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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

UNCP alumni join ‘Turnaround Schools’ program

Last spring the Sandhills Leadership Academy (SLA) was planned and funded through a federal “Race to the Top” grant for the purpose of developing leaders for “turnaround” low-performing schools.

Carol Higy

Carol Higy

Charles Jenkins

Charles Jenkins

Black Line

Sandhills Leadership Academy is sponsored by the Sandhills Regional Education Consortium and provides an opportunity for aspiring leaders from across all school districts in the region to be part of an innovative approach for the preparation of school leaders focusing on the turnaround of low-performing schools. It includes a summer intensive program and a full-time, year-long internship. The grant provides funding for executive interns in this program annually through 2015.

Dr. Leah Fiorentino, dean of the School of Education, Dr. Carol Higy, the school’s associate dean, and Dr. Charles Jenkins, a professor in the School Administration and Counseling graduate program, have been involved in a partnering role for UNC Pembroke. Eighteen hours of graduate credit at either UNCP or Fayetteville State University are an important piece of the partnership. In August, 14 of the Sandhills Leadership Academy executive interns chose to enroll in UNCP’s Master of School Administration degree program.

The following interns who have chosen to enroll in the program are also UNCP alumni:  Dianna Bellamy, Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and Master of Arts in Education (M.A.Ed.) in elementary education; Elizabeth Bridges, M.A.Ed. in reading education; Tara Bullard, Bachelor of Arts in English and M.A.Ed. in middle grades; Camille House, M.A.Ed. in reading education; Cindy Lewis, Master of Arts in Teaching in social studies; Penny McNeill Lind, M.A.Ed. in reading education; and Maresa Phillips, B.S. in elementary education.

Cindy Lewis, a UNCP alumna from Marietta in Robeson County, is one of the SLA interns learning hands-on how to be a “turnaround specialist.”  A veteran teacher, Lewis will be interning with Principal Larry Brooks Jr. at South Robeson High School for a year.  “Anywhere he goes, I go, and I’m in every meeting,” Lewis said. “This is real-life training. Brooks is a wonderful principal who made an impact here on the first day.”  Lewis said she is pleased with the new program and hopes to continue her education at the doctoral level in the future.

It’s a win-win program for all the partners, said Dr. Fiorentino, dean of UNCP’s School of Education. 

Dr. Higy and Dr. Jenkins said the program’s special features are an asset. “The on-the-job training at a low-performing school is unique,” Dr. Higy said. “They plan a second four-week internship at a second school outside the executive intern’s district.”

The program also conducts weekly seminars with speakers and discussion, and there is an intensive, three-week boot camp in the summer. 

Dr. Jenkins said UNCP’s participation demonstrates its commitment the desire and willingness of the university’s School of Education to partner with the schools and to reach out to the region.

“This is a case study of how a university can partner with the public schools and make a difference in the region it serves,” he said.

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