Two Polk County Schools Teachers Receive 2020-21 Kenan Fellowship Supported by Facebook Grant

FOREST CITY, N.C.Two Polk County Schools educators have been named 2020-21 Kenan Fellows. Their fellowships were made possible through a partnership between Facebook and the Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership at N.C. State University.

The teachers—Andrea Walter of Polk Central Elementary School and Leslie Rhinehart of Polk County High School—are among the 19 teachers from across North Carolina who have been selected to participate in the 2020-21 fellowship year. Last year, a group of 2019-20 Kenan Fellows toured the Facebook Forest City Data Center to continue making connections between their classrooms and the local workforce. The grant that is supporting Walter and Rhinehart will allow Facebook’s partnership with Kenan Fellows to continue to grow.

“The industry-education partnerships created by our program address the need to make stronger connections between desirable workforce skills and classroom content. By bridging the divide, educators can provide students with first-hand knowledge of viable career pathways to help fuel economic engines with local talent,” said Elaine Franklin, director of the Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership. “We are proud to have support from Facebook to be able to reach and empower more teachers in this part of the state.”

“The Kenan Fellows Program provides life-changing, long-term impact for both teachers and their students. Facebook is proud to support these two outstanding Polk County teachers so that their students can be college and career-ready,” said Katie Comer, Community Development Regional Manager, Facebook.

Beginning in June, Walter and Rhinehart will partner with experts at Eaton and Biltmore Farms to make connections between their classrooms and the local workforce. Over the course of the fellowship, the teachers will develop a deeper understanding of local industries, their workforce needs, and how they can make relevant connections for their students.

The fellowships are awarded through a competitive application process. As part of the year-long fellowship, the educators participate in 80 hours of professional development focused on project-based learning, digital learning, and leadership development. Teachers who complete the program say they feel a deeper connection to their community and grow professionally as part of a statewide network of teacher leaders. As their leadership skills grow, Fellows lead pro-actively within their schools and their districts. Many become empowered to influence and lead educational innovation at state and national levels.