Five Durham Public Schools Teachers Named Biogen Foundation Kenan Fellows

DURHAM, N.C. – Five Durham Public Schools (DPS) educators have been named 2021-22 Kenan Fellows. Their fellowships were made possible through a partnership between the Biogen Foundation, DPS and the Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership at N.C. State University.

The teachers are part of the 2021-22 Kenan Fellows cohort and their fellowship projects will focus on workforce development and career pathways in the biotechnology field. The chosen educators will intern with one of three local partners in the biotech field including Biogen, Novozymes, and the Biomanufacturing Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE) at NC Central University. The teachers will collaborate with each other and school district leaders to create resources that will help to improve the biotech industry talent pipeline.

“The Biogen Foundation is committed to enriching lives through science and providing students with equitable access to a quality science education. We understand the fundamental role that teachers play in empowering students and getting them excited about science,” said Melissa Seymour, Global Head of Quality and Chief Quality Officer, Biogen Foundation Board member. “We are proud to support the Kenan Fellows Program and their work to provide educators with relevant, real-world professional learning and leadership development. We hope that this program will help to unlock more opportunities for students and show them the endless possibilities of science.”

The fellowships were made possible through a grant from the Biogen Foundation, and support from DPS. The educators are listed below.

  • Breanna Autry, Lucas Middle School
  • Sharon Johnson, Northern High School
  • Jean Sciacca, Durham Performance Learning Center
  • Kelsie Sommerfeld, CE Jordan High School
  • Abigail Thompson, Northern High School

Kenan fellowships are awarded through a competitive application process. As part of the fellowship, the educators will attend a series of professional learning institutes focused on project-based learning, digital learning and leadership development. Teachers remain in the classroom while completing the yearlong fellowship. Educators 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, Kenan Fellows lead pro-actively within their schools and districts. Many become empowered to influence and lead educational innovation at state and national levels.

“Thanks to the support of industry leaders such as Biogen, we are able to provide educators with knowledge of local career opportunities available to students, and strengthen ties between education and industry,” said Dr. Elaine Franklin, director of the Kenan Fellows Program.