2022-24 PLA Cohort
Pitt County Schools
Cornelius E. Battle Jr. attended Winston Salem State University in Winston Salem, NC (North Carolina) where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a minor in sociology in May of 2012. Right after graduation, he then enrolled in the Teacher Education Program (TEP) at North Carolina Central University in Durham, NC. In 2014, he graduated from North Carolina Central University with a second degree in Middle Grades Education with a concentration in English.
In the fall of 2014, Cornelius began his teaching career at Farmville Middle School in Farmville, NC where he taught 7th and 8th grade English for 8 years. During his time at Farmville Middle School, Cornelius served on the AVID Site Team, served as 8th grade team chair twice, served on the School Leadership Team, served as PLC (Professional Learning Community) facilitator for the 8th grade English Department, served as a mentor for the Young Men’s Empowerment Club, and served 4 years as boys and girls track coach. Cornelius also became a certified AVID teacher in 2016 and served as an 8th grade AVID teacher for 3 years in conjunction with his duties as an English teacher.
In May 2022, Cornelius completed the Pitt County Teacher Leadership Institute, a two-year program which strives to produce teacher leaders in the classroom. During his last year at Farmville Middle School, Cornelius spearheaded a Saturday Academy program for 8th graders to increase equity for students who needed additional help academically outside of school. Cornelius was accepted into the East Carolina University MSA (Master of School Administration) (Master of School Administration) program and Principal’s Fellows Program in 2022.
As of July 1, 2022, Cornelius serves as an assistant principal at J.H. Rose High School in the heart of Greenville, NC, serving grades 9-12. While at Rose, Cornelius has enjoyed building relationships with his students and colleagues and working with all stakeholders to ensure that students maximize and utilize their full potential.
As an ECU (East Carolina University) Principal Fellow, Cornelius wants to be as effective as possible and to understand all the workings within a school and school district. He wants to work with community members and staff in continuing to make Rose High School a school the students are proud to be a part of. He genuinely believes that positive relationships go a long way and something as a simple greeting can make a student’s day and change their lives for the better. One of his favorite tenets to live by are “students do not care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Pender County Schools
Joanna Boyles earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Concord University in 2006. She worked as a contractor through Child Protective Services in West Virginia, providing clients with Adult Life and Parenting Skills classes. In 2016 she completed her Master’s in Education in School Counseling from Liberty University and became a full-time school counselor.
Joanna worked as a school counselor for six years. Her career began at the elementary school level, where she developed a counseling curriculum for students in grades K-5. In 2018, Joanna and her family moved from West Virginia to North Carolina where she began working at Topsail Middle School as an In-School Suspension teacher. Shortly after, her title shifted to Student Support Coordinator where she was able to assist at-risk students. She also taught several enrichment classes on topics such as Mindfulness and College and Career Exploration, as well as served as the backup testing coordinator.
In 2020, Joanna transferred to Topsail High School to work as a high school counselor. There she created schedules for students, assisted in college applications and recommendations, and was the lead for local scholarships for seniors. After a year and a half, Joanna transferred back to Topsail Middle School to fill their school counselor position.
At the start of the 2022-2023 school year Joanna became an Assistant Principal at Topsail Middle School as a principal fellow through the Pirate Leadership Academy through East Carolina University. She feels incredibly honored and excited about this opportunity and hopes to acquire strong leadership skills to enhance the educational opportunities within the schools for both students and staff.
Joanna lives in Hampstead, North Carolina, with her husband and two children. She and her family are outdoor enthusiasts and love to spend time on the water or the trails.
Washington County Schools
Cordelia Breiner is a proud rural educator who has been serving Eastern North Carolina in various capacities since 2016. A multiracial woman, Cordelia was born in Tonga and raised in Wyoming, MI before attending Michigan State University. She graduated from Michigan State University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and found her way to North Carolina by way of Teach for America-Eastern North Carolina (TFA-ENC). Cordelia taught 6th grade math for four years in Lenoir County before transitioning to Washington County Schools (WCS) in the Fall of 2020 to serve as the Middle School Instructional Coach, District Instructional Technology Facilitator, and most recently the WCS District Multi-tiered System of Support (MTSS) Coordinator.
Through her teaching experiences, Cordelia discovered that she has a real knack for facilitating adult learning opportunities for schools, organizations, and companies. Since 2018, she has presented over 500 hours of professional development at local, regional, state, and national level conferences. Her session attendees have included teachers, principals, superintendents, consultants, directors, and professors like Dr. Jill Biden (First Lady), Michael Bonner (Ron Clark Academy), Liz Kleinrock (Teaching with Tolerance Award Winner). Presentation topics have included educational technology innovations and integration, content-specific sessions, student engagement, trauma and resilience and taking care of the whole educator.
Cordelia has been recognized for a variety of grants that serve all stakeholders. She received $6,000 in May 2022 from the Simple Gifts Fund to support the arts program in Washington County, $224,660 for the 21st CCLC Competitive Summer Mini-Grant Program awarded in Summer 2021, and a $497 grant for a trauma-informed classroom library from the Lenoir County Education Foundation. She has been spotlighted by the NC New Teacher Support Program, Teacher of the Month and Profound Lady of the Month.
Cordelia is gearing up to redesign the educational field as a future school administrator through East Carolina University’s PIRATE Leadership Academy. While she may be the feature for different awards, she continues to thank her village for their support. She believes her success reflects the community that pours into her. Outside of work, Cordelia loves diamond painting, cheap and exciting travels, and reading young adult books.
Hertford County Schools
Shereka Chamblee obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in French from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 2005 and Master of Arts in Teaching from East Carolina University in 2009.
Before entering the teaching profession, Shereka worked with students who struggled in math and reading at Sam D. Bundy Elementary School’s intervention program. She entered the Master of Arts in Teaching program where she completed her student internship in Kindergarten at H.B. Sugg Elementary School. Shereka has taught 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade in Pitt and Hertford County Schools. She was recognized as Teacher of the Month at Coker Wimberly Elementary School during the 2014-2015 school year and selected as Teacher of the Year at Bearfield Primary School during the 2022-2023 school year.
She served as the Math Multi-classroom Leader working with other classroom teachers in grade-level planning sessions that used student achievement data to drive instruction. Shereka also served as the grade level chair at Bearfield Primary School.
Currently, as an ECU Pirate Leadership Academy Principal Fellow, Shereka is a member of the Bearfield Primary School Improvement and Multi-tiered Support Systems teams. As a Principal Fellow, Shereka continues to work closely with teachers and staff to strengthen her leadership skills. She assists with bus duties, ensuring students’ safety and completes daily walk-through observations, providing teachers with feedback to improve their instruction that actively engages students.
As a Pirate Leadership Academy Principal Fellow, Shereka hopes to gain the experience that will help her reach her fullest potential in school administration, while building lasting relationships with cohort members.
Her favorite quotes include:
“It is to your advantage not to make the same mistakes twice”-Unknown
“Education is for improving the lives of others” -Marian Wright Edelman
Bertie County Schools
Jennifer Cherry earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science with a minor in Business Administration from Elizabeth City State University in 2005, and a Master of Science degree in Computer Networking with a minor in Health Services from Strayer University in 2010.
Jennifer has been recognized as a leader and has received several awards. She was selected as Bertie High School Teacher of the Year for the 2019-2020 school year. She was also voted Bertie County’s Career Technical Education (CTE) Teacher of the Year for the 2020-2021 school year. Jennifer’s leadership roles include: CTE Chairperson, School Improvement Team Chairperson, Assistant to the CTE Director, and Chairperson of the Sunshine Hospitality Club.
Jennifer has taught grades 9th through 12th in CTE Business. She also facilitated the Summer Bridge and the CTE Blue Collar Experience Summer programs for her school district. Jennifer is serving as the Assistant Principal Intern at Bertie Middle School in Windsor, NC. In this role Jennifer focuses on 7th grade and Encore class discipline, classroom observations, and serves as the back-up testing coordinator.
As an East Carolina University Pirate Leadership Academy Principal Fellow, Jennifer hopes to gain insightful strategies that will further strengthen her leadership skills to become an effective and relatable administrator. She will continue to build long lasting relationships with fellow cohort members and professors that will successfully impact her interactions with students, staff, families, and community members.
Beaufort County Schools
Summer Dail graduated from East Carolina University in 2002 with an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education. In 2007 She earned her Master of Library Science degree from East Carolina University. She is projected to gain a Master of School Administration degree from East Carolina University in the spring of 2024.
Summer began her career in education as a third-grade teacher in Beaufort County Schools in 2002. She taught third grade for six years. During this time, she completed her Master of Library Science degree. In 2008, she began her tenure at Chocowinity Primary School in Beaufort County, where she was the Media Coordinator for ten years. While at Chocowinity Primary School, she served as the school’s School Improvement Team chair, the backup testing coordinator, MTSS (Multi-Tiered Systems of Support) secretary, PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Support) secretary, webmaster, school information officer, and technology facilitator. In 2021, she became the Media Coordinator at Chocowinity Middle School (CMS). Her roles at CMS included School Improvement Team representative, backup testing coordinator, and webmaster. As a Media Coordinator she coached many Battle of the Books Teams.
Currently, Summer serves as the Director of Instructional Technology for Beaufort County Schools. In this role she gets joy from facilitating technology integration in all classroom instruction throughout the district. This fulfills her passion of helping educators and students have standards-based lessons that foster meaningful, engaging learning opportunities.
As a Principal Fellow in the Pirate Leadership Academy Summer is working to develop additional leadership skills that will allow her to further her career in education and help her in her current role. She hopes to gain a better understanding of all aspects of leadership within a school and use those skills to serve the staff and students in Beaufort County Schools.
“If serving is beneath you, then leadership is beyond you.” –Rory Vaden
Pitt County Schools
Trevor A. B. Darden earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and History Education from East Carolina University in 2017 and a Master of Divinity degree with a concentration in Church Administration from Regent University in 2022. He began his educational career with Pitt County Schools as a Social Studies teacher at the D. H. Conley High School. While there, he served as a Key Beginning Teacher and Yearbook Coordinator. Trevor served as a leader or co-advisor on various teams including the BETA Club, the Performance Learning Community team, and the Cultural Awareness Committee. He has also served his community as an Academically Gifted and Talented teacher.
As a Pirate Leadership Academy Principal Fellow, Trevor is looking forward to acquiring research-based knowledge on the administration and supervision of public schools. He joined this program to become a better servant-leader to his students, teachers and staff, and his school community.
One fascinating fact about Trevor is that he is an only child in a family that is extremely competitive in football and basketball. However, he is the only person in his family not gifted at sports. Trevor enjoys listening to 90s R&B music and watching movies in his spare time. Trevor is also a licensed and ordained minister who has served as an executive and youth pastor. Trevor is a proud member of the “Iconic” Iota Nu Nu chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
His favorite quote is a scripture from Romans 4:18, “Even when there was no reason to hope…Abraham kept hoping, believing what he was told.”
Gates County Schools
Carledia Dozier earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Social Work from Elizabeth City State University in 2000. She completed her teaching certification with a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education K-12 with an emphasis in Learning Disabilities in 2005. In 2007, she obtained a Master’s Degree in Education from Cambridge College.
When employed by Perquimans County, she was awarded a Leadership Award for her years of serving in various leadership roles. Her previous supervisor from Perquimans County describes her as having “impeccable leadership skills.”
Throughout her career as an Exceptional Children’s Teacher, she served in many roles such as Chairperson of the Exceptional Children’s team in Pasquotank and Perquimans County, a member of the School Improvement Team, member of the PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Support) committee, a member of the MTSS (Multi-Tiered Systems of Support) committee, and a contributing member to the LEA Self- Assessment team, just to name a few. Ms. Dozier taught elementary, middle, and high school, served as a mentor for beginning teachers and a coach for student teachers from Elizabeth City State University. Ms. Dozier has also served as the testing Coordinator for PW Moore Elementary School.
Currently, Ms. Dozier serves as the Exceptional Children’s Coordinator for Gates County Public Schools. Additional duties include coordinating the district’s preschool program and working with the Director of Exceptional Children in planning and providing in-service training and professional development for staff.
Ms. Dozier hopes her enrollment in the Pirate Leadership Academy will sharpen her leadership development and enhance her understanding of curriculum and instruction. As an educator, Ms. Dozier grew weary of hearing the complaints about the dysfunctions of the educational system. She decided to stop talking about change and enroll in the MSA program to become the change. One of her favorite quotes includes, “Change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” —Roy T. Bennett
Pitt County Schools
Courtney Dubis earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from East Carolina University in 2006, a Master of Arts in Elementary Education from East Carolina University and the Academically and Intellectually Gifted licensure for grades Kindergarten – Twelfth in 2007. In 2011-2012, she was named the Teacher of the Year at Falkland Elementary and became a National Board-Certified Teacher in Early Childhood: Generalist in 2011 with a renewal in 2021.
Courtney has been an elementary classroom teacher, lead mentor, grade level chair, and ECU clinical teacher. In 2012, she shifted to the role of Instructional Coach at Belvoir Elementary where she became a NCDPI Master Literacy Trainer and assisted in developing and implementing Pitt County’s first Dual Language Immersion (DL/I) Program, Dos Mundos. In 2020, she transitioned to the role of Global Coordinator and Instructional Coach at Pactolus K-8 Global School where she assisted in opening the district’s second Dual Language Immersion program. She serves on the Pitt County Schools District ELA advisory board, the NCDPI DL/I in NC Committee, is co-testing coordinator and mentors National Board-Certified candidates, and new instructional coaches.
In her role as an instructional coach, Courtney supports traditional and DL/I teachers with curriculum and instruction. She facilitates a culture of collaboration focused on student success through Professional Learning Communities where she assists with pacing the curriculum, unpacking the standards, creating common formative assessments, planning lessons, analyzing data, and adjusting instruction. In addition, she supports various schools across the district with literacy instruction and professional development through her role as a Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) ambassador and a district mCLASS and Reading Horizons trainer.
As a member of the East Carolina University Pirate Leadership Academy, Courtney is looking forward to developing the knowledge and skills needed to become an effective leader. She values collaboration and is excited to build connections across eastern North Carolina. She strives to be a hands-on learner and believes that it is important for administrators to lead by example. “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” -Maya Angelou
Martin County Schools
Paige Hardison earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Affairs from Lafayette College in 2016 and a Master of Arts in Elementary Education from East Carolina University in 2018. She also earned the National Board Certification for Teachers in Middle Childhood Generalist in 2022. Throughout her career, Paige has been recognized for several awards. She was selected as both the Rodgers Elementary School Teacher of the Year and as the Martin County Schools Teacher of the Year for 2020-2021. In 2021, Paige collaborated with other Teachers of the Year in the Northeast to present at the NERESA (Northeast Regional Education Service Alliance) conference that Fall on best grading practices and standards-based grading.
Paige has taught first, second and fourth grades. Most recently, she taught fourth grade math and science at Rodgers Elementary School. She also served as a member and vice chair on the School Improvement Team and as lead teacher for the school. As lead teacher, Paige helped support teachers, complete peer observations, provide training, and organized family nights for Rodgers Elementary. Paige has also taught summer reading remediation camps for the district and tutored students in reading at Sylvan Learning Center. Currently, Paige is serving as a principal intern at Jamesville Elementary School. In this role, she leads PLCs (Professional Learning Communities), works with teachers on unpacking standards, interventions, curriculum development and best practices, and supports the principal with daily tasks.
As an ECU (East Carolina University) Pirate Leadership Academy Principal Fellow, Paige hopes to learn how to become an effective principal to build teacher capacity to better serve all children in Martin County. She also hopes to make lasting connections with her cohort that will benefit all the Eastern North Carolina communities they serve.
Pitt County Schools
Megan Harrell earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education with a Special Studies in Global Issues concentration from Appalachian State University in 2011. In 2020, she added the area of Academically Gifted Education to her State Licensure.
Megan was recognized with various awards. In 2015, she was nominated for Liberty Drive Elementary School Teacher of the Year and was a recipient of the Thomasville City Schools “Bulldog” Award. In 2017, Megan was awarded Randolph County Schools Teacher of the Month while working at Tabernacle Elementary School. In 2019, while working at Southwest Elementary School, she was awarded Lexington City Schools Technology Teacher of the Quarter and in May 2019, Megan was named Southwest Elementary School Teacher of the Year.
Megan has served her school communities in numerous roles like Student Council and District Spelling Bee chair. She has been a leader of her grade level, a school level mentor for the Beginning Teacher Program, a member of her school improvement Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports teams. Megan has been active in many district initiatives including Superintendent Teacher Advisory Board Member for Lexington City Schools in 2018 and Superintendent Advisory Committee for Pitt County Schools in 2021. Megan taught grades two through five during her teaching career and served as the Academically and Gifted Lead Teacher in Lexington City Schools and Lee County Schools. Prior to her Principal Fellows selection Megan was a second-grade teacher at Grifton School with Pitt County Schools.
Currently, Megan is serving as Assistant Principal at Farmville Middle School. She works daily with teachers, students, and families to help build relationships and partnerships within the school community.
As an ECU PLA Principal Fellows, Megan will continue to develop leadership skills that empower her to build a community of staff, students, families, and stakeholders who believe in working together to promote student success and inspire greatness. Megan’s favorite quote and mantra comes from Rita Pierson: “Every Child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be.”
Lenoir County Public Schools
Nichole Hathaway earned her Bachelor of Arts in Exercise and Sport Science at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2012. She began teaching in 2014 and became certified in Elementary Education and Middle Grades Math. She earned Teacher of the Year at Contentnea-Savannah K-8 School for the 2019-2020 school year. In addition, she won a Bright Ideas grant in 2019 and 2021 and helped secure various other grants during her tenure as a teacher at Contentnea-Savannah K-8 School.
At Contentnea-Savannah, Nichole began her career as a volleyball coach. She coached volleyball for eight years and softball for seven years, alongside teaching math and science. She served as Athletic Director and Assistant Athletic Director until the 2022-2023 school year. She also served as the 7th Grade Level Chair, Math Department Lead, and led Awards Day during this time. She was currently serving as the 7th-grade math teacher before her selection for Pirate Leadership Academy. Nichole worked as an administrator for the Lenoir County Public Schools Summer STEM Camp for four years, Elementary Summer Enrichment for one year, and LCPS Career Accelerator Camps for one year.
Nichole currently serves as the assistant principal at Contentnea-Savannah, serving students in grades K-8. She assists teachers with classroom management, lesson planning, observations, and curriculum. She also helps lead the school’s Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and plans events for positive student rewards. She works to build relationships with teachers and students to help them be the best they can be.
As an ECU Pirate Leadership Academy fellow, Nichole hopes to gain leadership skills that will assist her in being a servant leader in any school she serves. She plans to glean wisdom from her professors and cohort members as they engage in the work of building educational leadership capacity in the PLA fellows. Nichole knows the effect of being a strong leader in a school setting, and she strives to be a servant leader as she completes this program. As Roy T. Bennett says: “Be the reason someone smiles. Be the reason someone feels loved and believes in the goodness in people.”
Pamlico County Schools
Zanquavia Minor earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting at Fayetteville State University in 2011 and her Master of Science in Math Education at East Carolina University in 2021. For six years, Zanquavia taught Secondary mathematics at Pamlico County High School in Bayboro, NC. She has also taught at Craven Community College over the past two years as an Adjunct Mathematics Instructor.
Over the past six years, Zanquavia has served in various mentoring and leadership roles for her school and district. She has served as chair of the mathematics department, a mentor for beginning teachers, and a member of the School Improvement Team. Zanquavia also serves as her school’s Multi-tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) Facilitator.
In her current role at Pamlico County High School, Zanquavia serves as the Learning Acceleration Coordinator. She assists with student achievement, curriculum alignment, testing coordination, discipline, and intervention implementation. Zanquavia is also responsible for monitoring and facilitating the tutoring program at PCHS to ensure the program and resources are used by tutors with fidelity.
Within her community, Zanquavia is an active member of her church, serving in the youth ministry as a coordinator and the teen ministry as a youth leader.
As a Pirate Leadership Academy fellow, Zanquavia looks forward to growing personally and professionally as a leader. She hopes to gain knowledge and effective leadership skills to become a servant leader for others. “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV
Pamlico County Schools
Stephanie Nowell earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Mathematics from Elizabeth City State University in 2009 and a Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Grand Canyon University in 2018. Throughout her career, she has received several awards including Fred A. Anderson Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year 2017-2018, The Golden Apple Award, Staff Member of the Month, and a two-time recipient of the Teacher Legislated Performance Bonus for third-grade growth.
Stephanie has served as the grade level chair for the third and fourth-grade teams, Co-Chair of Fred A. Anderson’s School Improvement Team, a member of Fred A. Anderson’s mathematics committee, the District Literacy and Technology Committee, and the Student Support and Services Team. In her most recent role, she serves on Pamlico County Middle School’s Student Services Management Team and the School Improvement Team. She is also the Co-Chair of the Community and Family Engagement Committee. Stephanie has taught grades second through fourth, all subjects, and led several sessions for summer enrichment and remediation.
Currently, Stephanie serves as the Assistant Principal at Pamlico County Middle School in Pamlico County. In this role, she serves students in grades sixth through eighth and manages the majority of the disciple concerns. Her additional roles include Site Test Coordinator and 504 Coordinator for Pamlico County Middle School. Prior to her selection into the ECU PLA and being appointed assistant principal, she served as the Learning Acceleration Coordinator for Pamlico County High School.
As an ECU Pirate Leadership Academy Fellow, Stephanie would like to gain a more profound sense of what it takes to be a well-rounded leader. She desires to be the best version of herself for the staff, students, and community members she serves by building positive relationships with all stakeholders and immersing herself in the school’s culture.
One of my favorite quotes is: “The most valuable resource that all educators have is each other. Without collaboration, our growth is limited to our own perspectives.” -Robert John Meehan
Tyrrell County Schools
Carolynn O’Kelley earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Voice Performance from the State University of New York at Fredonia in 2006 and a Graduate Certificate of Advanced Studies in Music Education from The College of Saint Rose in 2010. Carolynn was named Teacher of the Year in 2014-2015 for John A. Holmes High School in Chowan County.
Carolynn has held several roles in her school and district. She has served as a Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) district team member, Columbia High School and Columbia Middle School MTSS Leader, Columbia High School Beginning Teacher Building Level Support Coach, Beginning Teacher Mentor, Columbia Middle School Improvement Team Leader, NC STAR Process Manager, CARES Curriculum Council Team member, District Curriculum Council member. In addition, Carolynn has led various professional learning communities (PLCs) and facilitated professional development sessions for teachers at both Columbia Middle and Columbia High Schools.
Before being selected for the Pirate Leadership Academy, Carolynn taught Band, Choir, and Theatre Arts to students in grades 6-12 in Tyrrell County. Students performed in several concerts, parades, and theatrical performances such as: Riverfest, Rivertown Christmas, Hospice Tree Lighting, Check Please, and The Great Gatsby, as well as several performances written and directed by students. Carolynn has also served as a class advisor and sponsored the Columbia High School Drama Club.
Currently, Carolynn is the Testing Coordinator for grades 6-12. Additionally, she is the Dean of Students for Tyrrell County Schools with a focus on Columbia Middle School. In this capacity, Carolynn assists in implementing curriculum changes based on data and best practices, creates a positive school culture for staff and students, and facilitates meaningful PLCs.
As a principal fellow in the ECU Pirate Leadership Academy, Carolynn hopes to obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to grow professionally as an administrative leader who serves to impact high achievement and development for all students, all parents/guardians, all staff/faculty, and the overall community. Carolynn genuinely believes, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”- Dr. Maya Angelou
Washington County Schools
Chelsea Perry earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Studio Art with a concentration in ceramics from East Carolina University in 2017. Throughout her career she has received numerous awards including Teacher of the Year for Creswell Elementary School and Washington County Schools District Teacher of the Year for the 2021-2022 school year.
Chelsea was the recipient of a Simple Gifts Grant in 2022 that supported her presentation to the North Carolina Art Education Association’s Annual Conference. She also presented at the 2022 Northeast Regional Education Service Alliance Conference. Along with presenting at the regional and state level, Chelsea was also the keynote speaker at Washington County Schools Social Emotional Learning Annual Education Camp, titled WCS WINS: Where Intentional Nurtures Starts.
Currently, Chelsea is serving as the Art Teacher at Creswell Elementary, teaching grades kindergarten through fifth. She is also a member of the School Improvement, Multi-Tiered System of Support, District Teacher Advisory and the WCS Arts teams. Chelsea serves as her school’s Testing Coordinator, webmaster, and yearbook creator. In these leadership roles Chelsea displays creativity, integrity and a willingness to collaborate with others to positively impact student learning and community involvement.
As an East Carolina University Pirate Leadership Academy Fellow, Chelsea is excited to continue her passion for learning while gaining crucial leadership skills. She desires a deeper understanding of how important school, family, and community partnerships are, while also learning how to be an effective strategic leader. Chelsea is hoping to strengthen her delegation, communication, and organization skills throughout her time in this academy.
Chelsea does her best to always find the light in every situation, staying positive and having a heart of gratitude. Her supportive husband, Collin, and two children, Nathan (3) and Avery (1) are the ultimate reason she remains motivated, dedicated and full of vitality.
Her favorite quotes are:
“You’ll be amazed at what you attract once you start believing what you deserve.”- Unknown
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” – Norman Vincent Peale
Jones County Schools
Peyton Jenkins earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from Elon University in 2010 and completed his teaching certification through DPI’s Regional Assistance Licensing Center in August 2016.
In 2021 he was awarded Teacher of the Year for Jones Senior High School and was subsequently selected as Teacher of the Year for Jones County Schools for the 2021-2022 school year. He served on Jones Middle School’s School Improvement Team from 2013-2018 and then grade level chair from 2016-2018. As a Jones Senior High School member, he served as the grade level chair from 2019-2022 and was appointed to the School Improvement Team for the 2021-2022 school year.
Peyton served as the 7th-grade science and social studies teacher for Jones County Schools from 2013-2022. He also had the privilege of serving as the middle grades’ volleyball coach for three years from 2019-2021. Currently, Peyton Jenkins is serving Jones County Schools in a new capacity as the Assistant Principal Intern for Trenton Elementary School.
Peyton Jenkins is excited to join the ECU PLA to broaden his understanding and perspective of how an effective school is run. He hopes to use this experience to strengthen his ability to build strong relationships with students, families, teachers, and staff to create a cohesive learning environment.
Peyton continues to be active in his community theatre in New Bern and loves to travel. His favorite quote comes from Mark Twain, who said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…” He believes his experiences abroad help him interact positively with those different from himself. Peyton considers that everyone comes from different experiences and should be met with respect.
Pitt County Schools
Aaron Rountree earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary Math Education from East Carolina University in 2015.
Aaron has served as a math teacher at both JH Rose High School and ECU (East Carolina University) Innovation Early College High School in Pitt County Schools. He has taught Math 1, Math 2, Math 3, Math 4, Precalculus, and ACT Prep. In his first years at JH Rose High School, he was nominated as a Key BT (Beginning Teacher) where he had the opportunity to participate in training courses on Classroom Management, Conversational Skills, and School Leadership. In addition to the trainings, Aaron attended BT meetings within his school to mentor new teachers. He also took the opportunity to host a Clinical Teacher from ECU during his time at JH Rose, who was subsequently hired on the completion of her internship.
Aaron currently serves as an Assistant Principal at DH Conley High School. In his short tenure there, he has had the chance to positively impact instruction through classroom walkthroughs and observations. In addition, he has made positive changes in school transportation, resulting in increased instructional time for students who rely on the bus to get to school.
As a member of the ECU Pirate Leadership Academy, Aaron looks forward to developing the skills needed to be an excellent school administrator. While doing so, he intends to form collaborative relationships with members of his cohort as they work closely through their graduate work and eventually in school administration.
Lenoir County Public Schools
Candace Tilghman-Rouse earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Family and Community Services with a concentration in Elementary Education from East Carolina University in 2003. In 2006 she completed her licensure requirements at East Carolina University and became licensed in Elementary Education.
In 2003, she began her teaching career at Bynum Elementary School in Kinston, North Carolina, where she taught first grade. Bynum Elementary closed in June 2008, and selected staff members were transferred to the newly constructed Northeast Elementary School in Kinston, North Carolina. Candace taught first and third grade. Candace also taught after-school tutorial programs while at Bynum Elementary School and at Northeast Elementary School.
During her time at Bynum Elementary School and Northeast Elementary School, Candace served as Grade Level Chairperson, School Improvement Team Member, New Teacher Mentor, and an East Carolina University Clinical Teacher.
During her time at Bynum Elementary School in Kinston, NC, Candace was named 2005-2006 Bynum Elementary School Teacher of the Year, a 2008 Kinston Free Press Newspaper in Education (NIE) Teacher of the Year, a 2022-2023 Northeast Elementary Teacher of the Year, and a 2022-2023 Lenoir County Public Schools Teacher of the Year Top 3 Finalist.
Candace is currently an Assistant Principal at Rochelle Middle School in Kinston, North Carolina. Her role includes supporting the principal in the overall administration of the school and providing support and supervision for teachers and students. She also supervises school athletic events.
Candace feels grateful and truly blessed to be a member of the East Carolina Pirate Leadership Academy. As a result of the Pirate Leadership Academy, she hopes to gain valuable leadership skills that will allow her to become a strong and equitable school leader.
An interesting fact about Candace is that she enjoys gardening and volunteers as a team mom for her son’s recreational baseball team. One of her favorite quotes is, “I can do all things through he who strengthens me.” I am strong because of HIM, which enables me to be strong enough to serve my students and staff.
Beaufort County Schools
Jennifer Tuten earned her degree in Occupational Therapy (OT) from East Carolina University in 1999 and spent most of her career working in public schools, serving in several leadership positions. She has served as Lead OT, Related Service Representative for the county, and Autism Support Contact for the district.
Jennifer has also served on many school and district teams including the Exceptional Children’s (EC) Directors Leadership team, Autism team, Transdisciplinary Play-Based Assessment (TPBA) team, Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) team, and Assistive Technology team. She also supervised several OT assistants and OT students over the years, assisted with Special Olympics, and regularly advocated for students with disabilities.
Currently, Jennifer is serving as the Exceptional Children’s Program Specialist in Beaufort County Schools. In this role, she creates and refines professional development for staff, audits and assists EC staff with paperwork, forms, and regulations, and provides additional support for new EC programs. She understands the characteristics and unique needs of students with disabilities and uses research-based interventions to support their development. She has a strong knowledge of programming options and the laws and procedures governing exceptional children’s programming.
As an East Carolina University Pirate Leadership Academy Fellow, Jennifer is looking forward to gaining the knowledge of becoming an effective school leader and making a positive impact within the community she serves. She wants to strive to ensure that all students, including those with disabilities, are provided equal opportunities to develop intellectually, physically, emotionally, and vocationally through high-quality education.
One of her favorite quotes is “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference. You just have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” -Jane Goodall
Beaufort County Schools
Erin Tyson earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Barton College in 2005. She has worked for Beaufort County Schools for 17 years where she has taught fourth and fifth grade with a focus on English Language Arts (ELA). Her current role is the English Language Arts Instructional Coach at John Small School. Erin has received the Teacher of the Year award at John Small School, has presented at numerous conferences across the state, is a trainer for Reading Horizons, and recently became a Rethink Badged Facilitator for Blended Learning.
Erin has served in a variety of leadership roles within her school and throughout the Beaufort County School district. She has been influential with helping to develop district wide plans for English Language Arts as well as train other teachers within her school and district. Erin has served as a School Improvement Team member for numerous years and is now the chair for this committee. Although ELA is her passion, Erin has found herself working closely with technology leaders in her district. Erin is certified in Google Workspace, Apple Teacher, and Nearpod which has led to her leading district, state and regional-wide professional development sessions for educators.
As an East Carolina University Pirate Leadership Academy Fellow, Erin is looking forward to growing in her leadership role at her school and eventually at the district level. She is excited for this amazing opportunity to continue to make connections and collaborate with other educators across the Northeast region. She knows that this program will help her with becoming a successful leader where she can work alongside students, staff, parents, and community members.
Her favorite quote is, “Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come” by N.R. Walker. This quote is one that she told her former students to help motivate them as they push towards their own personal goals and success.
Maria Uribe Henriquez
Duplin County Schools
Maria Uribe received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Foreign Languages from Universidad del Atlántico in Barranquilla, Colombia, her home country. Maria came to the United States with Participate Learning, a foreign teacher exchange program, in 2009. She started working at James Kenan High School as an ESL teacher. In 2013, Maria earned a Master of Arts degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). That same year, she started working as the ESL Lead Teacher for Duplin County Schools. In this position, she’s had the opportunity to provide professional development to all certified staff in the district. She has also provided coaching to classroom teachers and assisted ESL teachers with lesson planning and curriculum alignment.
Maria has participated in multiple English language development professional groups in the state of North Carolina. Most notably, she was a part of the creation of the EL Lead Teacher Collaborative under the supervision of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. She has also created professional development courses for the NCDPI Canvas platform.
Maria has been a presenter at several national language teaching conferences such as the TESOL Conference. As of April 2022, Maria has joined the Migrant Education Program in the role of program coordinator. Her current appointment as ESL/MEP/Family and Cultural Engagement Coordinator has expanded her responsibilities to include cultural and parent engagement.
As a PLA fellow, Maria seeks to improve her overall leadership skills such as relationship-building, conflict management, adaptability and innovation. She also desires to gain a deeper understanding of what it takes to be a truly effective leader in order to continue serving the Duplin County Schools community.
Beaufort County Schools
Douglas Wade earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education and a minor degree in Human Studies at East Carolina University in 2008. In addition to the Physical Education/Health teaching license, he also earned his middle grades math and science teaching licenses. Douglas began his teaching career in Pitt County at Farmville Middle School. There he taught 6th grade math for one year, then Physical Education and Health for three years. During those years in Farmville, Douglas coached the middle school soccer and football teams. He served as the school’s Intramurals Coordinator and Assistant Athletic Director.
After four years in education, Douglas chose to step away and explore other career passions that included truck driving, insurance, automotive sales, and automotive repair. While his personality and ability to connect with the public yielded success, Douglas was not truly fulfilled. Douglas returned to public education in 2019, teaching Physical Education and Health at S.W. Snowden Elementary in Beaufort County Schools.
In August of 2020, Douglas transferred to Eastern Elementary School (EES). There he taught K-1 Physical Education virtually and finally welcomed students back in early 2021. While fundraising for the American Heart Association, Douglas led EES as the Kids Heart Challenge Coordinator, and earned the highest amount of donations for Beaufort County and was recognized for this feat by his school Superintendent.
As a result of his previous successes and motivation from his colleagues, Douglas is now pursuing a Masters in School Administration from East Carolina University. He was selected to participate in the Pirate Leadership Academy and now serves as the Dean of Students at Southside High School in Chocowinity.
In this role, Douglas has had the opportunity to learn many facets of School Administration. Douglas endeavors to serve all students equally, promoting equity and vitality, and making strong personal connections throughout the community. His motto hails from his service in the college band fraternity, KKPsi, “Strive for the Highest.” His goal is to inspire the students he serves to continue to look to the future…never giving up on their dreams.
Jones County Schools
Chris Wagner is in his twenty-third year in the education profession. He received his first undergraduate degree in business from Campbell University in 1991, and after working in the insurance industry for ten years, he became a lateral entry teacher in 2001. He later received his teacher certification in Math from East Carolina University in 2003.
Over the last 23 years, Chris has been a classroom teacher in all grades 7-12, a math department chair, and a student mentor. He has also implemented a student lead tutoring program and served on many school committees such as SIT and Attendance Fidelity Team. He was on a Principal search team at his current school, Jones Senior High School. He has also coached middle and high school sports for 18 years and been an Athletic Director for 4 of these years.
Chris currently serves as an administrative intern at Jones Senior High School in Trenton, N.C. JSHS is in a K-12 building, but his concentration is with grades 6-12, where he works with all students and staff in an administrative role. He hopes the knowledge he gains through this program will help him be an effective leader in his school district in whatever capacity they feel will best suit the students and community he serves.
He is an extremely devoted family man who has been blessed with a loving wife, Jennifer, of 22 years (will be 23 years in May) and two great children, Sophia and Dylan.
Brunswick County Schools
John Walls graduated from UNC-Wilmington, earning his BA degree in English with concentrations in Professional/Creative Writing and Literature/Language.
John began his teaching career at Southport Christian School in Southport, NC teaching 4th-8th grade English and history, as well as PE. He then taught 6th grade ELA at South Brunswick Middle School. He transferred to South Brunswick High School, teaching freshman English. John served for 17 years teaching all grade levels, AP literature, and yearbook. He obtained his NBPTS certification in 2008. In 2021, John left the classroom to become SBHS’s first Dean of Students, a position he still holds.
John has served in multiple educational and athletic leadership positions at SBHS. He has coached various sports over 15 years and served as the Assistant AD for eight years. He is a Certified Athletic Administrator and a Certified Interscholastic Coach.
John founded the international studies program at SBHS, establishing an educational partnership with Ingrid Jespersen Gymnasium in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was awarded the Time Warner Cable National Teacher Award for “21st Century Classroom Technology and Biotechnology” for his work with IJG. He has served on the Brunswick County Schools TAC, SBHS’s PAC, has been the SIT chair, PBIS coordinator, graduation coordinator, National Honor Society co-advisor, and gamers club advisor.
John was named the ’19-‘20 SBHS Teacher of the Year. He was also awarded the VFW’s National Citizenship Education Teacher Post Recognition Award.
As a member of the ECU Pirate Leadership Academy, he hopes to continue his growth in servant leadership to better serve his school, its students, faculty/staff, parents, and community. He aspires to utilize the valuable instruction, guidance, motivation, and inspiration provided by his amazing professors in the PLA and the strong relationships he has built with his outstanding classmates to effect positive change as a site-based administrator. John is happily married to Elizabeth, his wife of 20 years. They have four children and two grandchildren. He is an avid Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Braves fan. Though he is a Seahawk Alumni, his favorite new phrase is “Go Pirates!” “All that is not given is lost.” – Hasari Pal
Gates County Schools
Krystle Williams earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from East Carolina University in 2009 and a Master’s of Reading Education in 2011. She also earned National Board Certification for Teachers (NBCT) in Early Childhood in 2020.
Krystle has been recognized for a variety of awards. She was selected as the Central Middle School Teacher of the Year for the 2014-2015, Buckland Elementary School Teacher of the Year for 2018-2019, the North Carolina Governor’s Teacher Network in 2014-2015, and was recognized as an Excellent Teacher by WAVY TV 10 in 2021. Krystle has been the recipient of multiple grants that include the Bright Ideas Grant from Roanoke Electric Cooperative, and numerous Donors Choose grants. She also collaborated to receive the GO Grant to build a new outdoor classroom at Buckland Elementary School.
Krystle has served her school community in various capacities throughout her career, including volleyball coach, middle school BETA Club Sponsor, teacher mentor, and various other roles. She continues to fill the roles of Gates County District Beginning Teacher Support Coach, Buckland Elementary School Instructional Support Coach, and Buckland PTA President.
As an ECU Pirate Leadership Academy Principal Fellow, Krystle is looking forward to gaining new knowledge and vast experiences of what it is like to be a school administrator. She is learning the importance of building strong relationships as she collaborates to improve learning for the students at the school she serves. Krystle is excited about the possibilities that this experience will have on her career, and is looking forward to growing in her role to serve the students of Gates County Schools.
Some of Krystle’s favorite quotes are the following:
“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” -Albert Einstein
“Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.”
Gates County Schools
Leslie Wright earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education with a minor in Health from Bluefield College, now known as Bluefield University, Bluefield, Virginia. Currently, she is seeking her Master of School Administration degree from East Carolina University and plans to graduate in the spring of 2024.
Leslie has served in many different educational roles from teacher assistant, bus driver, teacher, and coach, and has developed insight from each role she has served. This insight gives her a better understanding of each position and their role in the educational field. Most recently Leslie served as a School Improvement Team member, Academic Committee chair, Festival Committee, and Department chair.
Leslie has taught elementary, middle, and high school physical education and health; in addition to high school advanced physical education and aerobics. She has been involved with coaching the younger generation in softball, basketball, volleyball, and track and field in middle school, high school, and collegiate. Leslie has also combined her love for sports and her love for Christ by serving as a sponsor for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. In addition to teaching at the high school, she started the DREAM (Daring to Role Model Excellence as Athletic Mentors) Team in collaboration with the NCHSAA.
Currently, Leslie serves as Gates County Schools District Physical Education Instructional Coach and T. S. Cooper Elementary School Dean of Students. In the role of Support Coach, she works with physical education teachers across the district to provide lesson plan ideas and effective teaching practices, pacing guides, observations of physical education teachers, and resources for professional development and classroom. As Dean of Students, she handles classroom and bus discipline, fifth-grade patrols, and the educator’s handbook,
As a Pirate Leadership Fellow, Leslie hopes to gain the leadership knowledge to lead with a servant heart and effectively provide guidance to better all those around her. One of your favorite quotes is “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
Martin Luther King Jr.”