The College of Education and Allied Professions (CEAP) at Western Carolina University sponsors a grant program, School University Teacher Education Partnership (SUTEP) to support initiatives that will enhance our schools partnerships. An essential component of our CEAP mission is to “actively engage in our region as teacher-scholars through collaboration, consultation, direct services, and scholarly endeavors, in a variety of environments.” We have allocated a portion of the SUTEP budget to specifically support initiatives to advance that mission.
Proposals are reviewed and accepted in the fall by the SUTEP Grant Committee, and
require a partnership with at least one WCU faculty member. At the end of the spring
semester WCU hosts a SUTEP grant sharing day where all recipients present their work.
WCU Project Lead: Kim Davis
LEA Project Lead: Alyssa Kanipe
The SUTEP funds provided the WCU (Western Carolina University) Region of the NC New Teacher Support Program (NCNTSP) the opportunity for the re-establishment of a partnership between the NCNTSP and McDowell County Schools. McDowell County has a new Beginning Teacher Coordinator, Alyssa Kanipe, who was motivated to re-establish the partnership to provide high-quality supplemental induction support for a portion of McDowell County’s beginning teacher population. The SUTEP grant funds supplemented the financial commitment the school system made to NCNTSP. Both partners believe in the power of the high-quality instructional coaching and professional development provided by NCNTSP and know that every teacher who is retained and whose practice is impacted can make a difference in the lives of students. Jason Miller, one of the WCU Regional NCNTSP instructional coaches, served teachers weekly during the 22-23 school year in McDowell County and provided high quality individualized support for their beginning teachers. He supported them by helping teachers analyze student data, planning instruction, implementing classroom management plans, and reflecting on practice.
WCU Project Lead: Todd Stephen
LEA Project Lead: Caesar Campana IV, Cherokee County Schools
Tightly aligned to SUTEP Grant goals: (1) The enhancement of pre-service teacher and professional education; and (2) Collaboration in P-12 regional partnerships activities, two Cherokee County beginning teachers were afforded the opportunity to receive an NCCAT Beginning Teacher Badge to help launch their professional teaching career. The funds provided through the SUTEP grant covered the cost of substitute teachers for the four days that the two teachers attended the Beginning Teacher Badge PD, as well as mileage reimbursement for round trip travel from Cherokee County to Cullowhee.
WCU Project Lead: Jeananne Nichols
LEA Project Lead: Katy Morden
The SUTEP Grant was used to support a Ukulele Elective at The Catamount School facilitated by WCU students enrolled in MUS 324: Music in Middle School. The preservice music teachers planned and led weekly ukulele music club sessions that were open to any interested TCS student.
The MUS 324 course was structured as an embedded course with the arts curriculum of TCS. For 12 weeks during the semester WCU students engaged with the theory and methods of teaching music at the middle level and planned instruction for the ukulele sessions on Tuesday. On Thursday the WCU students met at TCS to lead the club sessions then debriefed with the professor and arts coordinator afterwards.
WCU Project Lead: Terry Rose
LEA Project Lead: Britney Ross, Curriculum Coordinator
The pen pal project is an ongoing twenty-three-year endeavor/partnership between Francine
Delany New School for Children and the EDEL 428/EDEL 429 mathematics methods instructor,
Terry D. Rose. The project was interrupted in the Spring of 2020 by COVID. Before
that, students in the methods courses and Francine Delany New School wrote letters
all semester about themselves, their respective schools, and mathematics. At the end
of each semester, the teachers and students from FDNSC traveled to WCU by bus 98 miles
round trip and the methods students met their pen pals. Each WCU student taught a
mathematics lesson to a small group of pen pals. Last year, due to COVID protocols,
we used a smaller population of FDNSC and WCU students. We wrote letters between the
same groups both semesters and only taught lessons in the spring. The opportunity
for the same students to pen pal for two semesters rather than one was very beneficial,
and we wanted to follow that same format this year. By partnering with Francine Delany,
methods students had a chance to interact with students from a much more diverse setting
than is typically close to WCU’s geographic area. They also get a chance to plan,
implement, and assess their mathematics lesson plans for a problem-solving lesson
with actual student participants and obtain feedback from practicing teachers about
In the letters, our methods students learned about conceptual development in mathematics content. They saw real-life examples of students using invented algorithms and representing mathematics in multiple, creative ways that are current best practices in mathematics education. These students have been taught from the beginning in kindergarten at Francine Delany by teachers who encouraged problem-solving, critical thinking, and flexible thinking about mathematics and shared a constructivist/socio-cultural philosophy of teaching/learning mathematics (Van de Walle, 2012). Through the letters and the visit, besides the benefits of writing for purpose and conversing about mathematics, the Francine Delany students had the opportunity to pen pal with a college student, be introduced to college life, and be encouraged to attend college in the future. We know seven former pen pals from FDNSC who attend WCU as college students due to their experiences as pen pals. Francine Delany has three former WCU methods students teaching at FDNSC from our past pen pal programs and one FDNSC former student/pen pal teaching there also! This year, our students began writing to each other in the Fall 2022 semester and continued writing through May 10, 2023. They visited campus on April 27 and shared three related non-routine problems with their pen pals in small groups. The methods professor or one of the three teachers from FDNSC observed each of the four groups and received written feedback. The project was evaluated by a qualitative analysis of narratives of FDNSC student perceptions of the experience, an evaluation of the methods students’ plans and lessons, and final reflection narratives of the methods students and the teachers at Francine Delany New School for Children. The budget included requests for funding for the FDNSC teachers and students to travel by bus to WCU once this year (spring semester).
WCU Project Leads: Roya Scales and Kelly Tracy
LEA Project Leads: Kristin Menickelli
Additional Participants: Paula Fox-7th Grade Science, Carly Borchelt, 3rd Grade Teacher, Abigail Fox-AIG, Brenda Roughton, WCU-US, Kristin Holt-SCC/Early College (student science mentors), Carla McAllister-EdTech Coach, Leah Jorgensen-8th grade science, Lora Cox-IRB advisor, and CVS’s past science fair coordinator.
Two Cullowhee Valley School teachers were tasked with changing their instructional
assignments from ELA to Science. The pair of veteran "new science teachers" sought
professional development from WCU, who hosted the NC State Science Fair leaders presenting
"Inspiring Innovation in Student Research." The teachers decided to host a STEM Fair
at CVS and later involve students in the Regional Fair hosted at WCU. Being new
to teaching science, leading STEM fairs, or coaching student-led research in science or engineering, the teachers contacted their ongoing WCU literacy and teaching methods mentors, Roya and Kelly, to ask for support! "SOS!"
SOS: Support Our Science - Hand-On, Minds-On Learning with Real World Applications, was a school-university collaboration proposal, gratefully granted by SUTEP, aimed at coaching students in student-led research with the mission of learning about and making a difference in the world through STEM Fair projects in our community. Students began their research with guided inquiry activities in 6th and 7th grade to teach scientific process and engineering design processes, as was suggested in the collaborative professional development offered in September by leaders at WCU, The NC State Science Fair, and The NC School of Math and Science. From these experiences, the teachers coached the middle school student's participation in the STEM Fair through their science classes. The teachers helped students select topics of interest, design testable research questions, and consider data collection and analysis processes. Students in all K-8 classes were also invited to participate in Cullowhee Valley's K-8 STEM Fair.
WCU Project Lead: Amanda Chapman
LEA Project Lead: Dr. Kimberly Dechant, Director of Recruitment and Induction- Asheville City Schools
During the 2022-2023 academic year, members of the Ira B. Jones Elementary School in Asheville, NC, and WCU Partner Amanda Chapman attended the Building and Sustaining PLCs: A Framework for School Improvement professional development event facilitated by Dr. Anthony Muhammad. The professional development event was a two-day workshop that involved discussions and activities to build and sustain professional learning communities (PLCs) to improve school performance.
Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) support teachers in several ways:
The event successfully fostered collaboration, professional development, reflective practice, data analysis, instructional planning, and shared leadership among participants. It improved the partnership between WCU and Asheville City Schools and provided valuable insights into implementing effective PLCs for school improvement.
WCU Project Leads: Dr. Stacey Zimmerman, Dr. Sloan Despeaux, and Dr. Nathan Borchelt
LEA Project Lead: Charity Jamison
This SUTEP grant provided an opportunity for kindergarten through seventh grade students at Smokey Mountain Elementary School to experience math through fun, engaging, hands-on activities during a school-wide Math Festival. The sixth-grade students took the lead for each station and served as peer leaders for each of the stations. The sixth graders learned how to teach others each of the activities as well as questioning techniques to promote critical thinking.
WCU Project Lead: Jennifer Barrett-Tatum
LEA Project Lead: Daisy Stillwell
The 2022-2023 SUTEP award for this project included funding towards analysis and dissemination of findings from the 2021-2022 data collection. Funding from the present grant was used to support the second author, a first-grade teacher and co-lead of the school-based PLC, in traveling to Denver, Colorado to present findings at the Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers. Findings presented at ALER led to the development of a manuscript that will be submitted prior to Fall 2023 to a literacy journal.
WCU Project Lead: Sloan Despeaux
LEA Project Lead: Larissa Miller
SUTEP funding helped to support this project in order to build stronger ties with Western Carolina University and Jackson County Public Schools to serve the FIRST Robotics program at Smoky Mountain High School. We recruited 3 WCU student mentors from various departments to serve the FIRST Robotics Competition team. The project benefited participants of the FIRST program in JCPS through the mentoring provided by WCU students who are closer in age to our team members and on a path to career readiness. This project also benefits the students from Western Carolina University serving as mentors by giving them an opportunity to learn about the FIRST program, work in small groups as part of a dynamic team, and be able to carry those skills with them in their future careers.
WCU Project Leads: Dr. Pam Buskey, Teaching Associate Professor, with Dr. Carrie Rogers, Professor, and Dr. Adrienne Stuckey, Associate Professor
NC A&T Project Lead: Dr. Kellee Watkins, Assistant Professor, with Dr. Kimberly Bunch-Crump, Assistant Professor, and Dr. Karlin Burks, Assistant Professor
The Transformative Rural Urban Exchange is a partnership program between Western Carolina University (WCU) a rural, Predominantly White Institution (PWI) and North Carolina A&T State University (NC A&T SU) an urban Historically Black College/University (HBCU). The program brings undergraduate future educators together with education faculty to explore culturally relevant pedagogy in urban and rural communities. The institutions have been working together on the exchange for more than 20 years.
SUTEP helps fund the TRUE two-night and three-day retreat prior to the exchange program. At the retreat, students meet each other and begin to build shared community and trust around culture, race, bias, equity, cultural proficiency, and other topics that impact culturally responsive teaching practices. We find the retreat is crucial to preparing the students to gain the most from the campus exchange weeks that follow. This year, TRUE participants were able, for the first time since COVID, to participate in the full program, including visiting each other’s campuses and public schools.
WCU Project Lead: Dr. Myra Watson
LEA Project Leads: Shanna Buckner, Christy Pace, and Lu De Primo
The Johnston Elementary School is a diverse school with seven languages spoken within its walls. Located in a predominantly impoverished area, the average student is 1–2 years below grade level in reading and/or math. Despite the pandemic being a setback for many, Johnston's partnership with Western Carolina University (WCU) heavily contributed to students' current academic growth.
Lead teachers Shanna Buckner, Christy Pace, and Lu De Primo organized enriching field study experiences for the K–4 students. The field studies were carefully selected based on the content's relevance, the standards' alignment, and the students' interests. In response to these experiences, Johnston's students were motivated to develop a learning mindset. These experiences also sparked a curiosity about life beyond the confines of their community. Over time, students became more proficient in making meaningful connections, using higher vocabulary in both writing and speaking, and developing strong factual knowledge. More importantly, students are developing and utilizing lifelong academic and social skills.
WCU Project Lead: Terry D. Rose
LEA Project Lead: Britney Ross, Francine Delany New School for Children (Asheville)
The pen pal project is an ongoing twenty-two-year partnership between Francine Delany New School for Children and the EDEL 428/EDEL 429 mathematics methods instructor, Dr. Terry D. Rose. The project was interrupted in the Spring of 2020 by COVID. Prior to that, students in the methods courses and Francine Delany New School wrote letters all semester about themselves, their respective schools, and about mathematics. At the end of each semester, the teachers and students from FDNSC traveled to WCU by bus 98 miles round trip and the methods students met their pen pals and each WCU student taught a mathematics lesson to a small group of the pen pals. This year, due to COVID protocols, we used a smaller population of both FDNSC students and WCU students and we wrote letters between the same groups both semesters and taught lessons in the spring. By partnering with Francine Delany, methods students had a chance to interact with students from a much more diverse setting than is typically close to WCU’s geographic area. They also got a chance to plan, implement, and assess their mathematics lesson plans with real student participants as well as obtain feedback from practicing teachers about their plans and their teaching. In the letters, our methods students got to learn about conceptual development in mathematics content and see real life examples of students using invented algorithms and representing mathematics in multiple creative ways that are current best practice in mathematics education. These students from Francine Delany had been taught from the beginning in kindergarten by teachers who encouraged problem solving, critical thinking, and flexible thinking about mathematics, and who shared a constructivist/socio-cultural philosophy of teaching and learning mathematics (Van de Walle, 2012). Through the letters and the visit, besides the benefits of writing for purpose and conversing about mathematics, the Francine Delany students had the opportunity to pen pal with a college student and be introduced to college life and be encouraged to attend college in the future. We have had seven former pen pals from FDNSC that we know of attend WCU as college students. The project was evaluated by a qualitative analysis of narratives of FDNSC student perceptions of the experience, an evaluation of the methods students’ lesson plans and lessons, as well as final reflection narratives of the methods students and the teachers at Francine Delany New School for Children. The budget included requests for funding for the FDNSC teachers and students to travel by bus to WCU.
WCU Project Leads: Dr. Adrienne Stuckey (Assistant Professor), Dr. Pam Buskey (Teaching Associate Professor), and Dr. Carrie Rogers (Associate Professor)
NC A&T Project Lead: Dr. Kellee Watkins (Assistant Professor)
The Transformative Rural Urban Exchange, a partnership program between Western Carolina
University (WCU, a rural, Predominantly White Institution-PWI) and North Carolina
A&T State University (NC A&T SU, an urban Historically Black College/University-HBCU),
has continued their 20+ year relationship.
This year, TRUE participants were unable to participate in the full program, specifically visiting each other’s campuses and public schools, due to COVID-19. Therefore, we invested our SUTEP funding to spend an additional night and day at our retreat location. At the two-night and three-day retreat, students engaged in deep conversations leading to interpersonal understanding about culture, race, biases, equity, and other topics around intercultural understanding.
WCU Project Lead: Lori Unruh
WCU Participants: Ethan Schilling
Planning Consultants: Hannah Hyers, School Psychologist, Buncombe County Schools, Kieran Foxx, School Psychologist, Jackson County Schools
This SUTEP Grant provided funding for the purchase of two different books for each Professional Learning Community (PLC) participant and a small stipend for participant attendance at one in-person meeting at WCU. A total of seven school psychologists from the region completed the PLC. Meetings focused on discussing information from the books, planning for peer review of psychoeducational reports, and developing a report writing worksheet based on the information discussed. PLC members will continue to support one another in ongoing work in this area.
WCU Project Lead: Roya Scales, Professor, School of Teaching and Learning
LEA Project Lead: Kristin Menickelli, 5th Grade Teacher. Cullowhee Valley Schools
Additional Participants: 5th Grade Teachers: Abby Kostak, Josh Pierce, and Jennifer Patten(Lead Teacher), Abigail Fox(AIG/Enrichment), Caitlin Love(EC), and Michael Bonen Clark (4th Grade).
In 2020-2021, Cullowhee Valley School 5th grade teachers crafted three connected text sets as a way to explore themes of social justice and ignite “changemakers” by way of engagement through reading and writing workshop. This year we used funding from the SUTEP Partnership Grant to travel with Dr. Scales and Dr. Tracy to present our work at the Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers Conference. We collaborated to present our work at a round table discussion about teaching with three text sets, using Social Justice Standards, and creating an environment in order to explore diversity and social justice issues and grow our work as changemakers. The round table discussion centered around teaching context, school climate, and relationship building with administration, parents and students as key components to facilitating sensitive and sometimes difficult conversations, especially during divisive times. The text set celebrated diversity, empowered students to make a difference, and created equity and inclusion through access to characters facing different social and environmental issues and personal challenges as they navigated the world as changemakers.
WCU Project Lead: Jennifer Barrett-Tatum, Associate Professor, School of Teaching and Learning
LEA Project Lead: Daisy Stilwell, Maiden Elementary School
Additional Participants: Melissa Faetz, Instructor, School of Teaching and Learning, WCU
Four primary grade teachers at one suburban/rural elementary school participated in a four-month Professional Learning Community (PLC) for improving vocabulary instruction across the content areas. The PLC was led through a collaboration between a WCU literacy instructor from the School of Teaching and Learning (STL) and a former STL graduate in her last year as a beginning teacher. The collaborating PLC leads co-taught three 90 minutes sessions, one per month over three months. Each teacher selected up to three out of the five instructional strategies presented at the PLC to implement into the classroom. Teachers gathered student work samples, wrote in reflection journals, reflected together in the first half hour of each PLC, and wrote a final personal reflection upon completion of the PLC. Overall findings indicate that when engaged in the collaborative PLC, teachers increased instructional planning intentionality and created more focused, purposeful instructional opportunities with a wider variety of materials and higher levels of student engagement. Students were noted as having increased ownership in their language learning and studied vocabulary in greater depth and intensity, which the teachers noted led to more high quality work samples and increased comprehension of informational texts.
WCU Project Lead: Kelly Tracy, Associate Professor, School of Teaching and Learning
LEA Project Lead: Lydia Foust, Cullowhee Valley Elementary School
Additional Participants: Kim Carpenter, Teacher Assistant
In Spring 2022, this project brought together Mrs. Lydia Foust’s first grade class at Cullowhee Valley School with Dr. Tracy’s WCU Language Arts Methods Course. As part of their required reading curriculum, the first-graders were engaged in a thematic study about animals. To coincide with this unit, these first graders selected an animal, researched it, and composed an informational text about the animal. Their writings were collectively published as one book and each student received a printed copy of this book paid for through the support of this SUTEP grant. While students were writing their text, they were partnered with WCU teacher candidates (TCs) as feedback partners. Using Flipgrid as the primary communication tool, first graders were supported by TCs in their writing process. This allowed for TCs to experience first-hand the writing development of first graders, practice offering feedback, and consider asset-based instruction. As a culmination of the project, the two groups came together for an authors’ celebration held on campus at WCU.
WCU Project Lead: Michael Schallock, WCU Professor of Music Education
Blue Ridge Early College(BREC) Lead: Sarah Hall, Music Teacher
SUTEP funds have supported and improved music instruction for the students of Blue Ridge Early College in Cashiers, NC while providing the opportunity for a preservice Music Education student currently enrolled in the Music Education program at Western Carolina University to practice teaching in a school setting. Since there is only one middle school music class at Blue Ridge, and just one music teacher, and not all middle schoolers want to be in band, assistance enables band students to be taught separately while others participate in general music or chorus. This separation allows for the higher level of concentrated effort needed for students to make adequate musical progress on a band instrument. Blue Ridge Early College has been an ongoing recipient of grants through Western Carolina University’s School & University Teacher Education Partnership administered through the College of Education and Allied Professions since 2015 as they have been in the process of restoring music to the curriculum of Blue Ridge Early College. For a decade prior to hiring a music teacher for both Blue Ridge School and the Early College in fall 2015, there had been no music classes offered for grades 7 and up. All of the SUTEP funds are used to pay the student an hourly stipend and mileage payment.
Check out our video.
WCU Project Lead: Melissa Faetz
LEA Project Lead: Tyler Faetz, Macon County Schools
Additional Participants: Rus Binkley--community member, Dorothea Stewart--Haywood County Schools
During the 2020-2021 school year, a joint education taskforce of the Haywood and Jackson
County NAACP chapters was formed to create a professional development series focused
on equity and inclusion for educators in four local school districts: Haywood, Macon,
Jackson, and Swain. This project built off the foundational professional development
day that occurred during the fall 2019 school year in Haywood County. In that project,
seven WCU faculty (and other community-based professionals) designed and led sessions
focused on race, equity, and inclusion initiatives for schools. For the current year,
the joint task force offered professional development training, virtually or in-person,
to 40 school personnel from the four WNC school districts. The six sessions that were
offered for the 2021-2022 school year included:
● Unpacking Implicit Bias
● Aspects of Culturally Responsive Teaching
● Using Children’s Literature to Address Diversity
● Moving ESL Learners from the Margins
● Building Classroom Community in K-6
● Facilitating Civil Discourse in the Classroom
● Safe and Affirming Schools for LGBTQ+ Students
In addition to including new participants, previous participants served as co-facilitators for the Communities of Practice. After attending these sessions, the participating educators met in small Communities of Practice facilitated by one of the presenters and a co-leader from the school participants. During these facilitated meetings, participants reflected, created plans of action within their schools or classrooms, and began taking steps to build more equitable classroom and school environments for students. The funding from this grant provided a small stipend to support local school personnel as they participated in the Communities of Practice.
WCU Project Lead: Brandi Hinnant-Crawford, Associate Professor of Educational Research
LEA Project Lead: Leigh Ann Alford-Keith, Wake County Public School System(WCPSS) Northern Area - Green ES, Millbrook ES, Durant Road ES
Additional Participants: Maria Rosa Rangel, Director of Family and Community Engagement, WCPSS
During the fall of 2021, a group of educators from Raleigh, NC gathered to study how to make family engagement practices more equitable. The COVID-19 pandemic had revealed both further inequities in education and an undoubtedly critical need to partner with all families for student success. This improvement science initiative was designed to address four critical causes of inequitable family engagement practices in an urban district: limited training for educators on family engagement, a narrow school-centric definition of engagement, deficit beliefs that educators hold about families, and lack of trust between families and schools. There were two interventions consisting of professional learning for a cohort of teachers from Title I Elementary schools and the increased use of virtual tools to engage more Families of Color. Focus groups with teachers and families combined with a weekly practical measure provided data for qualitative and quantitative analyses of the initiative. The immediate aim of the initiative was that family engagement activities implemented by the teachers will reach more Families of Color. The ultimate aim was to increase partnership between schools and Families of Color to allow schools to better serve Students of Color and reduce opportunity gaps.
WCU Project Lead: Melissa Faetz
LEA Project Lead: John DeVille, Macon County Schools
During the 2020-2021 school year, a joint education taskforce of the Haywood and Jackson
County NAACP chapters was formed to create a professional development series focused
on equity and inclusion for educators in four local school districts: Haywood, Macon,
Jackson, and Swain. This project built off the foundational professional development
day that occurred during the fall 2019 school year in Haywood County. In that project,
seven WCU faculty (and other community-based professionals) designed and led sessions
focused on race, equity, and inclusion initiatives for schools. Early in the spring
2021 semester, the taskforce collected applications and invited 44 local educators
to participate in a series of professional development sessions followed by Communities
of Practice. A kickoff event entitled We Can’t Wait! Equity Now! was held on February 25 with Dr. Ronda Taylor-Bullock serving as a guest speaker.
Dr. Taylor-Bullock is the founder of we are (Working to Extend Anti-Racist Education). Following the kickoff, nine WCU faculty
led six professional development sessions. Local district educators chose three sessions
The six sessions offered to local educators included:
• Unpacking Implicit Bias
• Aspects of Culturally Responsive Teaching
• Using Children’s Literature to Address Diversity
• Moving ESL Learners from the Margins
• Teacher Identity and Practice
• Building Classroom Community in K-6
After attending these sessions, the participating educators met virtually in small Communities of Practice, facilitated by one of the presenters. During these facilitated meetings, participants had the opportunity to reflect, create plans for action within their schools or classrooms, and begin taking steps to build more equitable classroom and school environments for students. The SUTEP grant supported this important work by providing stipends as well as providing the text Open Minds to Equality: A Sourcebook of Learning Activities to Affirm Diversity and Promote Equity (4th Edition) to each participating educator.
Participants: Kelly R. Kelley, Alexandra Raxter, UP Students and graduates, and community partners.
Inclusive Postsecondary Education (IPSE) is a life-changing opportunity for young
intellectual disability (ID) as it gives them an opportunity to work on independent living skills,
career skills and goals, social skills, and increase their self-confidence and self-determination to
become successful and independent adults after graduation. Over the years of working with
families of individuals with ID and directly with young adults with ID completing high school, it
has become increasingly concerning how many students and families are unaware that college
can even be an option, finding themselves at the end of high school confused and overwhelmed.
This project allowed us to build relations with schools and Exceptional Children (EC)
departments throughout North Carolina, inform them about IPSE options and experiences of
current and past students, and help inform their transition practices to best prepare parents,
students, and teachers for successful transition from high school to adulthood. Overall, EC
teachers we partnered with saw a difference in their transition practices and thoughts for what
students can accomplish after they graduate high school and students have continued to ask new
questions about college and other options for after high school. Over 300 teachers, students, and
parents were directly exposed to these presentations, and many of the presentations were
recorded and sent out far beyond that.
Participants: Kelly R. Kelley, Alexandra Raxter, Undergraduates, UP Students, community partners, and agencies.
The UP program is a fully inclusive, two-year program for young adults with ID where
the students live on campus, audit college courses with their peers, work at least 10 hours a
week, and gain a variety of community and independent living skills. To accomplish these goals,
pre-service teachers and related service professionals (natural supports) support the UP students
in a variety of ways to help them build the necessary skills to be successful in these areas. While
most of the time the UP students are doing their own thing with the natural supports they choose,
on Fridays and Saturdays they choose to come together and enjoy what they call ‘Weekend
Warrior’. Typically, this has been a chance for them to just hang out together, play games, and
go out into the community. This project has allowed us to take Weekend Warrior to the next level by allowing the pre-service teachers and related service professionals that support them to gain experience
supporting them in more of a community setting, along with providing opportunities to increase
relationships with community members and teach the importance of genuine service-learning to
their surrounding community. Throughout the semester, give back activities included
participating in food drives, volunteering at the animal shelter, creating wellness bags for those
in need of hygiene supplies, creating cards and paintings of appreciation for the elderly and first
responders, along with campus and community trash cleanups. Overall, the UP students and
supports came out of this project with a new view of themselves and the community around
them, along with a greater understanding of helping others in need. Many of the UP students
realized how much they can make a difference in their community by doing small tasks and had
plans to continue that in their hometowns over the summer break.
Cullowhee Valley School
WCU Project Lead: Kelly Tracy
LEA Project Leads: Kristin Menickelli, Katheryn Kantz, and Jennifer Patten
The 5th grade teachers at Cullowhee Valley School crafted three connected text sets as a way to explore themes of social justice and ignite “changemakers” by way of engagement through reading and writing workshop in a face to face, remote, and hybrid learning combination. Being the team’s first year teaching together, planning and implementing the project was also a wonderfully engaging and bonding experience for the teachers! Learning the themes in texts would help pique students’ interest in
social justice issues such as environmental injustice, interpersonal injustice, and injustices in power. Students were invited, as we peeked into the experiences of others through book characters featuring lots of nonfiction, to think critically about how the courageous actions of people in our community, or in the world, can make positive changes in many ways. The first text set along with a zoom talk (Introduction to Social Justice: Finding / Lighting Your Fire Inside) with WCU’s Social Justice expert Cyndy Caravelis invited students to grow intrapersonally. Students then had a more in-depth study of changemaker experiences by working in small groups paired with teacher facilitators of literature circle books. The readings gave us “ideas to wrestle with” as a way to think about ourselves as individuals, groups, society, and the world and shaped our perspective beyond just our own 5th grade life experiences. As we read, wrote, discussed and planned, we saw that we often changed our minds or better understood ourselves and others, gaining empathy and a desire to use citizen actions to become changemakers in many ways. Students gained efficacy as readers and participants in an interdependent world.
Project Leaders: Michael Boatright (WCU), Jenny Zimmerman (North Buncombe High School), Morgan Denton (North Buncombe High School)
The project will place class sets of adolescent literature novels for two English Language Arts teachers at North Buncombe High School in Buncombe County, North Carolina, for use in their classrooms for the 2021-2022 school year. The participants in the project seek to upend and disrupt the toxic masculinity often affirmed in adolescent literature novels in a rural high school in Western North Carolina by replacing those extant books with the intentionally selected titles for this study—replete with male characters who offer exposure to an alternative, less toxic brand of being in the world—and that work toward their shared goals of 1) using literature that teaches empathy, compassion, and respect for others, 2) connecting male readers with role models who redefine what it means to be male in today’s society, and 3) encouraging all students to become stronger, more confident readers.
Project participants will meet twice monthly during the spring and summer of 2021 and will dialogue via email and/or video conferencing to talk about how these titles might be used in their classrooms at North Buncombe High School for the academic year 2021-2022. The purchased adolescent literature novels will be used in two English Language Arts classes throughout the school year, and each student will have a copy that she/he may read in class during instructional time and may take home while the novel is under study. Project participants, in turn, will be reading practitioner texts to inform not only their own evolving knowledge of how adolescent literature can interrupt toxic masculinity, but also for teaching strategies for how the purchased adolescent literature novels can be used effectively in the classroom. Project participants will communicate frequently regarding how the project is proceeding during the school year, what issues may be surfacing, how they are navigating the novels during instruction, and how students are responding to the books. As a qualitative measurement, students will participate in pre- and post-surveys that ask how these books have or have not made a difference in how they perceive masculinity and in turn femininity as students at North Buncombe High School.
WCU Project Leads: Dr. Pam Buskey, Assistant Professor, Dr. Adrienne Stuckey, Assistant Professor, and Dr. Carrie Rogers, Associate Professor
NC A&T Project Lead: Dr. Kellee Watkins, Assistant Professor
The Transformative Rural Urban Exchange, a partnership program between Western Carolina University (WCU) a rural, Predominantly White Institution (PWI) and North Carolina A&T State University (NC A&T SU) an urban Historically Black College/University (HBCU), has continued their 20+ year relationship.
This year, TRUE participants were unable to participate in travel due to COVID-19. Therefore, we invested
our SUTEP funding to co-sponsor a webinar about diversity, equity, and inclusion in public education by Dr. Ronda Taylor Bullock entitled, "We Can't Wait: Racial Equity Now!” Dr. Taylor Bullock is a former high school English teacher and the cofounder and lead curator of we are (weare-nc.org), a non-profit that provides anti-racism training for children, parents and educators. The event recording is publicly available.
WCU Project Leads: Amy Stringer, Sarah Lowell, Nicole Kaysing, Tom Watterson, Gayle Maddox, Bob Beaudet, and Dan Grube
The SUTEP grant enabled 30 HPE student majors in the Health and Physical Education
program to participate in the North Carolina Society of Health and Physical Educators
(NC-SHAPE) annual convention that was held via Zoom, November 2, 3, and on demand
through November 2020. Our students were required to attend at least 4 sessions.
A strong indication of the value of this conference to our students is that forty
percent of our students attended 6 or more sessions. Overall, students rated the
experience 4.53 on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the highest).
Jackson County Public Schools - Fairview Elementary School
WCU Project Lead: Dr. Roya Scales, Professor of Literacy Education
LEA Project Lead: Ms. Tori Golden, Third Grade Teacher
Summary written by Ms. Tori Golden:
According to educational researcher, Steve Filkin, “Reading is a way to gain exposure to and develop tentative
understandings of content” (Filkin, 2018). Dr. Scales and I designed a literacy-based science unit that taught my third-grade students comprehension strategies and skills that increased their overall comprehension and conceptual knowledge of the Solar System. The unit allowed students to research one of the following topics: the Sun, Planets, Earth, Moon, or Stars. Students researched, read, planned, wrote, collaborated, evaluated, reflected and produced tangible evidence of their learning. Over the course of the project Dr. Scales and I planned the unit, gathered resources for student use, and implemented research-based comprehension strategies within the science unit. We collected and analyzed data to track students’ comprehension growth. After teaching the unit and completing the final assessment students were able to read, understand, and write about third-grade level informational texts that examined a topic and conveyed ideas and information clearly. Students were also able to ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, use text features to locate information, and use information gained from illustrations and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text.
Asheville Charter School: Francine Delany New School for Children
WCU Project Lead: Dr. Terry Rose, Assistant Professor, School of Teaching and Learning
LEA Project Faculty: Buffy Fowler (Operations Coordinator), Jennie Robinette (K), Britney Ross (1st), Jessica Roberts (2nd), Roslyn Clapp (3rd), Naomi Marotti (4th), Robyn Moser (5th/ 6th), Brian Pesci (5th/6th), and Tom Robertson (7th/8th) Teachers/Staff of Francine Delany New School for Children in Asheville, NC
The pen pal project is an ongoing twenty-year endeavor/partnership between Francine Delany New School for Children and the EDEL 428/EDEL 429 mathematics methods instructor, Terry D. Rose. Students in the methods courses and Francine Delany New School write letters all semester about themselves, their respective schools, and about mathematics. At the end of the semester, the teachers and students from FDNSC travel to WCU by bus 98 miles round trip and the methods students meet their pen pals and each WCU student teaches a mathematics lesson to a small group of the pen pals.
By partnering with Francine Delany, methods students have a chance to interact with students from a much more diverse setting than is typically close to WCU’s geographic area. They also get a chance to plan, implement, and assess their mathematics lesson plans with real student participants as well as obtain feedback from practicing teachers about their plans and their teaching. In the letters, our methods students get to learn about conceptual development in mathematics content and see real life examples of students using invented algorithms and representing mathematics in multiple creative ways that are current best practice in mathematics education. These students have been taught from the beginning with kindergarten at Francine Delany by teachers who encouraged problem solving, flexible thinking about mathematics, and who shared a constructivist/socio-cultural philosophy of teaching/learning mathematics (Van de Walle, 2012). Through the letters and the visit, besides the benefits of writing for purpose and conversing about mathematics, the Francine Delany students have the opportunity to pen pal with a college student and be introduced to college life and be encouraged to attend college in the future. We have had seven former pen pals from FDNSC that we know of attend WCU as college students due to their experiences as a pen pal.
The Enhancement of School Music Program Through Assistance from Pre-Service Music Instructors
Jackson County Public Schools - Blue Ridge Early College
WCU Project Lead: Dr. Michael Schallock, Professor of Tuba and Music Education
LEA Project Lead: Sarah Hall, Music Teacher
This project supported music instruction for 7th and 8th grade band students at Blue Ridge Early College in Cashiers, NC while providing instructional practice in a school setting for music education students currently enrolled in Western Carolina University. A group of students from the WCU chapter of the National Association for Music Education taught small groups of beginning band students. Funding from the SUTEP grant program provided reimbursement for student travel expenses.
Blue Ridge Early College is in the process of rebuilding a band program after 15 years of absence from the curriculum. Progress has been made since the hiring of a full time music instructor, but since the teacher is responsible for teaching for both the Early College and Blue Ridge School, grades Pre-K -12, assistance is needed in order to offer band as a part of the regular school day.
By enlisting the aid of music education majors from WCU, not only has this enabled band instruction to take place, it has also provided practical, supervised experience in teaching in a public school environment. The project enabled pre-service teachers to be part of an educational project benefitting a low-income population which is culturally diverse (30 percent Hispanic) giving them experience working in areas of need which they may encounter in their future employment.
Ten student members of WCU’s chapter of National Association for Music Instruction helped with the project; some came on Tuesdays and others on Wednesdays. On these days the middle school students who are learning band instruments were divided into small groups taught by the WCU students, giving them more direct and intensive instruction than they would have received in a full class combining band students with general music students. This enabled the Blue Ridge students to achieve a higher level of music proficiency.
The Blue Ridge students looked forward to working with the WCU students and enjoyed their time together. All of the students showed good progress on their instruments.
Western Carolina University and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
WCU Project Lead: Dr. Pam Buskey, Assistant Professor and Dr. Adrienne Stuckey, Assistant Professor
NC A&T Project Lead: Dr. Nakeshia Williams, Assistant Professor
The Transformative Rural Urban Exchange, a partnership program between Western Carolina University (WCU) a
rural, Predominantly White Institution (PWI) and North Carolina A&T State University (NC A&T SU) an urban Historically Black College/University (HBCU), has continued their 20-year relationship. For the 3rd year, TRUE participants met for an overnight retreat at a central location, bringing pre-service teachers together for the purpose of deepening students’ personal cultural understanding of one another to deepen the weeklong student exchange program usually held spring semester every year. The addition of this retreat supports the program’s intention of promoting diversity and cultural responsiveness in the classroom. Some students noted in journal entries after the retreat: “Even though we had a tough conversation about racial differences everyone was willing to share their opinions,” and “My identify has been affirmed but it was also challenged.”
Because of COVID-19, we were unable to complete the full exchange. Therefore, the
impact of the full program was limited.
HPE Pre-Service Teacher and Professional Education Through NCAAHPERD-SM Participation
Western Carolina University - The School of Teaching and Learning - Health and Physical Education
WCU Project Lead: Dr. Amy Stringer, Assistant Professor
Additional WCU Participants: Sarah Lowell, Adjunct Faculty and Tom Watterson, Associate Professor
The SUTEP grant enabled Interns from The Health and Physical Education program to participate in the North
Carolina Alliance of Athletics, Health, Physical Education, Recreation, Dance and Sports Management (NCAAHPERD-SM) annual convention in Winston Salem, NC, October 23 - October 25, 2019. Our interns…:
The impact of the grant on HPE student interns
Students were given a convention pre-test/post-test and reflection assignments during the HPE 496-Intern 2 seminar and Intern 1 seminar with Dr. Bob Beaudet. The test included items measuring student intern knowledge of the professional association, indicators of professionalism, professional development, content knowledge, as well as
experiences collaborating with peers and faculty, and feelings about the benefit of attendance. Post-test results indicated a strong and comprehensive benefit to all students in all of the categories examined. Data suggest that conference attendance is perceived as beneficial and increased students’ HPE related content knowledge, understanding of “professionalism”, knowledge of NCAAHPERD-SM (the professional organization), experience of “professionalism”, and noted positive interactions with other student organization members, professional members/teachers/faculty, key note speakers, and vendors.
Jackson County Public Schools - The Catamount School & Other NC Public Schools K-12
WCU faculty: Dr. Russ Curtis, Professor
WCU Counseling Graduate Students: Emily Nowels and Casey Mock
LEA Project Lead: Katy Elders, Enrichment Coordinator
The counseling program at Western Carolina University, in collaboration with K-12 western North Carolina public schools, is pleased to present the inaugural issue of Masterpeace: A Wellness & Art Magazine, https://fliphtml5.com/pdhbe/mggo. The purpose of this magazine is to celebrate student art, normalize adolescent experiences, provide mental health and wellness education, and increase conversations among students, parents, and teachers about the importance of seeking mental health care. Integrating art into a wellness magazine can help normalize the distress we all experience, while destigmatizing the need to seek help. Furthermore, an art magazine dedicated to wellness has the potential to reach a much broader audience than a traditional mental health awareness campaign, as illustrated by the 1,700 times this magazine was read within the first 2 weeks of publication.
Forty-eight students from 15 western North Carolina public schools submitted 69 works of art, poetry, and photography for consideration of publication in Masterpeace: A Wellness & Art Magazine. From the 69 submitted works, 55 were published in the inaugural issue of masterpeace.
From the Smokies to the Rockies: Mountain People Mountain Lives Goes to Salt Lake City
Jackson County Public Schools - Smoky Mountain High Schoool
WCU Project Lead: Dr. Alex Macaulay, Associate Professor and Dr. Elizabeth McRae, Associate Professor
LEA Project Lead: Pamela Shuler, Social Studies Teacher
For over 5 years, the Appalachian Oral History Project (AOHP)—a collective, multi-year project involving WCU’s History Department, Hunter Library’s Digital Collections, and Smoky Mountain High School students—has recorded, documented, and made public the oral histories of regional residents. In October 2019, a group of these students presented a poster showcasing this work at the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Oral History Association. Smoky Mountain was 1 of only 3 high schools and the only one outside the state of Utah participating in this international conference.
Their poster highlighted efforts by the AOHP to preserve the stories and memories of long-time residents, recent immigrants, African Americans, Latinos, farmers, nurses, preachers, teachers, veterans, entertainers, and professional athletes. The students explained to leading scholars in the field how these oral histories promoted a substantial reimagining of Appalachia and its inhabitants, from a region and people traditionally defined by their isolation to a potentially boundless place with an identity not limited by geography, race, religion, class, politics, sexuality, or nationality. Their work was very well received and was highlighted in the December 2019 edition of the OAH Newsletter.
In all, the students emerged from this project with an expanded view of the world, their tiny mountain community, and their own place in each. They marveled at the big stories that happen in small places as they uncovered Appalachian lives that are both rooted in this place and shaped by national and international experiences. As one of the students put it, “This oral history project has taught me to listen to, appreciate, and embrace the diversity of my community. I am proud to live where I do.”
Macon County Schools
WCU Project Lead: Mr. Jason Love, Associate Director, Highlands Bological Station
LEA Project Lead: Ms. Jennifer Love, STEM Coordinator
The Field Science Techniques Expedition is an overnight experience that will focus on middle school age (6th – 8th)
students who are interested in learning more about the scientific method and field science techniques. Macon County Schools STEM program and the Highlands Biological Station, which is a multi-campus center of Western Carolina University, partner with other local researchers, scientists, and educators to provide a diverse experience highlighting local careers and continuing education opportunities. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the expedition has been put on hold until next school year (2020-2021). Our intent is to offer this program again in Spring 2021.
Identifying Our Assests! - Responding to Racial Diversity in Haywood County Schools
WCU Project Lead: Dr. Lisa Bloom, School of Teaching and Learning
LEA Project Lead: Ms. Jill Barker, Assistant Superintendent
The NAACP education committee of Haywood County met with administrators to plan a day-long professional
development on responding to diversity in schools for teachers, counselors, social workers, and principals at all levels. Five WCU faculty (and other community-based professionals) helped to design and lead sessions for faculty
development to strengthen the commitment to teaching to the entire demographic enrolled in the district. This professional development day was held on Friday, November 22, 2020 in Waynesville at the Folkmoot Friendship Center and the neighboring school conference center.
Anticipated outcomes were 1) Enhancement of participant understanding of the importance of considering race in planning and instruction; and 2) expanding knowledge of all aspects of student diversity; and 3) planning and acquiring teaching resources to creatively and appropriately respond to student diversity.
In addition to district superintendents and many NAACP members (who also participated in sessions, and volunteered in set-up, providing and serving food, and clean-up), 34 school personnel attended.
North Carolina NAACP president, Dr. Anthony Spearman delivered the plenary address: Why we cannot afford to forget history. Dr. Spearman reviewed the years of minority struggle in North Carolina to achieve educational access and equality for all students and emphasized the fragility of these gains. Following the address, Superintendent Nolte acknowledged it as a summation of a “very painful but accurate history.”
The six sessions (each offered twice) addressed the following:
Reducing Challenging Behaviors through Sensory-based Interventions Activities
Swain County Schools: Bright Adventures Pre-School
WCU Project Lead: Dr. Cathy Grist, Professor
LEA Project Lead: Trishia Chapman, Director, Bright Adventures Preschool and Tiffany Walker, Teaching Assistant and BK Student
The purpose of this project was to gain a better understanding of the impact of engaging in structured and regularly
scheduled sensory-based activities on attention and self-regulation skills, as well as, challenging behaviors. The goals of the project included (1) determining if engaging in structured and regularly scheduled sensory activities decreases challenging behaviors, (2) determining if structured and regularly scheduled sensory activities increase attention skills, and (3) determining if there is a relationship between children who engage in structured and regularly scheduled sensory activities and increased self-regulation skills. Children in the program were identified as needing services, based on scores obtained on the screening assessments, which included the Devereuax Early Childhood Assessment for Preschoolers- Second Edition (DECA-2) (LeBuffe & Naglieri, 2012) and the Sensory Profile 2 (Dunn, 2014). The project took place at Bright Adventures Preschool Program, which is part of the Swain County Public School System. A total of 93 students were screened with both assessment measures as a pre-test and 41 students were identified as being eligible to participate in individualized interventions. Interventions were developed to be provided individually and in small groups, and were differentiated for each child, based on their needs, according to assessment data. Interventions did not take place, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.