January 2014: NC New Teacher Support Program Newsletter

Happy New Year from the NC NTSP!

Happy New Year and all the best to you, your teachers, students, and colleagues as you begin the spring semester.

It has been a pleasure to work with many of you to support your beginning teachers and others as we collaborate to improve outcomes for students and teachers in North Carolina. We are grateful for the trust you have placed in the NC New Teacher Support Program (NC NTSP).

As we reach the mid-point in the year we would value any comments or suggestions to improve our work. We will be a more productive partner if we continue to have open lines of communication and a clear vision of your needs and instructional goals.

I may be reached via email, ekcunningham@northcarolina.edu, or telephone, 919.966.9523, and look forward to hearing from you.



Research Spotlight

In December, the Public School Forum of North Carolina’s Center for Afterschool Programs (NC CAP) released its annual Roadmap of Need, an assessment of the well-being of North Carolina’s children. NC CAP examined 20 indicators of wellness across four domains – health, youth behavior and safety, education, and economic development.

According to the report, the five top counties where young people have the greatest likelihood for success are Orange, Union, Wake, Cabarrus and Camden. The bottom five where young people are most at-risk are Anson, Halifax, Northampton, Edgecombe and Robeson. The makeup of the top 5 is unchanged from last year, while Northampton replaced Scotland County in the bottom 5 this year.

The authors note the following: “Our state is becoming two North Carolinas – one populated by young  people living in areas that are attracting jobs and industry, and another populated by young people living in communities in a state of economic decline. At first glance, the Roadmap points to counties in eastern North Carolina as those most at-risk. However, the nature of county-wide indicators often masks the variation occurring within counties, particularly our most populous urban counties where neighborhoods that alone would fare well on the Roadmap indicators exist in close proximity to neighborhoods with many young people in need.”

The NC CAP 2014 Roadmap of Need is available for download at http://www.ncforum.org/roadmap-of-need


District Highlights: Duplin County Schools, ECU Region

The East Carolina University Region of the NC NTSP currently serves 26 total beginning teachers in one high school, one middle school, and two elementary schools within Duplin County Schools. Those schools include Chinquapin Elementary School (K-8), E.E. Smith Middle School (6-8), James Kenan High School (9-12), and Warsaw Elementary School (K-5). The district Beginning Teacher Support Coordinators worked closely with the NC NTSP to identify schools that would most benefit from the additional partnership and support of the NC NTSP. The NC NTSP and Duplin County work together to ensure beginning teachers are receiving the services that will best enable them to grow personally and professionally in service to their students.

Ann Hardy, principal at Warsaw Elementary School, was recognized as Principal of the Year during the 2013-14 school year. Ms. Hardy has worked closely with her NC NTSP Instructional Coaches to ensure that her beginning teachers, currently 9 served by the NC NTSP, and their students succeed in Duplin County.

As a part of their engagement in a Pre-K to College Initiative, in partnership with James Sprunt Community College and the NC New Schools Project, the district is committed to a “pervasive, transparent, and consistent understanding that school exists for the purpose of preparing all students for college and work.” One outward sign of this belief is the display of a UNC institution logo adopted by each Duplin County school.

Duplin County is well-known for its diverse heritage and agricultural strength. Student demographics are 35 percent Caucasian, 38 percent Hispanic/Latino, 24 percent African-American, and 2 percent Multi-Racial. The Pre-K to College Initiative is designed, in part, to “maintain a common set of high standards for every student to overcome the harmful consequences of tracking and sorting.”


Extraordinary Educators: Engaging Students, Parents, and the Community

The NC New Teacher Support Program (NC NTSP) Instructional Coaches from the UNC Charlotte Region are so lucky to work with a motivated and talented group of beginning teachers. These teachers engage and inspire their students in the classroom, but they also go beyond that. They create strong relationships with parents and the community. To their students, they demonstrate the positive impact you can have on the world around you.  

Not only do our teachers connect with their students and parents, but they also connect with and give back to the community. The Key Club at Monroe High in the Union County Public Schools is led by advisors, Brooke Chambers and Jessica Ennis, both second-year NC NTSP teachers. This year the Key Club led a canned food drive that collected over 2,920 cans. This group inspired the entire school and will provide much-needed assistance to many in the community.

Austin Reep, a first-year teacher from Forest Hills High in the Union County Public Schools, creates outstanding interactive lessons and goes above and beyond to make World History exciting and interesting for his students. He uses many different learning strategies and real-life connections.

Daniel Burrows, a second-year 9th grade World History teacher at Anson High School in the Anson County Schools, is doing an amazing job! Recently his students created children's books based on the topics of Imperialism, Nationalism, and Militarism. This allowed the 9th graders to dig into the concepts and break down the topics so elementary-aged students could understand them. The students then went to the elementary school to share their work.

On December 11, Melissa Pemberton, a third-year English Second Language teacher at Walter G. Byers School in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, hosted an incredible International Night. Over 10 families attended to watch student presentations, look at great student work, and enjoy delicious food. Mrs. Pemberton organized this wonderful event which strengthened the school’s relationship with students and parents. What a special evening to share!

These are only a few examples of the amazing things we see during our work with NC NTSP teachers. Our teachers may not even be aware of it, but their lessons, relationships, and commitment are leaving a positive mark on their students and beyond. That is why we call them “extraordinary educators.”


Patrick Conetta, UNC-CSLD Region Instructional Coach

Patrick Conetta is an Instructional Coach in the UNC-Center for School Leadership Development region of the North Carolina New Teacher Support Program (NC NTSP) currently serving schools in Vance County, Roanoke Rapids, and a Charter school in Hillsborough.

Patrick’s career in education spans more than two decades in two states. Prior to moving to North Carolina to teach, Patrick taught science at his alma mater and an alternative school in Connecticut. Since moving to North Carolina in 1994, he has held positions as a high school science teacher and curriculum facilitator in Alamance county, traveled the state as an Instructional Facilitator for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) District and School Transformation improving science instruction in low-performing schools, and now enjoys working with beginning teachers with NC NTSP promoting teacher retention and student achievement.

Patrick’s perspective on teaching and learning has been shaped through his extensive travels providing professional development in the areas of EVAAS, Rigor and Curriculum alignment, as well as formative and summative assessment to Regional Education Service Alliances (RESAs) and district stakeholders.  Additionally, he remains connected with prospective and in-service teachers by providing training in formative assessment, inquiry-based instruction, and discourse to promote learning.  However, interacting with students remains his passion and reinforces his position as an instructional coach.  Finally, Patrick is shaped by his work on what his family describes as his “little paper” examining experiences of science teachers in low-performing rural schools urging us to rethink teacher persistence as a moment-to-moment accomplishment.  As fellow coaches and teachers in hard-to-staff schools would agree, daily persistence is an accomplishment that deserves our attention.

When not working directly with teachers, Patrick maintains relationships with elementary and middle school students coaching the Huskies to 7 recreational soccer championships and Elon United who continue to learn the intricacies of indoor soccer.  He also is involved with his sons’ school by volunteering to teach science lessons or by serving as a consultant for the STEM Challenge sponsored by Carolina Biological Supply Company.

He currently lives in Gibsonville with his wife, Kristyn; sons, Max and Evan; and two dogs, Roxie and Lloyd.


NC NTSP Asks: Q & A with Dr. Karen Wixson, Dean of the School of Education at the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG)

Why do you believe it is important for the School of Education to be involved in supporting beginning teachers?

Dean Wixson:
Supporting beginning teachers is part of the UNCG School of Education’s commitment to lifelong learning for education professionals.

What challenges are you aware of for Schools of Education in providing support to beginning teachers?

Dean Wixson:
In addition to the ever-present problem of too few resources, is the difficulty of providing direct support to UNCG graduates who are teaching all over the state.

In what ways does the NC New Teacher Support Program assist in meeting these goals and challenges?

Dean Wixson:
The NC New Teacher Support Program provides direct support to all beginning teachers in high-needs schools across the state, regardless of the institution from which they graduated. This means that all UNCG grads who are beginning teachers in high-needs schools receive direct support.