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What I learned: The importance of connections beyond the classroom

The Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership is a program to develop high-quality teacher leaders focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Members of the program share their reflections this week in the "What I Learned" series.

The first few years of my teaching career were spent teaching next door to a Kenan Fellow. Anytime I was in his room, I felt the excitement of his lesson plans, the engagement of his students, and the natural way he lead his students and colleagues. Whenever we would talk about something interesting he was going to try, he would cite Kenan Fellows as his jumping off point.

After encouraging me to apply many times, I was accepted for the 2015-2016 cohort. I could not wait for the program to start. I got to work at the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute with Dr. Thomas Witelski. At SAMSI, I worked on computer modeling and even got to sit in on a computational neuroscience workshop. The experience itself was amazing; the externship at SAMSI, the professional development with my cohort – all of the summer program was a once in a lifetime opportunity.  

For me, the most meaningful part of Kenan Fellows came after all of this.  

I have benefited the most as a teacher leader from the professional connections I made and all of the opportunities that the Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership continues to provide for me.

This program has pushed me to seek out similar experiences like working at SAS Curriculum Pathways as a teacher contributor, present at conferences such as Bridging the Gap and AAPT meetings, and continue to learn and grow as an educator by participating in content and pedagogical workshops.

The Kenan Fellows Program hosted a leadership symposium this past summer in Greenville, NC. They reached out to all of the Kenan Fellow alumni for presentations.

They do an amazing job making sure that our voices get heard and providing us with extra platforms to use our voices. It was great to be able to share my experiences as a teacher leader with other teachers from a different area of the state as well as learn new strategies and ideas to implement in my own classroom.  

As teachers, we spend so much of our time working with our plans and departments that sometimes we forget to reach out beyond our school. I have made connections with so many other teachers through Kenan Fellows and they all have inspired me to be innovative and lead our profession.

Before Kenan Fellows, I had the desire to grow as a teacher leader, but with their help and support I was able to forge a path for myself and really put those plans and ideas into action. In a time where it feels like education and educators may be on the back burner, Kenan Fellows provides the opportunity for North Carolina teachers to realize their potential and understand their true calling.

Alexandra Boyd

Alexandra Boyd is in her sixth year of teaching and her first year at Apex Friendship High School where she teaches all levels of physics.  Currently she is building the physics program at AFHS from the ground up and has participated in many fellowships including the Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership and the SAS Curriculum Pathways Summer Institute.  Alexandra was also named the 2017 PhysTEC National Physics Teacher of the Year.