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Governor Cooper announces five recipients of Governor’s Educator Discovery Award

The following is a press release from Governor Roy Cooper

Today, Governor Roy Cooper and the North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE) announced five teachers across the state were awarded the Governor’s EducatorDiscovery Award. The Governor’s Educator Discovery Award is a stipend of up to $1,000 awarded to PreK-12 traditional public and public charter school teachers to pursue a professional development experience of their choosing. 

“Our teachers work hard to nurture our students, and it’s important that we support their professional development,” Governor Cooper said. “This funding will help educators learn new skills to bring back to the classroom that will help students prepare for the jobs of the future.”

Teachers submit a proposal with details about their teaching experience, the professional development activity they wish to pursue, and how it would enhance their efforts to create work-based learning activities for their students. These applications then go through a rigorous review process and are narrowed down to our outstanding winners. 

This was the ninth cycle of teachers to receive the award since its inception in 2019. With a growing interest shown in the program each cycle, the program has been able to expand, bringing the total number of grants awarded to twenty-nine. The next cycle of the Governor’s Educator Discovery Award opens today, January 30th, 2023. Learn more HERE.

The latest teachers to receive grants will use their Governor’s Educator Discovery Award in the following ways:

Julia Little, a science teacher at Westover High School in Cumberland County, will be travelling to Iowa State University for the Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program in Summer 2023. The RET program is a National Science Foundation opportunity to provide teachers with research experiences and allow them to create ongoing relationships with career scientists. Through this program, teachers engage in 35 hours a week of research in a variety of STEM topics and leave the program with a thought-out lesson plan that translates the learning they did into viable activities for use in the classroom.

Debra Troxell, a social studies teacher at West Forsyth High School in Forsyth County, attended the National Council for Geographic Education Conference in Minneapolis in October. At the conference she was able to attend sessions sponsored by Esri on GIS technology, which is software used to create maps and display geographic data. This knowledge will allow Troxell to create interactive lessons using the same technology that professionals use for her AP Human Geography students, preparing them for a wide array of careers. 

Kerissa Armstead, a science and social studies teacher at Franklin County Early College High School in Franklin County, will be attending a modeling workshop in Chemistry presented by the American Modeling Teacher’s Association in Summer 2023. This workshop provides a new approach to teaching STEM that engages students by emphasizing collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and creativity. This training is closely aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards and will allow Armstead to make a significant change in the way students interact with Chemistry, by turning them into real scientists that construct, test, and analyze models to further their understanding of different scientific concepts.

Alicia Moss, a STEM teacher and robotics coach at J.M. Alexander Middle School in Mecklenburg County, attended the Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Summit in October. PLTW is a group that seeks to make classrooms more engaging and lessons more relevant to students, by providing teachers with the training, resources, and support they need to engage students in real-world learning. They offer a unique innovative approach to STEM education and the event will feature presentations on design, electronics, and programming. The valuable lessons Moss learns will be able to be implemented directly into her Design & Modeling course. 

Jessie Francese, a science and humanities teacher at Exploris Middle School in Wake County, was accepted as an Educator of Excellence for the Yellowstone Institute with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and will be going on an excursion to Yellowstone National Park in Summer 2023. On this excursion, teachers will get the opportunity to observe incredible wildlife, study the park’s unique geology, and learn from the knowledgeable staff at the world’s first national park. This experience will allow Francese to create new and exciting lessons for her Geology students, and directly connect them to careers in the field.

The Governor’s Educator Discovery Awards are funded by NCBCE member companies. As interest in the program has grown with each cycle, NCBCE hopes to raise additional funds to expand the program in future years. Parties interested in funding the initiative should contact Caroline Sullivan, Executive Director of NCBCE, at

The North Carolina Business Committee for Education (NCBCE) is a business-led, education non-profit (501-c3) that operates out of the Office of the Governor. Since 1983, NCBCE has provided a critical link between North Carolina business leaders and the state’s education decision-makers, helping to create connections between the education curriculum and the overall work readiness of people across the state. 


EdNC staff reporting relies on staff, interns, and columnists.