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Kenan Fellows: Making real world connections for our students

Last summer, middle school science teacher Jamie Mosley rode in a bucket truck, hung a transformer and set a power pole. Sound like an atypical experience for a K-12 educator? Not so for teachers who are chosen to become Kenan Fellows.

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The Kenan Fellows Program, established in 2000, is a K-12 STEM initiative of the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology & Science at NC State University. Kenan Fellows partner with mentors in STEM fields to learn how science and math can be made relevant to students. Mentors come from academic and business fields including scientific research, engineering, agriculture, biotechnology, health care, aviation, communications, technology, and more.

The program is open to K-12 public and charter school teachers in North Carolina. Fellows are selected following a competitive application and interview process. A new cohort is announced each spring. Educators chosen as Kenan Fellows demonstrate proven leadership or leadership potential. Today, an elite network of more than 300 Kenan Fellows work to improve STEM education in North Carolina and beyond.

A core goal of the program is to develop teacher leaders who can drive innovation in their schools and districts. 

The five-week internship is the centerpiece of the yearlong program. The internship is supported by 80 hours of professional development that is divided into three professional advancement institutes that focus on leadership skills, community engagement, technology integration, and public policy. Opportunities to meet with statewide leaders from industry, government, education, and business help Fellows gain experience in becoming effective advocates for education. A core goal of the program is to develop teacher leaders who can drive innovation in their schools and districts.

Ms. Mosley is one of 50 Kenan Fellows in the 2014-15 cohort. She dedicated five weeks of her summer to shadowing and learning from electric utility experts at the Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Cooperative (Surry-Yadkin EMC). Seeing the tremendous benefits of having a K-12 educator understand its industry, Surry-Yadkin EMC gave Ms. Mosley unprecedented access to all aspects of its operation, from the business office to a tour of the Catawba Nuclear Plant.

“Cooperatives must inform and educate their memberships in order to be successful as autonomous organizations. Surry-Yadkin EMC feels that establishing a strong partnership with our local schools is the best means of ensuring that our membership will remain engaged well into the future,” said Adam Martin, marketing & economic development coordinator with Surry-Yadkin Electric and Ms. Mosley’s mentor. “This internship allowed us the chance to share various components of the electric industry with our community, which will help us address industry challenges and highlight workforce development opportunities for our youth.”

The Kenan Fellows Program forges partnerships between K-12 schools, industry, research, and higher education to introduce students to the wonders of STEM.

The Kenan Fellows Program forges partnerships between K-12 schools, industry, research, and higher education to introduce students to the wonders of STEM. The fellowships are made possible through the generous support of corporate, education, and foundation partnerships, as well as federal grants from agencies such as the National Science Foundation.

Ms. Mosley’s fellowship was supported through a partnership with Surry-Yadkin EMC and North Carolina’s electric cooperatives. She and the other Fellows in her cohort are currently implementing lessons in their classrooms based on their internship experiences. Her lessons are designed to teach students the science involved in the generation, transmission, and distribution of energy.

“I can engage my students from the knowledge that I have obtained through this internship in so many ways,” she said. “I want to make a real-world connection for our kids.”

To learn more about the Kenan Fellows Program and the partnership with North Carolina’s electric cooperatives, visit kenanfellows.org.

Amneris Solano

Amneris Solano helps guide and implement strategic communications planning for the Kenan Fellows Program’s broad network of fellows, mentors, alumni, educators, and supporters. Solano is the 2009 recipient of the Fayetteville Observer’s Pat Reese Fellowship and the first place winner of the 2010 NC Press Association Award in education reporting.