworking North Carolinians, including many parents and early childhood teachers, could access affordable health insurance. 

This story was originally published in the 2019-2020 issue of Transform magazine. Read more stories from Transform here.


There’s a reason universities are often referred to as “the ivory tower.” Too often, the real-life stories, people, and problems that inspire our research questions fall out of focus in the isolation of the archives, laptops, and laboratories where academic work occurs. Specialized conferences and jargon-filled academic journals limit the range of important findings to other specialists in their fields. Yet universities are also spaces for incredible innovation and the fostering of new ideas.

ITI Kickbox 2019 Jeannine Harrell

So how can the university translate research into practical action in our broader communities? How do we provide innovative solutions for the people whose stories and problems inspired our work in the first place?

The Impact Through Innovation initiative (ITI) is the School of Education’s unconventional answer. Through individual and small-group consultation, networking opportunities, and financial investment, ITI helps SOE faculty and students go beyond academia and into communities in need, where they can put their research into practice.

A one-of-a-kind program, ITI offers tailored consulting to work with faculty to re-imagine their research and optimize it for broader social impact. And once a faculty member has conceived of a project, ITI provides support for its development, from conception to testing to expansion.

Take, for example, Professor Noah Lenstra, PhD., of the UNC Greensboro Library and Information Science department. In the course of researching digital literacy and library use among senior citizens, Lenstra discovered that many libraries were starting physical activity programs to support the health of their patrons.

But though Lenstra collected data on such programs as part of his research, he found there was no centralized database for actual library patrons to discover where such programs existed in their communities. Additionally, librarians nationwide had no organized way of sharing resources with each other as they developed active living and health and wellness programs at their individual libraries.

Enter ITI. The initiative helped Lenstra develop a vision plan for a user-friendly website and connected him with a local website designer who built the site to Lenstra’s specifications. ITI awarded the project an Idea Development Award, one of two financial awards available to faculty to facilitate the conception and development of innovative solutions to problems in their fields. While the Idea Starter Award, intended to fund projects at their inception, ranges from $1,000 to $3,000, the Idea Development Award funds projects that are farther along in their development process up to $10,000. Projects can receive both awards as part of their incubation within the Impact Through Innovation initiative.

The result of Lenstra’s partnership with ITI is Let’s Move in Libraries. Now with over 12,000 users, the website translates Lenstra’s research into an easy-to-use resource for library patrons and librarians alike. Library patrons can search a real-time map to find ongoing healthy living programs and events at their local libraries. Librarians across the globe can share or find tips, activities, and initiatives that have worked at other libraries, in addition to the webinars that Lenstra offers.

Lenstra’s project began as a way to collect data for research, but, as Dean’s Fellow of Innovation Scott Young remarked, “by creating something that served a need in the broader world, it was a win for both sides.” ITI’s core mission is to help School of Education faculty and students find precisely this kind of socially-impactful victory in their academic work.

While the financial awards are limited to faculty projects, ITI offers the Kickbox program for undergraduate and graduate courses. Students in courses with Kickbox projects receive resources and guidebooks that follow the same idea development model ITI uses to incubate faculty projects, as well as a $250 pre-paid Visa card. Using the Kickbox resources, students identify a problem and create a project designed to yield an innovative solution.

In a recent School Counseling capstone course that featured a Kickbox assignment, graduate students Genevieve Dubroof, Mary Katherine Scheppegrell, and Brooke Kearney developed a virtual reality, choose-your-own-adventure college tour. Designed for use on virtual reality goggles and iPads, the tour helps high school students who — for financial or geographical reasons — may find it difficult to visit college campuses in person as they consider where to attend. Through a series of questions, the program narrows the field of colleges to a select few that fit the student user’s criteria and allows the user to virtually tour those campuses.

Across each of its services, the Impact Through Innovation initiative is part of the School of Education’s commitment to fostering a culture of innovation and expanding the university’s impact into communities in need. The research is already being done; ITI, Young noted, simply wants to facilitate faculty and students to “think bigger.”


This story was originally published in the 2019-2020 issue of Transform magazine. Read more stories from Transform here.