Kenan Fellows and IBM RTP partner to help Wake County educators prepare students for world of big data

RALEIGH, N.C. — Partnering with the Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership, IBM is sponsoring two Wake County Public School System educators as 2017–18 Kenan Fellows. The announcement comes in honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week (May 7-12).

The teachers are David Sander of Wake Forest High School in Wake Forest and Shane Westhafer of Panther Creek High School in Cary. Both teach courses in career and technology education. Starting in June, the teachers will collaborate with scientists at separate research facilities at NC State University who are collaborating with IBM to help students understand the processes of recording and analyzing big data.

“We are excited to collaborate with the Kenan Fellows Program and work directly with educators to foster a love of technology and science in future generations, and perhaps inspire students to become the next great leaders and innovators,” said Fran O’Sullivan, IBM NC Senior State Executive.

Sander — a National Board Certified educator who has been teaching for more than 20 years — will intern with Dr. Pam Carpenter and Dr. Ewan Pritchard at the FREEDM Systems Center where he will learn about smart house and grid technologies. He will also collaborate with Dr. Andy Rindos of IBM to analyze the massive amounts of data that come from the use of internet of things technologies.

Westhafter, who has been teaching for seven years, will spend part of his summer under the guidance of Dr. Elena Veety and Dr. Edgar Lobaton at the ASSIST Center. There he will learn about Watson and IOT on IBM Cloud as they support the Guiding Eyes for the blind project to increase dog graduation rates and help match the right dogs to the right people. He will also collaborate with Rindos at IBM to learn concepts that will help him innovate ways to use the data collected through his research.

“The summer internship is an integral part of the Kenan Fellows Program experience. Spending several weeks with researchers and industry experts provides educators unprecedented opportunities for learning, discussion, and development of tools and resources that they can bring back to the classroom,” said Elaine Franklin, director of the Kenan Fellows Program. “Thanks to industry leaders such as IBM, we are able to develop teacher leaders who innovate ways to help students connect how the technology, math and science they learn in school can be used in their future work.”

The fellowship is supported by 80 hours of professional development provided by the Kenan Fellows Program that focuses on building leadership skills and delivering proven instructional strategies. The Fellows are awarded a $5,000 stipend and must remain in the classroom while completing the year-long fellowship. So far, about 400 teachers statewide have gone through the Program which has been recognized as a national model. Teachers who complete the Program say they feel a deeper connection to their community and grow professionally as part of a solutions-driven network of teacher leaders.