An Enduring Journey

Career Path Takes Educator Throughout Her Home State

Leigh Stevens Belford
Teaching Instructor, College of Education
East Carolina University
Greenville, North Carolina

Department: Mathematics Education, Science Education and Instructional Technology (MSITE)

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Soon after Leigh Belford began to teach in the classroom, she realized she wanted to improve her instruction abilities. She turned to East Carolina University’s College of Education, where she became a member of an NSF-funded pilot group working on an elementary mathematics add-on licensure program that would lead to students’ also earning their master’s degrees.

That experience, Belford says, helped better prepare her for teaching mathematics in elementary school.

“The interwoven programs supported me in developing a deep understanding of the elementary mathematics content as well as high-leverage teaching practices that would help me provide my own students with a robust understanding of mathematics,” she says. “My work at ECU led me to become a school- and county-level mathematics leader.”

Empowered with that advanced training and knowledge, she became a school-level mathematics instructional coach and served on the mathematics leadership team in Cumberland County, North Carolina. Along the way, she made connections with mathematics educators throughout the state.

In time, she would return to her alma mater as an elementary mathematics education teaching instructor in the College of Education. It is a career in which she enjoys collaborating, from her work in the classroom to her involvement in grants that produce resources benefiting elementary educators both locally and far from home.

“It is an honor to be part of groups that have had significant impacts on the daily learning of elementary students in our state and nation,” she says. “I would also say that being a teaching instructor in the COE has allowed me to make significant contributions to my professors.

“With the help of all of my COE colleagues, we continue to produce amazing novice teachers who are well prepared to take on their roles as strong new teachers in elementary schools throughout the state.”