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2020 Cohort

Melissa Altemose

Melissa Altemose is an educational leader committed to bringing high quality, equitable educational experiences to students from rural communities in North Carolina. Melissa holds degrees in cell and developmental biology, science K-12 curriculum and instruction, and school administration. She is currently pursuing her doctorate in educational leadership. Melissa serves as an assistant principal in eastern North Carolina (Edgecombe County) and employs the tenants of design thinking in addressing challenges in the school community. Melissa can be reached at

Pam Batchelor

Pam Batchelor earned a Bachelor of Science in History Education at East Carolina University. While serving as a middle school social studies teacher, she discovered a talent and passion for coaching teachers on integrating technology in their classrooms. Pam went on to earn her Master of Arts in Education in Instructional Technology at East Carolina University. While studying for her master’s degree, Pam had the opportunity to move into a K-12 district coaching role on the Digital Learning Team in Johnston County. After earning her masters, Pam continued her education with an administrative add-on license from Appalachian State University. After five years of coaching educators at the district level and leading a multidisciplinary support team, Pam received an offer for her current position as a Digital Learning Systems Consultant at North Carolina Department of Public Instruction in 2017. Pam currently provides state-wide support for the instructional applications in the Home Base system. Pam can be reached at

Donnell Cannon

Donnell Cannon, a native of Richmond, Virginia, works on issues of educational equity and youth development, with a focus on designing and building innovative learning environments that work for all children. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Norfolk State University, Donnell joined Teach For America as a corps member in Eastern North Carolina and taught middle school social studies in Weldon, North Carolina. He served as the director of the CDF Freedom School in Rocky Mount, NC from 2013-2015. Donnell holds a Master of School Administration degree as part of NC State University’s Northeast Leadership Academy (NELA). Donnell is the former principal of North Edgecombe High School, and the co-founder of the North-Phillips School of Innovation. The North-Phillips School of Innovation, a micro-school, was created to provide students a liberating education that allows them to develop and pursue their passions, realize their life’s purpose, remain resilient in the face of challenges, and lead social and economic change in their families and communities, creating a ripple for generations to come. He is currently serving as Executive Director of District Transformation and Redesign for Edgecombe County. Donnell is the proud uncle of one niece and two nephews, who constantly fuel his inspiration and urgency in this work. Donnell can be reached at

Ernest Cooley Jr.

Ernest Cooley Jr. earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Livingstone College and a Master in Education from Cambridge College. He worked as a Student Assistance Counselor at Hertford County Middle School. He taught Business Education, coached several sports and worked as Athletic Director at C.G. White Middle. Ernest served as Asst. Principal of Bearfield Primary School in Hertford County. He also served as Asst. Principal/ Principal of Camden Middle for 10 yrs. During this time he was recognized as the 2013 and 2015 District Principal of the Year. Ernest returned to Hertford County as Principal of Hertford County High School where he was named the 2021 District Principal of the Year. Ernest was recently promoted to Director of Secondary Curriculum and Career and Technology Education of HCPS. While serving his country in Operation Desert Storm as a member of the US Naval Reserves, he received the National Defense Medal. Ernest and his wife Delina have 2 sons, and he serves as a Minister at Ahoskie Christian Center Church. Ernest can be reached at

Beth Gulewich

Beth Gulewich is originally from Roseburg, Oregon and had the opportunity to live in Germany, New York, and Oahu, Hawaii, yet has called North Carolina home for the last 19 years. She earned both a Bachelor and Master of Arts in German from University of Oregon as a first generation college graduate, as well as a Master in School Administration degree from NC State University as a NC Principal Fellow. Beth began her teaching career as a middle and high school German teacher at Carnage MS and Broughton HS in Raleigh. After 16 years, she left the German classroom to support teachers and students in affecting meaningful change within the school building. She started working on her doctorate from NC State University in the summer of 2020, and was thrilled to join the Terrell Lane MS family in December of 2020. Beth wants to research true integration at the classroom-level. Beth can be reached at

Tekeyla Jones

Tekeyla Jones earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Shaw University and a Master of Science degree in Counselor Education from East Carolina University. She later earned a second Master of School Administration from NC State University through the Northeast Leadership Academy (NELA). Formerly a social worker, she started her career in education as a middle school Social Studies teacher with Nash-Rocky Mount Schools. After several years in the classroom, Tekeyla spent time as a middle and high school counselor, an instructional coach, and a high school assistant principal. She has also worked part time as a licensed therapist in a children’s mental health facility. She currently serves as an assistant principal at Terrell Lane Middle School with Franklin County Schools. Tekeyla can be reached at

Scott Lassiter

Scott Lassiter is a proud product of Wake County Public Schools, NC State University and NC Central University. He began his teaching career as a high school history teacher in WCPSS and later taught middle school before being appointed assistant principal. Most recently, he has become a founder of the district’s newest alternative school for students otherwise facing exclusionary discipline. Lassiter believes strongly in public service. He was his high school’s student body president, served as NC State University’s student body treasurer, spent four years serving his hometown of Apex, NC as a town councilman, and now represents Wake County as an elected soil and water conservation district supervisor. He has a strong belief in the ability of all students to become contributing community members through various paths. He is married to his favorite Wolfpacker, Jamie; they reside in Cary. Scott enjoys golfing, sporting clays, gardening, DIY projects, reading, beach trips, and spending time with his four-legged ‘ride-or-die’ Nash. Scott can be reached at

Caroline Linker

Caroline Linker graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and minors in Business Administration and Spanish from NC State University. She joined Teach for America as a corps member in 2012, where she earned her teaching licensure through East Carolina University. As a corps member, Caroline served as a Transition Team Leader for incoming corps members and served as a Summer Fellow in 2014. Caroline taught Algebra I and Geometry at Northwest Halifax High School in Littleton, N.C, where she was also head volleyball coach. She also served as a member of the School Improvement Team, the PBIS Intervention Team, and was the AVID Site Team Leader. Caroline was at Scotland Neck Primary for her Principal Residency. Caroline was an Assistant Principal at Bunn High School during the 2016 to 2017 school year, then Principal of Youngsville Elementary School from 2017-2019. Caroline currently serves as Principal at W.G. Pearson Elementary School with Durham Public Schools. Caroline can be reached at

David Lott

David Lott earned a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary English Education from Barton College in 1999. He also completed undergraduate work at Oral Roberts University and Eastern Michigan University. He taught middle school Language Arts for one year in Wayne County, and he taught English at Hunt High School in Wilson County for 13 years. In addition to serving as the English department chair at Hunt, he served as a member of the School Leadership Team, the AVID site team and the eLearning team. He also served as co-chair of the PBIS committee and helped to oversee transportation and bus discipline. David earned his Master of School Administration at Barton College in 2017, and he has served as the assistant principal at Vick Elementary School in Wilson County since August 2017. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy. David enjoys running, cycling, kayaking, and hiking. He resides in Farmville, NC with his wife, four cats, and one dog. David can be reached at

Kristen McCollum

Kristen D. McCollum earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Winston-Salem State University. After which she moved to New Orleans, Louisiana to join the Teach For America Corps. In New Orleans she taught a variety of subjects in 4th-6th grades at Encore Academy and Morris Jeff Community School. During that time, her passion for educational equity, fostering teacher growth and implementing strong school culture took root. She moved back to her home state of North Carolina where she then earned a Master of School Administration from NC State University. Kristen now serves as a proud Assistant Principal at West Cary Middle School and has served in this role since 2018. In addition to her role as an Assistant Principal, she serves as a member of #Equity4Wake, a grassroots group of educators who plan programming for the Wake County community. Kristen is also one of eight Equity Fellows for the Wake County Public School System. She is committed to building positive school communities that support, uplift, and empower students, families, and staff. Kristen can be reached at

Jennifer Mckinnon

Jennifer McKinnon earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2007. She worked as a Kindergarten and Third Grade Teacher in WCPSS for many years prior to transitioning to an administrative position role. Jennifer graduated from North Carolina Central University in 2011 with a Masters Degree in Curriculum and Instruction, and then again in 2013 with a Masters Degree of School Administration. She transitioned to an Assistant Principal position at Holly Grove Elementary School in 2013. In 2015, Jennifer moved to Tokyo, Japan and worked with the Department of Defense Education Activity as a Classroom Teacher, School Improvement Chair, Grade Level Leader, AIG Support Team Member, and District Teacher Representative. She transitioned back to WCPSS in 2018 where she has been the Assistant Principal at Holly Springs Elementary School. She enjoys serving her community in many capacities, including supporting non profit work focused on culturally relevant pedagogy and an equitable education for all students. Jennifer can be reached at

Victoria Privott

Victoria Privott is a proud HBCU grad and received her B.S. in English Education from Fayetteville State University and her M.S.A. from Gardner-Webb University. She spent 11 years as a high school English teacher in Charlotte, NC before becoming a principal with District of Columbia Public Schools in Washington, DC. She has since been a school administrator in the United Arab Emirates and Wake County Public Schools where she currently serves as an elementary school principal. Victoria can be reached at

Eric Rosen

Eric Rosen earned his Bachelor’s degree in Middle Grades Education with concentrations in math and science from East Carolina University. He taught math and science and held a variety of leadership roles at Apex Middle, Salem Middle, and East Garner Magnet Middle within the Wake County Public School System. Eric completed a Master of School Administration degree from NC State University in conjunction with the Triangle Leadership Academy. His administrative internship was at Dillard Drive Middle. Eric’s first Assistant Principal position was at Apex Middle School from 2010 to 2015. In 2015, he changed levels and moved as an Assistant Principal to Panther Creek High School in Cary and then to Athens Drive Magnet High School in Raleigh. Eric was named Principal of Carnage Magnet Middle School in Raleigh and started in July 2022. Eric can be reached at

Sarah Simmons

Sarah Simmons obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a major in English from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Her teaching career has spanned three states (Michigan, Florida, and North Carolina) and six grade levels. During her teaching career, she served as a mentor and coordinating teaching to several student teachers and developed a love for supporting and growing teachers. As a result, she received a Master of School Administration as a Principal Fellows recipient from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has served as an elementary administrator since 2009. During her tenure as principal, Sarah has worked to consistently raise student growth and achievement and increase teacher satisfaction and morale. She has served as a mentor to four MSA interns and four first-year principals. In addition, she helped to shape the WCPSS strategic plan by serving as a member of the district MTSS committee. Sarah presented “a principal’s perspective on MTSS implementation” at the NASP and the NCSP conferences. She has also presented “Budgeting 101” to MSA students at UNC-CH, and “PLT’s through an MTSS lens” at the WCPSS new school leader academy. She is currently pursuing a doctorate in Education Leadership at NCSU. Sarah can be reached at

Claudia Smith

Claudia Smith is a doctoral student in the Educational Leadership program. She earned an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education with double minors in French and Hispanic Studies from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While teaching, she earned her English as a Second Language (ESL) licensure. She then attended Teachers College at Columbia University, where she earned a Master’s degree as a Literacy Specialist and interned at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP). Upon returning from graduate school, Claudia led her school’s Response to Intervention (RTI) team as a K-5 bilingual RTI specialist. Later, while working as a dual language instructional coach and running her own consulting company, she attended NC State University where she received her Master of School Administration (MSA). Claudia can be reached at

Abby Stotsenberg

Abby Stotsenberg graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in History Education. After moving to North Carolina, she taught middle school social studies and language arts in Cumberland and Hoke Counties and high school social studies at Southeast Raleigh Magnet High School and Fuquay-Varina High School, both in Wake County. During this time, she became a National Board Certified Teacher. In 2011, she completed a Master of School Administration from NC State University and became an assistant principal at Leesville Road Middle School. She then served as the Wake County School’s Senior Administrator for Social Studies Curriculum and Instruction. In 2017, she became the principal of Vernon Malone College Career Academy, which earned Magnet School of Distinction in 2018, 2019, and 2020. In 2020, Vernon Malone became a Certified Demonstration National Magnet School. Abby can be reached at

Jennifer Swartz

Jennifer Swartz earned her Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in English Education from NC State University. She taught English at South Johnston High School for seven years, then at West Johnston High School for six more. She earned her National Board Certification in English before re-enrolling at NC State University to earn a Master of School Administration. Jennifer moved into the role of instructional coach before being named an assistant principal at West Johnston where she served seven years as a member of the administrative team with duties focused on professional development of staff and curriculum and instruction. She received the Johnston County Assistant Principal of the Year award and has served as president of the Alpha Beta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International. She served one year as an assistant principal at McGee’s Middle School before returning to West Johnston High School as Principal where she has led her Wildcat community for the past four years. She is the wife of Chip Swartz and mom to her beautiful daughter, MacKenzie. A native of Elizabeth City, Jennifer enjoys cooking, hand lettering, and traveling with her family. Jennifer can be reached at

Ronica Watford

Ronica Watford earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education from North Carolina Central University in 2008. Upon the completion of her undergraduate degree, Watford’s interest in education was further propelled and she committed her professional life to the promotion of education. She was named Ahoskie Elementary School Teacher of the Year for the 2012-2013 school year. While serving as a Fifth Grade Mathematics and Science teacher at Ahoskie Elementary School, she decided to expand her sphere of leadership. She earned a Master of School Administration Degree through the Northeast Leadership Academy (NELA) at NC State University in 2014. Watford’s collective 10 plus years in public education include service at the Elementary, Middle, and High school level. As she seeks to be a voice of education in her community, she has served in various positions within Hertford County Public School System of increasing responsibility. She has served as a Fifth Grade Mathematics and Science Teacher, Dean of Students, Beginning Teacher Mentor, and Instructional Coach. In 2019, Watford transitioned into the assistant principalship at Hertford County High School. Ronica can be reached at