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NC State College of Education Holds 2nd Annual Leadership Institute for Future Teachers (LIFT) for Rising High School Seniors of Color and Bilingual Students


The NC State College of Education held its second annual Leadership Institute for Future Teachers (LIFT) virtually, June 20-24. LIFT is a five-day, invitational program that works to inspire high school seniors — particularly students of color and bilingual students — to explore careers in education and enhance their leadership skills.

High school teachers and counselors nominated students who they believed had the potential to become extraordinary educators. Twenty-nine rising high school seniors from across North Carolina participated in LIFT — 55% were bilingual. The students engaged in leadership development activities, learned about the field of education from current teachers and administrators and built connections with former LIFT participants and current NC State College of Education students.

“Our time with you in LIFT is to help you develop your potential to see things in yourself you’ve never seen. To begin to strengthen a network, to enable you to go on to have the power in your life to do what you want to do and to do that as a leader for others,” NC State College of Education Dean Mary Ann Danowitz told the LIFT participants during welcome remarks. “During this time, we hope that you will begin to see new ways to develop your skills, to see yourself as a leader. The most important power you have is the power of your life and the power to change others.”

Participants spent the week

  • attending leadership development sessions led by Karen Anderson, Ed.S., NC State College of Education Wake Principal Leadership Program cohort director; 
  • learning from current educators such as Eugenia Floyd, the 2021 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year, and CeCe Sizoo-Roberson, Southwest Regional Teacher of the Year; and 
  • engaging with educational leaders such as MariaRosa Rangel, director of Family and Community Engagement for the Wake County Public School System; Leslie Locklear, FATE project coordinator for the School of Education at UNC Pembroke; Frances Herring, associate superintendent for Lenoir County Public Schools; and Terrance Ruth, a community and political advocate lecturer in NC State’s Department of Social Work.

Participants also had the opportunity to learn from NC State College of Education alumni who currently work in the education field and participated in a panel discussion. Panelists included Douglas McCullough ’19MSA, an assistant principal at Cary High School; Sarah Bowman ’19, a seventh grade science teacher at Innovation Academy; Thomas Carrington ’19MAT, a third grade teacher at Carter Community Charter School; and Armando Salazar ’18, an eighth grade science teacher at Holly Ridge Middle School.

“For me, the LIFT program was a way for me to learn more about how to achieve my goal of becoming a teacher and bond with peers who have the same goal. I have loved LIFT because I have found people who are just as passionate about education and the beauty of teaching as I am,” said a student from Walter M. Williams High School in Alamance County.

Two current College of Education students and two incoming freshmen who participated in LIFT last year served as counselors for the program. The participants also had the opportunity to learn about getting ready for college, the application process and about applying for financial aid. Erin Horne, Ph.D., assistant dean for assessment and professional education for the NC State College of Education, also discussed how teacher preparation programs work, especially at NC State. 

Support Future Educators

Help the College of Education continue to offer LIFT and develop other initiatives that help diversify the education workforce and build diverse, inclusive and supportive learning environments.

During the closing ceremony, students shared lessons learned from the week, what the week meant to them and how this experience will impact their future careers. 

The closing ceremony also included a contemporary dance selection to “Yellow” by Emmitt Fenn from a student at Spring Creek High School in Wayne County and a musical selection by a student from Rosman High School in Transylvania County, who played “I Surrender” by Hillsong on his saxophone.

“I would say my experience with LIFT was extraordinary. I got the tools I need to succeed in my teaching career in the future as well as made great friends with those who’ll be in my workforce later as well,” said a student from Parkwood High School in Union County.

Following the five-day summer program, the high school seniors will engage in nine months of activities, including an e-mentoring program through which the students will receive continuous virtual mentoring from teachers of color or bilingual teachers.

Financial sponsors for LIFT were the Belk Foundation, Burroughs Wellcome Fund, Mebane Foundation, the NC State University Foundation and the NC State College of Education.