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NELA Cohort Fellows


Jai’La Carmack

Jai’La Carmack earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology at Elizabeth City State University and a Master of Science degree in Biomedical Science at Liberty University. She taught Earth and Environmental Science, Biology, and Physics at Washington County Early College High School. After five years in the classroom she recently transitioned to the role of Instructional Coach, Intervention Specialist and Coordinator of Testing and Accountability at Washington County Middle School. She was Washington County’s 2020-2021 Teacher of the Year. Jai’la can be reached at jcarmac@ncsu.edu.


Haley Coker

Haley Coker earned her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education from East Carolina University. She has taught 4th and 5th grade for six years at G.W. Bulluck Elementary in Edgecombe County. She recently transitioned into the role of 3rd-5th grade Reading Interventionist. In her time at Bulluck Elementary, she was named Beginning Teacher of the Year for her school, has been a mentor for beginning teachers, sponsors the Jr. Beta Club, and serves on the School Improvement Team and Resilience Committee. She was recognized for having a value-added score in the top 25% at the district and state level for three consecutive years. Haley can be reached at hcoker@ncsu.edu.


Christopher Fox

Christopher Fox earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies with a concentration in Elementary Education from Fayetteville State University. Chris taught 2nd grade for four years prior to moving to 1st grade to serve as grade level chair. Most recently, he was recognized as a Multi-Classroom Teacher, where he co-teaches across multiple classrooms with other teachers and demonstrates high quality instruction. He also serves on the School Improvement Team and the PBIS/MTSS team. Chris is currently teaching 1st grade at Williford Elementary School in Nash County. Christopher can be reached at ckfox@ncsu.edu.


Hayley Gearheart

Hayley Gearheart graduated cum laude from Butler University in 2017 and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Classical Studies. She was a 2017 Teach for America Corps Member in Eastern NC and taught English I, English II, English III, and ACT Prep at Weldon STEM High School Career Academies. During her time at Weldon, she served as the senior class advisor, School Improvement Team Chair, English Department Chair, assistant softball coach, and Instructional Lead Teacher (ILT) for the district. Additionally, Hayley served as a Servant Leader Intern for the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School program at the Peacemakers of Rocky Mount site. In the fall of 2020, Hayley transitioned to serving as the English Department Chair and English II teacher at North Edgecombe High School. She continued to serve on the School Improvement Team, School Design Team, and the North-Philips School of Innovation (NPSI) Team. Hayley was named Edgecombe County Public School’s Teacher of the Year for the 2021-2022 school year. Currently, Hayley is designing curriculum and serving as the lead English Design for Change facilitator at North Edgecombe High School in Edgecombe County. Hayley can be reached at hgearhe@ncsu.edu.


Dillon Hamill

Dillon Hamill earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Russian Studies from East Carolina University in 2014. As a lateral entry educator, he earned a Master of Arts in Teaching from Lenoir Rhyne University in 2019. During his teaching career, Dillon has taught Secondary Social Studies for both Lenoir County Public Schools and Edgecombe County Public Schools. He is APSI Certified for Advanced Placement World History. At SouthWest Edgecombe High School, he currently serves as both the School Improvement Team Chair and the Department Chair for Social Studies. During his time as School Improvement Team Chair, SouthWest completed a master schedule redesign to include academic remediation, cultural enrichment, and leadership growth daily for all learners through a “POWER” hour. As Department Chair for Social Studies, Dillon led staff through implementing new NCDPI Standards with a pivot towards rigor and increased literacy in the social studies classes. Dillon can be reached at dshamill@ncsu.edu.


Marsha Harvey

Marsha Harvey earned a Diploma in Education from Mico University College and then a Bachelor’s degree in Education from The Consortium of Colleges for Teacher Education (Jamaica). Marsha has served as the Chair for the School Improvement Team as well as for the English Department at Vance County High School. She has also served as a member of her district’s Technology Refresh Committee and the district’s Curriculum Pedagogy Committee. Marsha is an award winning educator who is the recipient of The Governor’s Award for the state of NC, the Vanceformation award in her district, and most recently the LEAP grant which is awarded to teachers who wish to transform their classrooms into modern spaces. Marsha is also a Fellow of Duke University’s MEAC program which is a year-long fellowship awarded to teachers in the state of NC. In her district, she serves as a Model Learning Environment Teacher for her innovative use of technology in the classroom. She has also been a presenter at the CTE and Community Partnership workshop as well as other workshops. She currently serves as an English and AP Literature teacher at Vance County High School. Marsha can be reached at mharvey@ncsu.edu.


Lorane Johnson

Lorane Johnson earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from NC Wesleyan College. After a short stint of working in a local credit union, she began her career in education as a lateral entry teacher. She then earned a Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction from Shaw University with an add-on licensure in Elementary Education (K-6). She has since completed requirements for add-on licensure in Middle Grades Math. Over the course of her teaching career, she has served as the SIT Team Chair, Grade Level Chair, Beginning Teacher Mentor, and Multi-Classroom Leader. She has been actively involved in extra-curricular activities such as the PBIS, MTSS, and Makerspace committees, MathCounts Foundation coach, and part-time instructor with the St. Augustine’s TRIO Upward Bound Program. She was recognized as Teacher of the Year for her school in 2019-2020. She has also funded and ran her own community summer camp. Her lifelong goal is to provide economically disadvantaged students with access to high quality educational opportunities. She currently serves as a math teacher at Enfield Middle STEAM Academy in Halifax County. Lorane can be reached at ljohns23@ncsu.edu.


Deric Munoz

Deric Munoz earned his degree in Social Studies Education from Clarion University of Pennsylvania and later added certification in English Education. He has served as grade chair and MTSS chair. He was recognized as Bunn Middle School’s teacher of the year in 2019-2020. He was a member of his district’s EmpowerED team, which focuses on ways to improve student learning using technology. Deric spent the first four years of his career serving at Bunn Middle School as a 7th and 8th grade English teacher. He currently teaches all levels of English at Bunn High School in Franklin County. Deric has also coached multiple sports including Baseball, Volleyball, Football, Basketball, and Soccer. Deric can be reached at dsmunoz@ncsu.edu.


Alaina Ritter

Alaina Ritter earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Bachelor of Science in History Education from East Carolina University in 2015. She was a NC Teaching Fellow and taught World History, American History, and AP US History at SouthWest Edgecombe High School for five years. During her sixth year at Southwest, she transitioned into the role of Digital Literacy Coach and Multi-Classroom Leader. Throughout her time at Southwest Edgecombe High School, she has been named Beginning Teacher of the Year for her school, served as the Social Studies Department Chair, mentored beginning teachers, and served on the School Improvement Team. In 2021, Alaina was accepted into the Rural School Leadership Academy through Teach For America. Alaina can be reached at aritter2@ncsu.edu.


Ryan Thorne

Ryan Thorne graduated from Duke University in 2016 in the top third of her class with a Bachelor of Arts in Art History with minors in English and Italian Studies. She then worked in various museums and cultural institutions, focusing on public and university education. In 2018, Ryan joined Teach for America – Eastern North Carolina where she served as humanities educator for grades 6th through 8th, HillRAP tutor, and School Improvement Team member at Phillips Middle School. Concurrently, she enrolled in a Masters of Science in Education in Secondary Education through Johns Hopkins University, a degree she completed in 2020. For the 2020-2021 academic year, Ryan joined the Exceptional Children’s team at South Edgecombe Middle School as a reading resource teacher. She currently serves as the school’s chair of the EC department and as a member of the Equity in Action Team. Previously, she served on the School Improvement Team. She has participated in projects through the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Buck Institute for Education, and Rural Opportunity Institute. Ryan can be reached at rethorne@ncsu.edu.


LaVonda Williams

LaVonda Williams earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from Mount Olive University. She has taught Pre-kindergarten and Kindergarten at Carver Elementary School in Henderson. In addition to her teaching duties, LaVonda currently serves as the Testing Coordinator, Afterschool Coordinator, School Improvement Team member, and Beginning Teacher Mentor. LaVonda has participated in the Teacher Executive Leadership Institute and has been recognized as Carver’s Teacher of the Year in 2013 and 2021. LaVonda knows that all students are willing and able to learn and firmly believes in the phrase “we are well able to overcome”. LaVonda can be reached at lcwill22@ncsu.edu.