2020 – 2021

Education Policy Fellows


Agya Boakye-Boaten

Agya Boakye-Boaten​ earned a Ph.D. in Educational Studies, with an emphasis in Cultural Studies in Education, M.A. in Political Science (International Relations), and M.A. in International Affairs (African Studies) all from Ohio University. He also earned his B.A. (Hons) in Social Work/Administration and Political Science from the University of Ghana, Legon. He has served in several leadership positions in different universities since 2007. Agya is a US Fulbright Scholar (Ghana 2019-2020) and Fellow- Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship (2017). Agya is also an International Scholar as a lifelong member of Phi Beta Delta Honor Society. His research interests include alternative education for street children, building intellectual and creative capacities of students using alternative education strategies, and the use of education as a medium for the promotion of democracy, and Modern-Day Slavery. He has taught various interdisciplinary, International, and Africana studies courses. Additionally, he is interested in decolonial options, construction of African philosophical thought, effects of colonialism on African aesthetics, and the transformation of indigenous cultures through global engagement. Currently, he is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Interdisciplinary/International Studies department at the University of North Carolina at Asheville.


Scott Hopper

Scott Hopper entered the field of education in the fall of 2010 as a secondary mathematics teacher. He has since progressed in the field and have served as an assistant principal for the last 4 years. Most of his career has been in service to the Rutherford County School system which he grew up in; for the past 6 years Scott has served his alma mater, East Rutherford High School, as a math teacher and assistant principal. Prior to his work experience, he studied at UNC-Chapel Hill where he received his bachelor of arts in mathematics in 2009; Scott then completed his masters of education in 2010 at Wake Forest University, and in 2016 he completed the principal licensure program through Appalachian State University. Over the past 10 years his experience in education has given him opportunities to teach all levels of mathematics from NC Math 1 to AP Calculus BC. In his current role as an assistant principal Scott has served as testing coordinator, master scheduling coordinator, and numerous other roles that have given him insight into how education works at the school and district level. He looks forward to learning more about the educational procedures at the state and national level through this program. Scott currently lives in Shelby, NC with his wife, Kristin and two children, Evan and Emilia.

Margaret McKinny

Margaret McKinny​ is serving her 24th year as a North Carolina educator.  She received her Associate of Arts degree in Middle Grades Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  Upon graduation, her first teaching job was at Liberty Middle School in Morganton, North Carolina as a seventh-grade math teacher.  During her three years at Liberty Middle, Margaret began pursuing my Master’s degree in Middle Grades Education from Appalachian State University and later returned to Appalachian to complete a Master’s degree in Administration.  She has been fortunate enough to return to her educational roots and serve the students of Rutherford County Schools for the past 21 years as a National Board Certified teacher, assistant principal, and currently as Director of Secondary Education.  She has had the privilege of representing Rutherford County as North Carolina’s Western Region Teacher of the Year in 2002.  This opportunity opened many doors for Margaret to be an active participant in educational leadership across the state.  One of her most enjoyable roles as an educational leader was serving on the North Carolina Professional Teachers Standards Commission for several years.

Wren Millsaps

Wren Millsaps has been teaching for ten years. He has taught middle school ELA at Cullowhee Valley and high school English at Swain County and Robbinsville. Wren has taught all grade levels in high school and also has a certificate in history. He was the Graham County Schools Teacher of the Year in 2019. His greatest goal as a teacher is to give students high interest reading materials and he hopes that he can inspire a love for reading in some each year.  He coaches both JV football and middle school and varsity wrestling. Wren takes great pride in the young men and women that their programs have developed. His wife Tiffany and his two year old daughter Hadley are his entire life and a reason that he strives to do the best in all that he does.

Maggie Murphy

Maggie Murphy is a passionate teacher with 12 years of experience. She loves her job, and enjoys bringing enthusiasm and excitement to her classroom. She and her students build relationships that are lasting. They use curriculum to grow academically, and use kindness and love to grow as individuals. They are world changers! Maggie is a mother to an amazing little girl, an avid reader and writer, an adventurer, and a proud community member. She loves living in the rural hometown she grew up in and is blessed to teach at the elementary school she attended: Piney Creek Elementary. That’s where her educational dreams began. Maggie is honored to represent Alleghany County Schools and her region as the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Northwest Region Teacher of the Year for 2020.

David Peyton

David Peyton​ is an Assistant Professor of Special Education at Appalachian State University. His research focuses on policies and practices that impact teacher preparation and teaching quality. Prior to his post at Appalachian State University, he completed his PhD at the University of Florida, where he was funded under an Office of Special Education Programs Leadership Grant. While at the University of Florida, Dr. Peyton focused on policies tangential to special education teacher preparation, including the teaching pipeline, shortages of special education teachers in rural areas, and pedagogical approaches to improving instructional quality of novice teachers. In addition, he supported an Institution of Educational Sciences grant which examined special education teaching quality through varied lenses of effective teaching practices. In his current position, Dr. Peyton aims to recalibrate his focus from a national perspective to one that is localized and focused on the needs of North Carolina broadly and the communities of western North Carolina specifically.

Seth Prevette

Seth Prevette is an Accountant and CPA. He has served as the Chief Finance Officer for Wilkes County Schools, the school system he attended as a child, for 6 years. Previously he worked for a Fortune 50 company and also worked in Public Accounting. That being said he has a fairly broad range of experience in business and can vouch that they do things quite differently in Education Finance. At this point he is hoping to make a career of his current position and hopes that over the 20+ years he has left, he will be able to make an impact on his children’s education and maybe even his children’s children. On a personal note, Scott feels very fortunate to hold the position he does in his hometown. He is able to live and work where he has a lot of family and friends. Scott is married to his high school sweetheart Lindsey and they have 2 children. Macanna Kate is 8 and Walker David is 5. Now, he is getting to see “Education” from a parent’s perspective.

Dr. Hannah Reeder

Dr. Hannah Reeder is the Director of Clinical Education in the Reich College of Education at Appalachian State University. She oversees field experiences for the 18 undergraduate teacher education programs. Prior to serving in this role, she taught elementary education methods courses and educational assessment courses in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at Appalachian State University. Dr. Reeder started her career as an elementary school teacher before becoming an assistant principal and subsequently moving into higher education. She earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis from East Tennessee State University. She also holds an M.A. in Curriculum & Instruction and a B.S. in Elementary Education, both from Appalachian State University.

Dr. Betsy Rosenbalm

Dr. Betsy Rosenbalm, a National Board Certified Teacher, began her career as an elementary classroom teacher in 2001. She taught 2nd, 4th and 5th grade before becoming an elementary reading specialist and school level instructional coach. She continued her career as an assistant principal in an elementary school, and then became the principal of Conover School for four years. After that, she served as the Director of Exceptional Children and Communication Services, with additional responsibilities as a Testing Director, 504 Coordinator, and ESL Coordinator for a total of 4 years before becoming a NC New Teacher Support Program (NT NTSP) Coach and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Reading Education and Special Education at Appalachian State University in 2017. In 2019, Dr. Rosenbalm became the Director of the Public School Partnership and Regional Director of the NC NTSP in the App State Region. She was a NC Teaching Fellow in her undergraduate program at Appalachian, a top four finalist for Iredell-Statesville Schools’ Teacher of the Year in 2006, and the Newton-Conover and NC Region 7 Principal of the Year in 2012-2013. Her undergraduate and graduate degrees were obtained from Appalachian State University in 2001, 2005, and 2008, and her Educational Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction was obtained from Gardner-Webb University in 2012. Betsy’s three young daughters are her pride and joy!

Rachel Shepherd

Rachel Shepherd is an assistant principal at Watauga High School in Boone, NC. She serves as the school test coordinator, coordinates professional development, and facilitates the beginning teacher program. She is a former high school history and English teacher and instructional technology facilitator. Rachel holds a Master’s degree in Educational Media from Appalachian State University and a Master’s certificate in School Administration from Gardner-Webb University. She is also a National Board Certified teacher. Rachel is currently a doctoral candidate at East Tennessee State University in the Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis program. She is married to Brandon, a law enforcement officer, and they have four children, ages 14, 9, 4, and 2. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and scuba diving.

Monica Shepherd

Dr. Monica Shepherd serves as the Regional Education Facilitator (REF) for the Northwest Region of the state. Her role as a REF is part of the District and Regional Support division at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. As a graduate of Appalachian State University, she began her career in education as a teacher. She has taught at the elementary, high school, and collegiate levels. After receiving a Masters in School Administration from Gardner-Webb University, she served as an administrator. With a desire to continue her education, she graduated with a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Gardner-Webb University. She loves her position with NCDPI and enjoys supporting the school systems and charter schools in Northwest North Carolina. Beginning teacher support is one of Monica’s passions and she collaborates with systems and charter schools to meet the needs of novice teachers through Beginning Teacher Support Program development, program monitoring, data analysis, technical assistance and peer review, as well as facilitating trainings and professional development for beginning teachers and their mentors.

Ike Smith

Mr. Ike Smith has worked for ten years as an educator in various roles throughout North Carolina. Mr. Smith taught English at Pamlico County High School (2009-2010), New Bern High School (2010-2011), and Craven Early College (2011-2014) before serving as the Director of Instructional Support Services for Watauga County Schools until August 2019. In this role, he coordinated gifted education, school libraries, and instructional technology, assisted in implementing a multi-tiered system of supports, and helped develop the Watauga County Schools Strategic Plan. Currently, Mr. Smith works in the Reich College of Education at Appalachian State University as the Director of the James Center for Student Success and Advising, which supports the success of all Appalachian teacher education students through advising, professional development, and student engagement. Mr. Smith continues to teach, now as an adjunct instructor working with pre-service teachers on topics including instructional technology, teacher leadership, and media literacy. Ike also enjoys drumming, community theatre, coffee, board games, podcasts, vinyl, and spending quality time with his wife, Jewel, and their dog, Harper.

Colby White

Colby White is a 2010 Graduate of Robbinsville High School and a 2014 Graduate of Western Carolina University. He was fortunate enough to be a North Carolina Teaching Fellow while at WCU. He currently teaches high school mathematics at RHS. His hobbies include coaching football, coaching wrestling, reading (on occasion), and playing with his 18 month old daughter. 

Central Cohort

Laura Abraham

Laura Abraham is a proud elementary school teacher in the Wake County Public School System. She graduated from the University of Virginia with her Bachelor’s in Spanish, a Math Minor, and her Masters in Teaching. Laura is in her ninth year teaching and has found new challenges and joys in teaching students in kindergarten, second grade and fourth grade. Laura is passionate about equity and building brave, inclusive classroom and school communities. She believes that race, gender, socioeconomic status and other common predictors should not be a determinant of students’ success in school, and she is working alongside other teachers at her school and within the county to disrupt systems and reimagine schools. Laura was a Teacher of the Year Finalist in Wake County Public Schools during the 2017-2018 school year. She is currently a member of a county-wide K-12 cohort working to identify best practices and provide professional development around culturally responsive teaching. She also supports math curriculum and assessment writing for the county.

Tawannah Allen

Tawannah G. Allen is an associate professor of Educational Leadership in the Stout School of Education at High Point University. She is also a member of Bridges2Success (B2S), a research and development lab engaged in basic and applied research, focusing on the educational plight of K-20 students of color. As a B2S scholar, Dr. Allen designs and facilitates professional development trainings on the opportunities and access to post-secondary education for underrepresented students, stereotyping and implicit biases, and the impact of trauma on academics. Prior to joining High Point University, Dr. Allen served as an associate professor and doctoral program coordinator at Fayetteville State University. Before entering into higher education, Dr. Allen worked in K-12 education, holding administrative posts with Wake County Public Schools as a Human Resources Administrator; as the Executive Director of Teacher Recruitment and Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources with Bertie County Schools; and as the Director of Elementary Education and Professional Development with Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. Prior to performing these administrative roles, she was a kindergarten teacher, assistant principal, and principal, in addition to, a speech-language pathologist.

Tracy Avery

Tracy Avery is in his sixth year of school administration and fifth year as assistant principal of Lynn Road elementary. He has been in education for a total of 15+ years with a daily intention to build relationships and connect with students. Mr. Avery taught for 1 year in a public charter school and 7 more in county schools. He was a first and third grade teacher for years before deciding to extend his influence in educational leadership. As a teacher in Saxapahaw, NC and Durham, NC, Mr. Avery’s entire teaching experience has taken place in varying elementary settings. He has had the experience of working in magnet schools, as well as in rural and urban environments. Tracy received his undergraduate degree from North Carolina Central University with a bachelor’s in Elementary Education and most recently a Master’s in School Administration. In 2009, Tracy returned to North Carolina from Chicago, where he recieved a Master’s of Arts degree in Learning Sciences from Northwestern University. He continues to be a lover of learning and looks forward to creating and maintaining spaces in which students and staff can continue to thrive. He has a passion for traveling, reading, and understanding the social dynamics of individuals.

Jeff Batten

Dr. Jeff Batten’s career began when he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. After graduating in 1992, he conducted research on gravity sensing organs of newts at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. He received master’s (1997) and doctor of philosophy (2002) degrees in Plant Pathology & Microbiology from Texas A&M University. He went on to conduct postdoctoral research on the biochemistry of viruses at North Carolina State University.  In 2004, he became a middle school science teacher at Hawley Middle School in Granville County, NC. Jeff was recognized as the 2014-2015 Teacher of the Year at Hawley Middle School. He explored teaching opportunities outside of his middle school classroom including teaching LEGO robotics as part of the county’s STEM summer camp in 2015; developing/teaching classes on rocketry and human body systems as  Duke TIP instructor from 2010-2012; and teaching environmental science and biology as an instructor for the University of Phoenix from 2011 to 2015. Jeff has also served as a mentor, team leader, soccer coach, and substitute bus driver. Jeff completed a Master of School Administration degree in May 2020 through the award-winning North Carolina State Principal Preparation Program. As part of the program, he served as Principal Resident at JF Webb High School in Oxford, NC. Currently, Jeff is an Assistant Principal at South Granville High School in Creedmoor, NC.

Marisa Bryant

Marisa Bryant brings a wealth of knowledge from the non-profit sector to the Public School Forum of North Carolina, having served as volunteer, employee and board member for many local nonprofits. Marisa served as President of the Junior League of Raleigh, Major Gifts Coordinator for Urban Ministries of Wake County, as Membership Coordinator for Triangle Land Conservancy, and in several development roles at UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University Medical Center. Marisa is also a trained Community Action Poverty Simulation facilitator. Marisa coordinates and advances the Forum’s individual and corporate giving, including sponsorships for the Forum’s four signature events: Eggs and Issues, Synergy Conference, the Jay Robinson Education Leadership Awards Gala and the Color of Education Summit. Marisa also manages grants for the Forum. Marisa received a BS in Political Science from Elon College and a Masters in Public Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Donna Dodson

Donna Dodson is a Lead Beginning Teacher Mentor in Durham Public Schools.  She began her career in education in 2000 where she taught middle school math for 11 years in Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. She has been in Durham Public Schools since then where she was the State Testing Coordinator for two years before becoming a Full-Release Mentor working with beginning teachers. Donna is now one of the Lead Mentors for the beginning teacher support program, mentoring beginning teachers as well as administering the beginning teacher support program for the district. She holds a B.S. in Secondary Education and Mathematics and Masters of Divinity with a focus on social justice and theology; both from Vanderbilt University. In addition, Donna has earned AIG Certification through Duke University and recently renewed National Board Certification. Donna began partnering with LATP, now Central Carolina Teaching Initiative, in 2017 to support the alternative license teachers in Durham Public Schools.

Alex Dreier

Alex Dreier is the Instructional Design Lead and Research Scholar at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. He has over 15 years of experience in designing learning environments that meet the needs of all students, specifically initiatives around social and emotional learning, learning differences, competency-based learning for educators, digital learning, and more. Alex is currently the PI on a multi-year, million dollar Oak Foundation grant that supports educators in creating learning environments to support all of their students. He is also the Co-PI on a NSF-Funded project to create an personalized professional learning portal for teaching statistics. Prior to this, Alex spent five years managing the Friday Institute’s MOOCs-for-Educators initiative, which continues to meet the needs of a global audience of tens of thousands of educators using research-based practices for professional learning. Before coming to the Institute, he managed the online training courses for EdTech Leaders Online at Education Development Center (EDC), helping build the capacity of organizations to build and support their own online learning programs. Alex holds a B.A. from Tulane University and an Ed.M. in Technology, Innovation, and Education from Harvard University.

Dr. Callie Edwards

Dr. Callie Womble Edwards is an Educational Researcher with a multidisciplinary background in public health, workforce development, learning outcomes assessment, and program evaluation. She holds a Ph.D. in Educational Research and Policy Analysis from North Carolina State University (NCSU) and a M.P.H. in Health Behavior from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since 2018, Dr. Edwards has served as a Research Associate at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, where she evaluates educational initiatives using quantitative and qualitative methodologies. She currently serves on six Friday Institute research and evaluation projects and is the Project Lead for four of those projects, including one multi-district evaluation and three multi-school evaluations. As Project Lead, she is responsible for planning, management, and day-to-day operations, and she is also the main point of contact for the internal NCSU team, external partners, and clients. A major aspect of Dr. Edwards’ work is developing and maintaining effective research-practice partnerships (RPPs) with schools and districts. She also directs the Friday Institute’s inaugural Educational Research and Evaluation Internship Program for undergraduate students. Recently, Dr. Edwards was nominated for the 2020 NC State University Award for Excellence, the most prestigious honor bestowed upon non-faculty employees. Prior to joining the Friday Institute, she served as a Research Specialist at the North Carolina Department of Commerce, and a Research Assistant in the Office of Assessment at NCSU.

Amanda Fratrik

Amanda Fratrik works as a Fiscal Analyst in education for the North Carolina General Assembly. She started her career as a high-school physics teacher in the School District of Philadelphia through Teach For America. She then returned to rural Lumpkin County, Georgia to teach 6th grade earth science. She received her Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Pennsylvania and her JD from Harvard Law School. She is also a proud graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she received her bachelor’s degree in physics. She clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit for the Honorable Harris Hartz. She currently lives in Durham, NC. She looks forward to engaging with educators and policymakers through this fellowship.

Dr. Eric Grebing

Dr. Eric Grebing is a Project Director at the SERVE Center at UNC Greensboro, working at the regional office near his home in Durham, NC. Much of Eric’s work involves programs to support successful student transitions from high school to postsecondary education. His main projects at the SERVE Center involve data analysis, research, evaluation, and consulting for a variety of educational initiatives across North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, and Texas. Prior to joining SERVE, Eric taught high school math and science in rural, northeastern North Carolina. He also led research and development at an education non-profit in North Carolina. Drawing from these experiences, Eric enjoys helping teams better understand their impact through data analysis, utilization, and visualization and to gain insight for improving educational outcomes. Eric holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Concordia University, and a Ph.D. in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis from North Carolina State University.

Karen Jones

Karen D. Jones, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at East Carolina University. She also serves as the Program Coordinator for the Master of School Administration Program. Previously, Dr. Jones was an elementary teacher, special education teacher and English as a second language teacher. She also worked as a behavior specialist before becoming a campus administrator. Dr. Jones has presented at state, national and international education conferences. Publications include articles in peer-reviewed journals and book chapters. Her research agenda focuses on preparing school administrators to be successful in diverse school communities.

Wendy Kraft

Wendy Kraft has had the privilege of serving in many roles during her 22 years in public education.  While she began this journey teaching Kindergarten, she has also taught middle school math/science and continue to teach developmental math at the Community College level.  Additionally she has served as a district Professional Development Coach/Trainer/Mentor, a district Supervisor for Online Learning, and an Interim Principal.  Wendy’s current role as an Instructional Director for NC Virtual allows her to support teachers and students at the middle and high school levels as they partner with public and non-public schools across North Carolina!

Dawn Meskil

Dr. Dawn Mendonca Meskil is currently serving as a Preschool Exceptional Children (619) Co-Coordinator with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction Office of Early Learning. In this role she supports cross sector state collaborations and provides support to local school districts to ensure all young children with disabilities have access to a high quality early childhood education. Dawn began her career 22 years ago as an Early Head Start teacher, home visitor and coordinator. She later served as a state consultant and as an assistant director of a regional office with the North Carolina Infant and Toddler Program. She spearheaded the creation of the first public Montessori school in Western North Carolina and most recently served as the Preschool Program Director with Asheville City Schools. She earned a Birth-Kindergarten degree from Appalachian State University, an MSW from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from East Tennessee State University. Dawn lives in Marshall, North Carolina with her husband, daughter and their team of four-legged family members.

Jennifer Nobles

Jennifer Nobles is currently serving as the Director of Curriculum at the North Carolina Virtual Public School. She is a 20+ year veteran to education and has been employed with NC Virtual since 2007. Jennifer served in many roles at NC Virtual including a school support consultant, a credit recovery specialist, and an Instructional Director prior to serving as the Director of Curriculum. Before joining NC Virtual, Jennifer taught mathematics in Wake, New Hanover, and Cumberland Counties. Jennifer began her online teaching career with the Cumberland County Web Academy in 2003. She earned a BS from NC State University and a MA from Appalachian University. She is passionate about creating learning environments that meet the needs of all learners. She lives in Fayetteville, NC with her family

Jeanie Owens

Jeanie Owens is proud to serve as the 5th-grade teacher at Ocracoke School in Hyde County. Originally from Abingdon, Virginia, Jeanie earned her Bachelors with Honors in History and German from Radford University and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction from Virginia Tech. In 2019 she received her Graduate Certificate in School Leadership from Appalachian
State University. Jeanie has taught in a variety of classroom settings over her twenty-year career including at the university, high school, middle school, and elementary levels. Jeanie moved from the New River Valley in Virginia to Ocracoke Island in 2014 where she became the school’s 4th-grade teacher. Along with her classroom responsibilities, Jeanie also serves
Ocracoke School as the School Improvement Chair, the Testing Coordinator, and the Lead AIG teacher. Jeanie values and admires the resilience of the Ocracoke community. She acts as
Secretary for the Ocracoke Preservation Society Board and has published a book on the history of Ocracoke through Arcadia Publishing. Jeanie was recently named the Richard A. Schwartz Honored Educator Scholar for 2020-2021 by the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching. She is honored to be the 2020 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Northeast Region Teacher of the Year. Her passion for equitable education lies in building TRUST between teachers and students through teamwork, relationships, understanding of self, feeling safe and secure, and working with tenacity. Jeanie believes that resiliency through service is at the heart of the teaching profession.

Amber Parker

Amber Parker is the Director of Outreach and Support at North Carolina Virtual Public School. In her current role, she is responsible for evaluating policies, procedures, and proposals in the planning and development of innovative educational programs and projects. She also provides leadership for communications, support, and outreach to schools and districts. She has over 13 years of higher education experience in both professor and administrator roles. Prior to her current role with NC Virtual, she was the Department Chair of Educational Technologies and Computer Science programs at Johnston Community College, where she oversaw distance education, campus technologies, computer courses, and accessibility. Amber earned both her Bachelor of Science in Business Education and Information Technology and Master of Science in Instructional Technology degrees from East Carolina University. She is passionate about online education and equity of access for all students.

Dawn Ramseur

Dawn Ramseur, Ed.D, is the Executive Director of Digital Teaching and Learning for Hoke County Schools. She began her teaching career as a High School Science Teacher, served as an assistant principal for a year, and a principal for 7 years at the elementary level.  She has served in her current role as the district’s technology lead for the past 6 years working on everything from infrastructure upgrades to establishing blended learning frameworks. Dawn earned her B.S. in Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her MSA and Ed.D. from Fayetteville State University.

Shayla Rexrode

Shayla Rexrode is an Education Solution Architect with Lenovo. As an Education Solution Architect, much of her time is spent researching, developing and implementing innovative education solutions that transform teaching and learning. She began her career in the classroom and has thus since spent the past 20 years working for organizations that support a shared vision for providing equitable solutions to promote and sustain teaching and learning for all students.  In addition to her experience in the classroom, she has served as a district administrator, digital consultant with SMART Technologies, an Education Partnership Manager with Discovery Education and most recently as a Senior Research Scholar with the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. Her experience working with teachers, administrators and superintendents has allowed her to better support effective personalized and digital learning cultures that meet the needs of every student. Shayla has led customized professional learning opportunities for teachers, coaches, and school and district leaders, while also engaging with district and school leaders to strategically plan for the transition to personalized and digital learning.  

Daniel Scott

Daniel Scott is a graduate of Western Carolina University where he received a BM in Trombone Performance and a minor in Bassoon, as well as a BS.Ed with a minor in psychology, concentrating on adolescent development. Daniel is currently the Director of Bands at Swansboro High School in Swansboro, NC. In a little under 4 years, the size of band program at Swansboro High has increased by 150% and has quickly become a program of distinction in the Southeast Region of the State. Under his direction, the Swansboro Concert and Jazz Programs have received consistent superior ratings at music performance adjudications and students have shattered school records by increasing the number of students to make District and Regional honor bands by 400% and the number of students to make the North Carolina All State Band by 200%. In 2019 Daniel was named the Swansboro High School Teacher of the Year, the 2019-20 Onslow County Teacher of the Year, and most recently the 2020 Burroughs Wellcome Fund Southeast Regional Teacher of the Year.

Tonya Smith

Tonya Smith is beginning her 24 th year as a music educator at Elkin High School and Elkin Middle School in Elkin City Schools where she has taught instrumental and vocal music as well as general music. Tonya is currently the 2020 Burroughs Wellcome fund Piedmont Triad Region Teacher of the Year. She has served on the school improvement team, has co-hosted the Surry County Honors Chorus, is the senior class musical director and has served as a Project Based Learning Cohort member. Tonya has led professional development on the topic of using the practice of Mindfulness in the Classroom. Additionally, Tonya has served as an NCVPS professional development facilitator. Most recently, she was selected and has been participating in the Go Global Australia program as well as the Elkin City Schools Global Education cohort. The most enjoyable part of her teaching career is forming relationships with students and their families. She incorporates SEL lessons in her teaching as well as expanding student knowledge of other cultures through music.

Amie Snow

Amie Snow is the Director of Curriculum and Instruction at the AppState Academy at Middle Fork, one of the UNC System’s Lab Schools. She graduated with a BA in Elementary Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2002. She received her MA in Reading Education and her EdD from Appalachian State University in 2006 and 2014. She is currently pursuing her MPA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has taught Kindergarten-5th grade students and has been an Instructional Facilitator for Ibraham Elementary in WSFCS before becoming the Director of Curriculum at App Academy in 2018. She loves helping children learn to read and supporting her teachers as they do their amazing work. Her one publication, Evaluating the Effectiveness of a State-Mandated Benchmark Reading Assessment: mClass Reading 3D, focused on the importance of effective, timely assessments to support teacher and student needs. She lives in Kernersville, North Carolina with her husband Scott, town manager of Walkertown, her daughter Emma, 4th grader at Piney Grove Elementary, and their Australian Cattle Dog, Jack.

Maureen Stover

Maureen Stover is the 2020 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year. Prior to her position as the NCTOY, she taught Biology, Earth and Environmental Science, and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) at Cumberland International Early College High School in Fayetteville. Maureen has taught at the elementary, middle and high school levels and worked as an educational consultant for the National Science Teaching Association. She earned a B.S. in Biology from the United States Air Force Academy, Class of 1997, a M. Ed. in STEM Curriculum and Instruction from Adams State University, and a M.A. in Secondary Science Teaching from Western Governors University North Carolina. Prior to becoming a teacher, Maureen served as an Intelligence Officer in the United States Air Force.

Dr. Mary Styers

Mary Styers, Ph.D. is an Applied Researcher at LearnPlatform. She possesses over a dozen years of experience in education research and preK-16 curriculum evaluation, having worked with curriculum providers, states, districts, and schools across the country. Dr. Styers has led and supported curriculum efficacy and effectiveness studies and written foundational research reviews and white papers for K-12 products. She believes in the importance of making research accessible, and has presented on educational research or research methodology at conferences or workshops designed specifically for K-16 educators and has developed professional learning opportunities for educators on conducting applied research. She is excited to participate in the North Carolina Education Policy Fellowship Program in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of educational policy, so that her work and collaborations with educators are more responsive to the lived realities of K-12 education in North Carolina. Dr. Styers has a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from North Carolina State University.

Kevin Uy

Kevin Uy is the sales operations manager at LearnPlatform. He began his career as a high school math and engineering teacher in the New Orleans area, before transitioning to an educational technology sales role at LearnPlatform. As LearnPlatform grew, he took on the role of organizing the sales structure, including Salesforce and other sales enablement systems. Kevin has a particular interest in diversity, equity and inclusion within the education space, and has led the formation of the DEI Council at LearnPlatform. His education includes a mechanical engineering degree from Johns Hopkins University and a master’s degree in education from Binghamton University. Kevin has an avid interest in elections, working as a precinct chief judge in Wake County, and encourages everyone to make a plan to vote!

Felisha Whitaker

Dr. Felisha A. Whitaker is a District Literacy Specialist and Middle School Coordinator for Granville County Public Schools. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Elizabeth City State University and both her Master of School Administration and Doctor of Education degrees from East Carolina University. She has been an educator for over 25 years. After teaching English for ten years in Edgecombe and Northampton County Schools, she received the NC Principals’ Fellows scholarship and completed a master’s degree in School Administration and Curriculum and Instruction. Dr. Whitaker has worked as a principal at the elementary, middle, and high school level. Her greatest work and accomplishment as a school administrator was working with wonderful, dedicated teachers and staff to turn around low performing schools. Her experience also includes being Director of Secondary Education, Testing and Accountability, Student Services, and Title I. She has received  certifications in the following areas: English Language Arts (9-12); National Board for Professional Teaching Standards in Adolescence and Young Adulthood (AYA); Curriculum and Instruction, School Administration (K-12); and Superintendent (K-12). Being an educator is not only her passion, but it is her life’s calling. She believes that all children are unique-there is something special about each of them. As an educator, she must ensure equity in education for all students by providing them with the necessary tools they need for success and by promoting the academic, physical, social, and emotional growth and well-being of all students. “If you are planning for a year, sow rice; if you are planning for a decade, plant trees; if you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.” Chinese proverb

Dr. Ann White

Dr. Elizabeth Ann White currently serves as the Assistant Superintendent of Programs for Exceptional Children in Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.  Her focus is providing leadership, support, and oversight to increase effective programming and quality instruction for students with disabilities.  During her 27 years as a public school employee, Ann served in Hickory Public Schools as a teacher, principal, and Director (Accountability and Curriculum and Instruction).  In 2015, she joined Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools as an Executive Director supporting school leaders. Ann has also served as an adjunct professor at Winthrop University teaching aspiring principals.  Her passion for public education relates to addressing issues of equity for students and supporting/coaching school leaders.  
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