Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership (KFP)



The 2021-22 cohort of Kenan Fellows consisted of 26 teachers selected from 11 school districts and 2 charter schools; 16 of the teachers were in Title I schools, 22 are female and 4 are male. The breakdown between community type was well balanced, with 9 from rural schools, 9 urban, and 8 mixed.

Funding partners for the Fellowships included GE Aviation, American Zinc Products, the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Cornerstone Building Brands, Meta, Fidelity Investments, the NC and Chowan Farm Bureaus, Biogen Foundation, Duke Energy, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, NC ACCESS Program Grant, and NSF grants to Drs. Paul Maddox and Toshihide Hige. A complete list of the universities, industries, and foundations that provide support for the KFP through funding and/or hosting/mentoring Fellows can be found at and

In June 2021, the KFP returned to in-person learning with the week-long Summer Institute conducted at NCCAT in Cullowhee, NC. The Fall and Spring Institutes in Raleigh were held in person as well, following the Covid protocols that were in place for each location/time. Many of the internship experiences were conducted in person as well, with the exception of a few businesses still requiring remote contact in the summer of 2021.

Impact of the 2021-22 Cohort to Date

The NC State Friday Institute conducts the KFP annual program evaluation. Results for the 2021-22 program will be available in July 2022 in the form of a formal report and executive summary. In addition to this external evaluation, the KFP gathers data regarding the impact that the current cohort of Fellows is having on students, teachers, and other key stakeholders. The impact data reported here reflect activities that occurred from June 2021 – March 31, 2022. At the close of the Fellowship year in May, each Fellow had completed 80 hours of professional development and a three-week internship with their business/industry or university mentor. In addition, the KFP impact log reflects the following activities since they began the Fellowship in June:

  • Over 3,000 Students impacted
  • 172 other educators impacted
  • 242 community business members impacted through presentations
  • $93,607.00 secured in grant funding
  • Laurie McKinney is the Oak Grove High School Teacher of the Year
  • Renata Crawley is the District 8 Elementary Science Teacher of the year for NCSTA
  •  Yetta Williams’ classes won 5 school awards for her community gardens project

Beverly Owens was selected as a UNC World View Fellow, a NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellow, and was accepted to participate in the Global Schools Program. In addition, Beverly’s work was featured as part of National Geographic’s interactive Story Map in honor of World Ocean Day, and she co-authored a guidebook for educators with MakerBot that is free to download.

Selected Articles:

Looking Ahead to 2022-23

The new cohort for 2022-23 consists of 24 Fellows from 18 counties across the state; 5 of the counties are new to the KFP: Swain, Cherokee, Beaufort, Stokes, and Randolph. 15 members of the new cohort teach in Title 1 Schools, 21 are female, 3 are male and 8 are lateral entry teachers. More than half of this cohort are from rural communities and the majority teach in high school or middle school; 5 teach elementary.

The 2022-23 Fellowships are made possible through the generous support of the KFP’s corporate, education, government, and foundation partners including: American Zinc Products (AZP), Biogen Foundation, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Duke Energy, Dogwood Health Trust, Goodnight Educational Foundation, Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology & Science, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives and Randolph EMC, North Carolina Farm Bureau and Stokes County Farm Bureau, NC State University, Meta, and an NSF grant to Dr. Toshi Hige of UNC-Chapel Hill.

The STEMwork Blended Learning Program
The KFP piloted its new blended learning program, STEMwork, in two NC regions in 2021-22: Western North Carolina and the Triangle. The pilot was funded by the Biogen Foundation, the Dogwood Health Trust, and individual contributions. STEMwork utilizes trained KFP alumni as facilitators for small teams of local teachers in a given county or school district. The year-long course consists of visits to local businesses and industries and eight online asynchronous modules that guide the teachers through the process of developing Project Based Learning (PBL) units that they implement in their classrooms. The PBL units link classroom instruction to the local businesses they visited at the beginning of the course.

The primary goal of the pilot was to test and modify the elements of the course as needed in preparation for the first full launch of the project in the 2022-23 schoolyear. Sixteen KFP alums were trained to facilitate the teams of 5 to 6 teachers each, and 71 teachers from the two regions volunteered to participate in the pilot. Participation remained strong through the summer of 2021 when the teams visited (virtually or in person) 14 companies located in the two regions. When the 2021 school year opened with in-person learning, many of the pilot volunteers found themselves overwhelmed with the ongoing responsibilities of teaching within a pandemic environment and withdrew from the program in order to devote their full attention and energy to their classroom responsibilities. At the conclusion of the pilot, 12 teams and 36 participating teachers remained and participated in a symposium held in each region to reflect on the pilot and share experiences. The goals of the pilot were well achieved in that any issues with the course itself were identified and corrected before taking the program to scale. From the pilot, the KFP also learned the value of having teams consist of teachers from the same school or district, and the importance of having district buy-in. The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation was engaged to conduct a thorough evaluation of the pilot and any new data from their follow-up study will also inform the program going forward.

All lessons learned from the STEMwork pilot thus far have been implemented in forming the 19 confirmed teams for the 2022-23 schoolyear. These 19 teams are dispersed across 4 regions of NC:

Eastern: One team each from New Hanover, Craven, Duplin, Pitt, Lenoir, & Martin Counties
Piedmont: One team each from Alamance-Burlington and Moore Counties, and two from Scotland County
Charlotte: One team each from CMS and the Profound Ladies & Gentlemen organization
Western: Two teams from Rutherford, two from McDowell, one each from Buncombe, Henderson, & Cherokee Central Schools located on the Qualla Boundary in Swain County.

STEMwork is not only a new program offering for the KFP, but also a new line of work with a fee-based funding structure. The cost for a school district to support a team is $7500. The 19 teams for the 2022-23 schoolyear are supported in this manor by their district or through philanthropic support from local/regional foundations.

Journal of Interdisciplinary Teacher Leadership (JoITL)

The KFP published an issue of JoITL in 2021 which included seven articles: JOITL Vol. 5, No. 1. A few of those articles were submitted in 2020 but were not published until early 2021.

Since the journal was founded in 2016, the KFP has published articles from 18 universities: UNC-Chapel Hill, Texas Tech University, NC State University, UNC-Greensboro, East Carolina University, University of North Texas, UNC-Charlotte, Walla Walla University, Elon University, Idaho State University, University of Washington, California State University-East Bay, UNC-Wilmington, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Bradley University, Oklahoma State University, Western Kentucky University, and UNC-Pembroke. Articles have also been published from NASA Langley Research Center, The North Carolina Arboretum, Voyager Academy Middle School, EvalWorks L.L.C., and independent researcher, Dr. Rolf Blank.

The Kenan Fellows Alumni Network:

Following is a list of KFP alumni accomplishments in 2021-22:

  • Dayson Pasion was named the teacher advisor to Gov. Roy Cooper. He is the second Kenan Fellow to serve in that capacity under Gov. Cooper;
  • Dr. Jamie Lathan was named Vice Chancellor for Extended Learning by the NC School of Science and Mathematics;
  • Brad Rhew was a recipient of the NCSTA Jo Duckett Wallace Elementary Science Education award;
  • Keith Burgess was recognized as a STEM Teacher of Distinction during halftime at a Carolina Panthers game;
  • Willow Alston-Socha presented two sessions at the NSTA STEM21 Conference. She also partnered with the MLS to offer live virtual field trips once a week. Each session featured behind-the-scenes looks at businesses and STEM practitioners throughout the Triangle, with a focus on how they use science in their work;
  • Pam Lovin, Rachael Polmanteer, Linda Dion, and Michelle Ellis presented sessions at the 2021 virtual Bridging the Gap Conference;
  • Abigail Thompson was awarded a Piedmont Electric Bright Ideas grant to fund water quality projects at her school;
  • David Sander was awarded a total of $2,500 in grants for the implementation of a variety of STEM projects in his classroom;
  • Annah Riedel is participating in the UNC Schools in Parks Collaboratives;
  • Rachael Polmanteer co-authored a paper that was published in NSTA Science Scope;
  • Michelle Ellis and Dr. Jamie Lathan presented at Elevating Voices for Equity, a virtual conversation with BIPOC leaders, focusing on equity in STEM education. Ellis was also a speaker at the 2021 virtual Color of Education Summit;
  • Allie Boyd was named the 2021 NCSTA District 3 Outstanding Science Teacher;
  • Paul Cancellieri spoke at a Wake County Public Schools Board of Education meeting about his experience as a virtual academy teacher;
  • Lauren Boop published an article “Giving Good Bacteria to Chickens to Keep Humans from Getting Sick” with her KFP mentor Dr. Matthew Koci;
  • Kathy Brintle was one of two NC teachers to receive a CHS Foundation Scholarship to attend the National Agriculture Classroom Conference;
  • Carrie Jones was named the 2021-22 chairperson for the National Science Teacher’s Association’s (NSTA) Audit Committee;
  • Michelle Ellis was a featured panelist in an EPA virtual workshop on environmental education;
  • Douglas Price wrote the perspective article “Learning from COVID-19: What teachers told us” for Education NC;
  • Ronda Taylor Bullock, the executive director of WEARE which stands for “working to extend anti-racism education,” spoke to WRAL about her work;
  • Henrietta Jutson presented her Harbor Freight Tools for Schools project at the CTE Conference;
  • Desmond Blackett was recognized by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Board of Education for winning the Microburst EmployABILITY Soft Skills Teacher Appreciation Contest;
  • Michelle Ellis will serve as the President-Elect for the NC Science Leadership Association beginning this summer;
  • Consuelo Johnson presented at FACE Club – EcoCall2020;
  • Shane Barry and his students were featured on WRAL for their efforts to have a solar array installed at their high school, the first of its kind in Wake County;
  • Morgan Beldon and Jennifer Keeler designed lessons for an aquaponics system that has been installed at their school with support from 100 Gardens;
  • Erin Strohschein was featured on WNCT9 for her work to raise money for Craven County Schools during the pandemic;
  • Douglas Price has joined WakeEd Partnership as Director of Programs;
  • Sonja McKay has been named a #TeachSDGs ambassador;
  • Caroline Olson spoke before the NC Board of Education in January 2022 and was named Wake County Teacher of the Year in May 2022;
  • Sheronica Sharp won a $1,000 STEAM mini grant, which is being used to buy 3D pens for students.