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Community and Engagement

My Student Experience: NC State College of Education Partners with North Carolina Central School of Education to Provide High Schoolers with Insight into Being an Educator Through Pack the Nest

This is part of a monthly “My Student Experience” series in which the NC State College of Education highlights the student experience through profiles, stories and videos.

How do you plan a lesson? What does it mean to be a culturally responsive educator? What is licensure and how do you get it?

These were just some of the questions that were answered during Pack the Nest, a two-day virtual event for North Carolina high school students, especially students from underrepresented communities, who want to become teachers. The event was put on through a partnership between the NC State College of Education and the North Carolina Central University School of Education. 

“It’s really impactful to do this with an HBCU,” said Christopher Faison, an NC State College of Education doctoral student who organized the event. “It’s a fun combination. We’re really different, but we complement each other really well.”

The event was split up into sessions, where participants had the opportunity to learn from and interact with faculty, administrators, alumni and students from both universities.

On the first day, NC State College of Education student Kay Sumpter ‘22 joined two NC Central University School of Education students and spoke to the group of high school students about why she chose education, with the hope of inspiring them to do the same. 

“I knew I wanted to do something that would impact young children’s lives,” Sumpter said. “I was a tutor at an after-school program and just helping those students have those a-ha moments they couldn’t have at school — that’s how I really discovered I loved working with children and teaching them. I want to educate students to give them something no one can take away from them.”

She also offered the students her email, so the high school students could reach her with any questions they had or advice they might need later on. Throughout the event, speakers made sure participants could still reach them even when Pack the Nest was over.

“Having these students and these professionals offer contact information, it’s really exciting,” said Faison. “I feel like there’s a lot of really good possibilities with just students who are pretty sure they want to go into teaching having access to people who are older and administrators who will eventually be hiring them eventually.”

The high school students who attended had a chance to interact with administrators during a panel led by North Carolina Central University School of the Education Supplemental Instruction Coordinator Kia Eason and featuring Tabari Wallace, special adviser to the state superintendent; James Hopkins, a Durham Public Schools principal and Karen Anderson, the NC State College of Education Wake Principal Leadership Program cohort director.

Throughout the sessions, NC State Carolina College of Education faculty and alumni helped lead sessions to provide participants with a comprehensive look at what it means to be an educator.

Sarah Cannon, assistant teaching professor and assistant director of professional education, explained the ins and outs of earning your teaching license, while Marlin Jones ‘20MED and Brandon Daniel ‘19MED teamed up with NC Central University School of Education alumni Turquoise Parker and Davron Rorie to talk about engaging learners. 

To introduce students to the ins and outs of classroom management, Iwinosa Idahor ‘09, ‘11MED, 21PHD and North Carolina Central School of Education Assistant Professor Megan Lyons explained how to create a positive classroom climate. 

Daniel Bullock ‘13PHD, Durham Public Schools executive director for equity affairs, and Yolanda Dunston, an associate professor at the North Carolina Central University School of Education, led a workshop on creating culturally responsive lesson plans, while Bria Wright ‘16, ‘19MED, a Wake County elementary school teacher, and Tracey Kumar, an assistant professor at the North Carolina Central University School of Education, engaged students in interactive activities to demonstrate how to evaluate students. 

“The alumni who helped us were really excited to have been asked,” said Faison. “It’s encouraging to see the network and the love for the NC State College of Education and people being willing to give back to something that’s given them so much.” 

Pack the Nest also featured an appearance by the hosts of the “Too Dope Teachers and Mic” podcast, who spoke to the students about their experiences as teachers of color and provided their perspectives on pursuing an education career. 

Faison hopes events like Pack the Nest can strengthen the pipeline of teachers from underrepresented communities, and he echoed a sentiment expressed by a number of the Pack the Nest speakers. 

 “I wish I would have had this when I was thinking about teaching,” Faison said. 

NC State University and North Carolina Central University received a grant from the University of North Carolina General Administration to bring Pack the Nest to high school students.