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NELA in the News 2013-2014

Successful STEM Night at Tonya Little’s School

NELA Cohort II fellow, Tonya Little, is an assistant principal at Riverside Middle School. The school hosted a STEM Family Night and PTA event. Many RMS STEM Stakeholders attended, including representatives from NC School of Science and Math, Martin Enterprises, NC A&T State University Regional Outreach for Excellence in STEM, and others. The Mop Shop, Inc. of Wake County facilitated a “Bad to the Bone” activity for parents and students to work together as lab partners in a forensic anthropology investigation.

STEM Family Night Mop Top Shop

NC State Wins National Award for Preparing Rural School Leaders

A North Carolina State University program to train leaders for rural schools in northeastern North Carolina was honored Nov. 20 with a national award for effectiveness – one of only two programs to receive the distinction.

Dr. Bonnie Fusarelli accepts the UCEA award for the Northeast Leadership Academy.

The Northeast Leadership Academy (NELA) is a rigorous two-year program that prepares principals and assistant principals to work as turnaround specialists in 14 high-need districts in northeastern North Carolina.

The University Council for Educational Administration will recognize NELA with an Exemplary Educational Leadership Program Award during an event in Washington, D.C.

News of the award came just days after NELA received an additional $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education through its Turnaround School Leaders Program. NELA also received a $4.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2013 to expand its reach.

“NC State is committed to serving the needs of North Carolina’s rural schools, which educate almost half of the state’s students,” says NC State education professor Bonnie Fusarelli, who directs the program. “NELA is based on research that demonstrates how school leaders retain effective teachers and create a school culture of achievement.”


  To prepare for the challenge of leading schools with limited access to resources and training, NELA graduates complete a yearlong internship and work with a community agency. They earn a master’s degree in school administration and commit to take a leadership position in one of the participating counties for three years after completing the program. Training includes a summer institute and mentoring from executive coaches. The first-year placement rate for NELA is more than twice the national average, Fusarelli says.


NELA, which began in 2010, serves the following districts: Bertie, Edgecombe, Franklin, Granville, Halifax, Hertford, Martin, Nash-Rocky Mount, Northampton, Roanoke Rapids, Vance, Warren, Washington and Weldon City. For more information about NELA, visit:


NELA Fellows and Project Team Visit Washington D.C. for UCEA Conference

All Cohort IV fellows, the NELA project team, and a few fellows from previous Cohorts visited Washington D.C. to attend the University Council for Education Administration (UCEA) Conference. Below are a few photos from the visit to Washington.

Cohort IV fellows Donnell Cannon, Caroline Linker, and Keith Parker in front of the Lincoln Memorial
Cohort IV fellows Jenny O’Meara and Crystal Davis
The Cohort IV fellows and Dr. Bonnie Fusarelli on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial
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NELA Featured in Education Weekly!

Recognized as “American education’s newspaper of record”, Education Week is a nationally-read newspaper that strives to connect K-12 education policy with practice. Within the Education Week website, there is a blog that focuses on news in Rural Education. The NELA program at NC State was featured in this blog for winning the UCEA award on October 28th, 2014. The blog gives some demographics about rural education in North Carolina. The blog article also says that NELA was recognized by the UCEA award for preparing school leaders to serve as “turnaround specialists”. To read more in this article and visit the Education Week page that discusses NELA, click here or click on the image of the article below.

Ed Week 10.29

Teicher Patterson, of Cohort II, in The Daily Herald

The Daily Herald is a local news source for the Roanoke Valley and Lake Gaston area. On October 16, 2014, Teicher Patterson was featured in The Daily Herald for his new role as principal at Enfield Middle School in Halifax County. In the article he shares how he will help the school achieve Panther PRIDE. Click here to read the article by The Daily Herald.

NELA featured on Front Page of the Technician


The Technician is the Student Newspaper on NC State’s campus. On October 12, 2014, a story featuring NELA was seen on the front page, celebrating the grant that was recently awarded to the program. The article also gave some information about the purpose of NELA and the impact that principals have in rural schools. View the article on the Technician Website by clicking on the photo above. Or, view a PDF version of the article by clicking this link: Technician Article 10:2014

Rocky Mount High Football Players Volunteer at Winstead Ave Elementary School, where Yolanda Wiggins, of Cohort I, is Principal

Football Players are visiting Winstead Avenue to work with young students, as a part of a program created by the physical education teachers at both schools. There are benefits for everyone involved! Read more about this story below in the article written by the Rocky Mount Telegram. Click on the image to see the story slightly enlarged.

Rocky Mount Article

Riverside Middle School’s Robox Sumo Competition

Tonya Little, of Cohort II, is currently serving as the Assistant Principal and STEM Coordinator at Riverside Middle School in Williamston, NC. Her school had a STEM-focused event where students had the opportunity to build their own “Robox” cars out of limited materials (including cardboard, wheels, a motor, etc.). Watch the video clips below to view a Digital Story of this event!

Clip 1 Clip 2 Clip 3 Credits

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Cohort II’s Krista Fasoli named Assistant Principal of the Year!

The Nash-Rocky Mount Principal of the Year awards were given on September 16th. Krista Fasoli is the very first recipient of Assistant Principal of the Year award for the Nash-Rocky Mount school district. She was recognized for her service at Williford Elementary School.

To read the full story, please visit the website for Nash-Rocky Mount Public schools by clicking here.

Erin Swanson, Cohort I Graduate, and Martin Millennium Academy  Featured on North Carolina Public Radio

Erin Swanson, NELA Cohort I fellow, is currently serving as principal at Martin Millennium Academy in Edgecombe County. Her school’s Global focused was a featured topic on North Carolina Public Radio. Martin Millennium Academy has employed international teachers and each class focuses on a different part of the world. The school also has a unique Spanish Immersion component.

To learn more about Martin Millennium Academy and listen to the radio show, click here.


NELA Cohorts Visit Bricks School for Leadership Social

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On Saturday, August 16th, 2014 all four NELA Cohorts were invited to the Franklinton Center at Bricks for a NELA Leadership Social. The event was created to offer advice to the newest Cohort and to recharge for the upcoming school year. The Franklinton Center at Bricks is a historical site in Whitakers, NC. Pre-Civil War, the site was a plantation where tobacco and cotton were farmed. However, the site soon provided a place for education. Where the plantation once ran, Bricks School and Franklinton Christian College were founded. The college trained black leaders for churches nearby and the accredited school served African American students. The Franklinton Center at Bricks now allows a space for conferences and events. The NELA Cohorts networked, enjoyed lunch, and gave advice to Cohort 4 at the event at Bricks. They also had the opportunity to spend some time at the pool.

To learn more about the Franklinton Center at Bricks, please visit their website here.

NELA Fellows get Inspired by Ron Clark

Ron Clark and Kim Bearden of the Ron Clark Academy visited NCSU’s College of Education. To read more on this story please click here.

SouthWest Edgecombe Leadership Training Corps Partners with NCSU

Keith Parker, NELA Cohort IV Fellow, brings high school students to NCSU to learn leadership skills. He served as a mentor for the SouthWest Edgecombe Leadership Training Corp. The group of students spent several days at NCSU. The Leadership Training Corp focuses on college readiness and also allows students to design a project that they will complete throughout the year at their school or in their community. Click here to read more on this story.

Matt Smith, Cohort III Fellow, Saved a Student’s Life!

While assistant principal intern at Southwest Edgecombe High School, Matt Smith saved student, Allison Lancaster, from choking in the school’s parking lot. Smith was directing carpool traffic at the time. Smith performed the Heimlich Maneuver on Allison in order to save her from choking.

Click here for more on this story.

Stephanie Cottle, Cohort III Fellow, Helped to Submit a Grant that was Awarded

She worked with the media coordinator to submit The Laura Bush Foundation for America’s Libraries grant for Bertie Middle School, her internship location for the 2013-2014 school year. Bertie Middle School was awarded a grant of $5,000 and was one of 219 schools to be be awarded for the purchase of books.

Angela Strother and ECPS’s Robot Sumo Competition!

Angela Strother, Cohort II fellow, assisted in the Robot Sumo Competition for Edgecombe County Public Schools on March 22nd, 2014. There were 40 6th-8th graders collaborating together in this competition. To learn more about this event, view the three digital story clips below.

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Gonzalo Pitpit, Cohort I Graduate, is a Contributor on a 4-H Video that was Recently on UNC-TV (April 2014)

Click here to view the video. (Pitpit is featured at minute 6)

Angela Strother, Cohort II Graduate, Organized Edgecombe County’s First Middle School Robot Sumo Competition on March 22, 2014.

She worked with the middle school director to put together this event for middle school students in the district. The competition was funded through a grant from Golden Leaf in collaboration with NC A&T.

Ryan Hurley, Cohort I Graduate, is Principal at Warren Early College High School and was Featured on National Public Radio.

NPR does a segment about Teach for America in Northeastern North Carolina. As part of this radio show, Ryan Hurley was interviewed as a past Teach for America Corps member who is still involved in education. When interviewed, Hurley was featured as the current principal at Warren Early College High School.

Read more of this article by clicking here.

Michelle Mobley, Cohort III Fellow, Helps Students at East End Elementary School Participate in the Science Fair

East End Elementary School in Martin County participates in the science fair during Fall 2013 for the first time in years due to the help of Cohort III Fellow, Michelle Mobley, who is serving there as an administrative intern.

Reenactment of Civil Right March – Tonya Little and NELA Colleagues

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Civil Rights March 3

Tonya Little and NELA colleagues recently organized an event that brought together elementary through high school students, parents, and community members to tell the story of local Civil Rights leaders and activists. They retraced march routes and returned to the courthouse where African-Americans were jailed for their roles in local protests. Mr. Bond had not set foot in the old courtroom since his arrest at a sit-in 50 years ago. Listening to his story was a powerful experience. Current students Ross and Chelsea spoke of how they were not aware of these stories and how they now had a new-found sense of pride in their community and level of respect for their elders. Through NELA’s high expectations and regional focus our Fellows realized the importance of and had the expertise to organize an event like this. They have vested interest in the success of students and schools in the Northeast.

Larry Hodgkins, Cohort II Graduate, is Assistant Principal at South Creek Middle School in Martin County

South Creek Middle School was number 102 out of more than 2400 schools in the state last year (top 5%) in terms of our growth composite. Their growth composite was 6.5. There was only one other school in Martin County that had a positive growth number (0.4).

See more on this by clicking here.

Tonya Little, Cohort II Graduate, is Assistant Principal and STEM coordinator at Riverside Middle School in Martin County

The Riverside Middle School robotics team competed in the LEGO Robotics League Challenge and placed 2nd in the robot design and 4th overall, out of 11 competing teams.

You can view a video about the robotics team by clicking here.

Ryan Hurley, Cohort I Graduate, is Principal at Warren Early College High School, which was Recently Named a Top Ten School for Black Student Performance

To read more about the Top Ten’s of North Carolina, click here.

Resource Room at Baskerville Elementary School, Nash/Rocky Mount Public Schools, Created by Jenifer Lewis, Cohort II NELA Fellow

Jenifer created this resource room for her internship problem of practice and debuted it during a Family Engagement Day event. This event was also featured on the North Carolina Association of School Administrators’ (NCASA) publication.

To read more on this story in the newspaper article, click here.

Martin County Science Fair Open House/STEM Kickoff – Success – Tonya Little, Cohort III NELA Fellow

The Science Fair Open House/STEM Kickoff was a success. Below is a promotional video that went out prior to the event, the video that will be presented at the Martin County Board of Education monthly meeting (Monday 02/07/13), and the newspaper article that was on the front page of the local newspaper this week.

The promotional video was show to students, parents, staff, and Martin County Board of Education Members prior to the Science Fair Open House/STEM Kickoff Event. Click here to watch this video.

The Science Fair Open House/STEM Kickoff Video was presented to the Martin County Board of Education on Monday 2/7/2013 at the monthly Board of Education meeting. Click here to watch this video.

To read the newsletter, click here.

Principals in Training Learn How to Host Learning Exchanges – January 17-19, 2013

NELA Fellows travel to Texas to participate in a Community Learning Exchange (CLE) and how to hose a CLE in Northeastern NC

Click here to read more about this.

Yolanda Wiggins – NELA Cohort I Graduate featured on NC State University Website and Alumni Blog

Ryan Hurley – NELA Cohort I Graduate featured in Local Newspaper for Spanish Immersion Program

Cohort II Fellows Present at the American Education Research Association (AERA)

Militello, M., Fusarelli, B., Robbins, E., & Greenhill, L. (2013, April). How Race to the Top funds are helping prepare tomorrow’s leaders today. Symposium at the annual meeting of the American Education Research Association, San Francisco, CA.