Biogen Foundation’s $100K Gift Champions Teacher Leadership in NC

RALEIGH, N.C., (June 3, 2016) – The Kenan Fellows Program for Leadership and Curriculum Development is pleased to announce it has received a $100,000 grant from the Biogen Foundation. With this grant, Biogen Foundation will be the Lead Champion of the program’s Professional Advancement Institutes that focus on project-based learning, digital learning and leadership development for the 2016-2017 cohort of 41 new Kenan Fellows. The funds will also be used for the creation of the Biogen Foundation Teacher Leader Cluster in Greene County.

“The Biogen Foundation works to serve students – especially those who are underserved and underrepresented in STEM fields – and to provide teacher professional development programming for those frontline mentors who students see every day,” said Chris Barr, executive director of the Biogen Foundation. “It is crucial that we invest in STEM education to ensure we have the future innovators and entrepreneurs needed to tackle the challenging issues of tomorrow.  Our students are our future and our teachers shape that future.”

The Teacher Leader Cluster will address the need to develop and empower high-quality STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) educators, who, in turn, make learning more authentic and relevant for students. Four Greene County mathematics teachers have been selected to participate in the cluster. The teachers will collaborate with each other and district leaders to develop instructional resources that better align classroom content with workforce skills in order to strengthen the school system’s STEM pipeline. The teachers will also be working on vertically aligning the district’s K-8 math curricula.

“One Kenan Fellow in a district is a catalyst for change, imagine what will be accomplished with a cluster of Fellows from the same district partnering together as a Leadership Team in STEM,” said Elaine Franklin, director of the Kenan Fellows Program. “We have the opportunity to see the impact of the Kenan Fellows Program grow exponentially because of the Biogen Foundation’s continued support of teachers and students. They are true champions of STEM education.”

The K-12 STEM educators selected for this initiative are:

  • Phil Cook, assistant principal at West Greene Elementary School, will partner with Carl Kirby of USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service for a project entitled “Growing an Appreciation for Conservation.” Cook has been teaching for six years and holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from SUNY Oneonta and a M.S. from UNC-Wilmington. “Becoming a Kenan Fellow will equip me with the tools needed to not only make the curriculum relevant to my own students, but all students who attend Greene County Schools,” he said.
  • Samantha Haislip, a seventh grade teacher at Greene County Middle School, will partner with Wim van Dam of Hyster Yale for a project entitled “Lifting’ Classroom Instruction.” Haislip, a two-year teacher, has a B.S. in Middle Grades Education in Mathematics and Social Studies from Appalachian State University. “I am excited to have the opportunity to intern with an industry, attend professional developments, present to my peers, dig deeper into STEM education, and so much more,” she said. “I am most excited about all that I will learn from the program and what I can bring back to my students and my school district.”
  • Keshia Speight, a third-grade teacher at West Greene Elementary School, will partner with Lisa Lassiter and Nancy Turner of Vidant Health for a project entitled “Advancing Healthcare Locally and Elsewhere.” Speight has been teaching for eight years and holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice from the University of Mount Olive. “I am excited to join a community of educators whose purpose is to inspire independent thinkers. Thinkers who will be innovators and will bring about positive change and take us to the next level in economic competitiveness and growth.”
  • Heather Waddell, a kindergarten teacher at Snow Hill Primary School, will partner with David Catt of Keihin for a project entitled “Turning the Key to Success in the Classroom.” Waddell has been teaching for eight years and has a B.S. in Elementary Education from East Carolina University. “I am confident this opportunity will help me gain a new perspective on education through collaboration with great teachers and relationships gained through the internship experience.”

The mission of the Biogen Foundation is to provide access to science education and essential human services to children and their families in the communities in which Biogen operates. The Foundation is committed to sparking a passion for science and discovery, supporting effective science education initiatives, and strengthening efforts to make science education and science careers accessible to diverse populations.  Biogen Foundation works to inspire the next generation of science leaders who will make our world better.  Additional information about the Biogen Foundation can be found at