NC NTSP Connect: December 2016 Newsletter

Dear Colleagues:

As the holidays approach, I cannot help but reflect on the amazing journey we have traveled together in 2016 and how we have worked together to support beginning teachers as they become more effective for the students they teach.

In 2016, we provided exciting and engaging Institutes, where beginning teachers came together from all over the state to network, learn from each other, interact with expert NC NTSP Instructional Coaches, and take back strategies related to the NC Professional Teaching Standards that they can apply immediately in their classrooms.

We provided aligned professional development, focused on district-specific needs aligned with the high leverage skills beginning teachers need to be successful. Participants responded with highly favorable evaluations from the professional development sessions, especially in the ability to apply what they learned in the settings they teach.

NC NTSP Instructional Coaches provided in-classroom, differentiated, individualized instructional visits in more than 200 schools.  They co-taught with teachers, modeled lessons, provided resources, helped with planning, facilitated data analysis opportunities, observed, and provided immediate instructional feedback.

I am confident that 2017 will bring continued learning for beginning teachers so they can improve effectiveness for the ultimate purpose of improving student learning growth. We will continue to work together to help teachers be the best they can be for the students of North Carolina.

As the2017 spring semester approaches, we would be happy to discuss how the NC NTSP can provide additional support.  As districts fill mid-year vacancies, we welcome the opportunity for new partnerships with districts looking to enhance the supports for beginning teachers.

I wish you and yours the best during the holiday season and a very happy New Year.

All the Best,

Bryan S. Zugelder




Instructional Coach Spotlight: Lori Best & Lindsay Lewis, NC State Region

In October, the NC State Region of the NC NTSP welcomed two new coaches to our team.  Lori Best and Lindsay Lewis are now serving beginning teachers for the following partners in our region: Harnett County Schools, Lee County Schools, Northampton County Schools and Hope Leadership Academy in Raleigh. 

Lori Best has 18 years of experience in education, with more than six years as an instructional coach.  Her focus has been teaching research-based instructional strategies and differentiation.   Lori has served mostly in schools in transformation.  She strives to impact education by supporting and retaining new teachers.  She is certified in secondary science, middle school science and language arts, and K-12 reading. Lori grew up in Newton Grove, where she currently lives.  She has four children, 17, 15, 14, and 10, all of whom are her world.  

Lindsay Lewis graduated from Appalachian State in 2005, where she was a Teaching Fellow. She was a science teacher in Franklin County, NC. She earned two master’s degrees, worked as a graduate assistant, and completed her doctoral program at NC State University.  Her dissertation focused on the role that teachers’ beliefs play in integrating the practices they learn through professional development.  Prior to joining the NC New Teacher Support Program, Lindsay worked as an instructional coach with the NC New Schools.  

We are so happy to have these amazing individuals as part of our NC State Regional coaching team!




Recent Event Spotlight: A Community of "FINE" Arts

As core academic subjects, the arts and humanities equip students with the capacities to learn from the past, question the present, and envision new possibilities for the future. They are essential to a well-rounded, education for all Americans. A well-rounded education will give students opportunities to be “the creative thinkers of tomorrow.” This is very evident as the East Carolina University Region of the NC NTSP spotlights novice teachers who take the arts beyond the four walls of a classroom.

Perquimans County - Rachel Sanders is a first-year teacher at Perquimans County High School, in Hertford, NC, who receives support from the NC New Teacher Support Program.   She is passionate about Drama and the Arts.  She has found a way to collectively merge her love for chorus, drama, and public speaking to direct a group of students in a magical production of Alice in Wonderland, which will be held January 13 – 14, 2017.  The students created their props, costumes, and set design.  Amber Kocher, an art teacher who also receives support from the NC New Teacher Support Program, collaborated and allowed her students to apply the skills from art class to create the authentic artwork along with the students from Ms. Sanders’ class.  The students would often work through lunch and after school to complete the set.  The practice for the upcoming play is held daily after school, which involves a great deal of sacrifice from the teachers and the students.

Edgecombe County - Diedra Hunter is a second-year teacher at Stocks Elementary School, in Tarboro NC, who participates in the NC NTSP.  Ms. Hunter is the daughter of an educator and is very passionate in exposing her students to her love of art. On December 1, 2016, she showcased the work of one of her student artists in the Edgecombe County Public Schools Central Services Art Gallery.  At this event, student artists from around the county are recognized for their outstanding dedication to art education.  This event took place at Kelhin Auditorium on the Edgecombe Community College campus. Ms. Hunter looks forward to showcasing other student artists at the upcoming spring gallery. Along with Ms. Hunter, Emily Seils Kilbourne, NC NTSP first-year teacher at Coker-Wimberly Elementary and Princeville Elementary, also displayed the work of a student artist.




NC NTSP Asks: Q & A with Beginning Teachers in the UNC Region

As we approach a much needed break in the next few weeks, it is important to consider what motivates, challenges, and inspires us as educators. We are especially eager to learn from teachers across the state and in our region about their personal experiences in the classroom.  This month we hear from Shirley Torain, who teaches at Person High School in Person County, and Stephen Sutton, who teaches at Speight Middle School in Wilson County. Both teach Exceptional Children.

What made you decide to become a teacher?

I became a teacher first because I love helping people learn. Second, I am committed to making learning accessible to as many individuals, regardless of their unique abilities, as possible.-Stephen Sutton

I wanted to be more involved with the youth in my community. I felt like I could connect with them and inspire them to succeed. I have always admired teachers and what they do for students. –Shirley Torain

What are some moments you have celebrated? Struggled with?

I've celebrated moments when I reach students who feel like they've been overlooked, forgotten, or given up on. These are rare occasions we get confirmation we're doing the right thing. The struggles of time management and organization come up daily it. I try to remind myself how fortunate I am to have them.
-Stephen Sutton

I celebrated passing my Praxis tests and becoming a teacher. Being a lateral entry teacher, a comprehensive test on a subject that you are not familiar with is terrifying. So I was ecstatic when I passed on the first try. I struggled with time management. I always felt like I needed two of me. I always felt and still do feel at times now that I am missing something since I did not have an educational background. -Shirley Torain

How has having a NC New Teacher Support Program Instructional Coach supported you through those moments?

They have first-hand experience and give sound advice. The BT meetings and conference have been filled with relevant training in my teaching area.-Stephen Sutton

I have had two different people and they were always supportive and gave great advice on handling situations. Whenever I said I didn't know how to find something they emailed me with information to help.-Shirley Torain

What advice would you give to new BTs in your district (how to utilize coaching)?

Pace yourself. Know that you cannot get it all done in one day or even one year. And utilize your teacher support coaches and mentors, they are there to help.-Shirley Torain






Research Spotlight: Electronic portfolios: An effective solution for technology impementation in the classroom


As the pressure to increase technology use in the classroom becomes overwhelming for both educators and students, it is essential to understand and effectively utilize new literacies and high tech electronics to implement those teaching practices that have weathered the changing tides of educational trends and policies. The writing portfolio, when implemented correctly, is one teaching tool that not only provides authentic assessment, but also allows for continuous short-and-long term review of student progress and goal achievement. According to many linguists, no system of assessment is as perfect as the portfolio for writing assessment. Many educators recognize that portfolio assessment can extend beyond evaluation and enhance several facets of learning including objective alignment, teaching standards, and assessments to increase comprehension and achievement.

Portfolios In A Digital World
Defined as “a purposeful collection of student work that exhibits students’ efforts, progress, and achievements in one or more areas” (Paulson, Paulson, & Meyer, 1991, p. 60), the writing portfolio demonstrates learning and mastery that “provides a foundation for reflection on learning and performance as a means to further development, construct personal expertise, and explore identity” (Rickards, Diez, Ehley, Guilbault, Loacker, Hart & Smith, 2008, p. 31). With artifacts that range from journal entries to literary essays, portfolio use not only allows students to concretely visualize their errors over time, but also encourages an understanding of growth and self-reflection on writing in a way that is limited during single-submission assignments. By capturing student voice and exercising student writing skills, digital writing portfolios encourage a complete assessment of individual writing as a continuous evolving process; it is a differentiated way to see students as individual authors and thinkers.

Coupling technology and portfolio implementation has been noted to enhance student engagement, and Yancey and Weiser (1997) “suggested that digital portfolios have much to say about the changing nature of literacy” (Hicks, Russo, Autrey, Gardner, Kabodian, & Edington, 2007, p. 450). Approaching the integration of technology with the writing portfolio from a multi-literacies perspective not only encourages student reflection, but also supports teachers’ critical thinking regarding implementation of learning technology.

Digital Implementation

Similar to hard copy portfolio creation, a digital portfolio must have a concrete set of standards that establishes guidelines for students and connects to set curriculum goals; when adding technology to a collection of work, teachers that are not well planned risk students creating “a portfolio without standards [that] is just a multimedia presentation or a fancy electronic resume or digital scrapbook” (Barrett, 1999). Additionally, many decisions must be made including the tools that will best fit the students’ needs and the computer-knowledge that is required to create, organize, and maintain an eportfolio. As with any educational technology, ease of use must also be a prominent consideration. Prior to beginning any implementation, students must be provided examples of eportfolios “so they understand the overall format and the richness of artifacts – digitally produced homework, classwork, and projects – that can be put into it” (Tuttle, 2007). Similar to the interactive notebook or day planner concept, the digital portfolio organization can include basic elements such as “a title page, an [individual] standards’ grid… with accompanying artifacts and information on how each artifact addresses the standard, an area for the student’s overall reflection on the standard, and a teacher feedback section” (Tuttle, 2007).  Of course, organization must be determined by the format utilized by the instructor.


More than ever, technology must be purposefully and competently implemented to enhance pedagogical outcomes. Not only will critical thinking and new literacies emerge as a result, but teachers are also preparing students for the digital workplace. Active engagement, as well as a learning environment that challenges students and requires reflection and self-assessment, is essential for the new computer-based thinkers and collaborators. Digital portfolios “provide not only a context for assessment but a focus on the enhancement of writing skills, namely organizing, presenting, and reflecting on learning,” with an ease of use that forces both teachers and students to go beyond the superficiality of initial technology exploration and provide “a greater degree of student empowerment, with students able to continually improve previously written papers and select their best papers for final grading (Nezakatgoo, 2011, p. 235).  With performance pressures for both teachers and students “providing an operational facility for learners to move among numerous and complex performance records” (Rickards et al, 2008, p. 31), electronic portfolios can relieve some of the external pressures and regain focus on the learning that must take place.  The ability for instructors, administrators, parents, and students to view “academic progress in a more concrete format” (Rickards et al, 2008 p. 32) not only encourages proactive learning but also allows for intervention, enrichment, and support to be initiated and removed as necessary. Digital portfolios provide another layer to the rapidly changing education world; however, student motivation and learner ownership is increased while maintaining an essence of traditional instruction.


Barrett, H. (1999, February 28-March 4). Electronic teaching portfolios. Paper presented at the Society for

Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, San Antonio, TX.

Hicks, T., Russo, A., Autrey, T., Gardner, R., Kabodian, A., & Edington, C. (2007). Rethinking the

Purposes and Processes for Designing Digital Portfolios. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 50(6), 450-458. Retrieved from

Nezakatgoo, B. (2011). The Effects of Portfolio Assessment on Writing of EFL Students. ELT

Journal, 4(2),

231-241. Retrieved from elt/article/view/10796/7654

Paulson, F. L., Paulson, P. R., & Meyer, C. A. (1991). What makes a portfolio a portfolio?

Educational leadership, 48(5), 60-63.

Rickards, W., Diez, M., Ehley, L., Guilbault, L., Loacker, G., Hart, J., & Smith, P. (2008). Learning,

Reflection, and Electronic Portfolios: Stepping Toward an Assessment Practice. The Journal of General Education, 57(1), 31-50. Retrieved from

Tuttle, H.G. (2007). Digital age assessment: E-portfolios are the wave of the future. Technology &

Learning. 27(7), 22. Retrieved from digital-age-assessment-e-portfolios-are-the-wave




School Spotlight: Teachers Collaborate to Teach Cross-Curricular Lessons

As the unsuspecting teacher opens the classroom door, the scene before her could have been ripped from the headlines: Star-crossed lovers declare a suicide-pact, breaking into the local high school one night to follow through on the decision to end their young lives. After partying together in a classroom, he follows through on their pact, however she “freaks” and flees the scene before anyone finds them…

This is the second year Chris Marsh, Law and Justice Instructor, and Karah Wilson, Theater Arts Director at McDowell High School, have worked together to create a realistic crime scene scenario for their students to investigate.

Mrs. Wilson, a former NC NTSP participant in her fourth year of teaching, staged the “crime scene” with her Theater Arts II students, who are also playing various roles in the scenario. Students from the EMT classes studied the scene as an example of crime scene preservation for first responders. Mr. Marsh, a current BT2 participating in the NC NTSP and the 2016 McDowell High School Beginning Teacher of the Year, has led his Crime and Justice II class through the investigation. The students have been responsible for all aspects of the investigation, including forensic teams for gun analysis, fingerprinting, and the analyzing of bodily fluids.

The Crime and Justice II students are now preparing for the next phase of the investigation. The local District Attorney will be visiting the class to evaluate the case for possible charges. The DA is not expected to go easy on the students just because this is a scenario. Last year he hammered the students regarding their investigation, just as he would the actual CSIs in McDowell County. Currently, the Crime and Justice II students are learning about courtroom procedures as they prepare for the mock trial in January. A local judge will preside over the hearing at the courthouse, with local attorneys providing technical support for the student attorneys during to trial.

Chris and Karah are planning another collaboration during the Spring semester. “This is a great process for students to work together across the hallway,” says Chris. “The kids get the opportunity to see the cross-curricular connections.”