Two Western North Carolina Educators Named Facebook Kenan Fellows

FOREST CITY, N.C. – Two Western NC educators have been named 2021-22 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 Kenan Fellows Program connects outstanding educators with mentors in local industry and business settings, creating opportunities that build meaningful relationships. The teachers are part of the 2021-22 Kenan Fellows cohort of 27 educators statewide, and they will receive leadership training to drive innovations in STEM education and help students build career-ready skills. The Facebook Western NC Fellows are listed below.

  • Renata Crawley is a fifth-grade science teacher at West Marion Elementary School with McDowell County Schools. She has been an educator for 29 years and has her National Board certification. This summer, she will intern at Coats North America.
  • Jill Francis is an AP Environmental Science and AP Biology teacher at Chase High School with Rutherford County Schools. She has been teaching for 22 years and has her National Board certification. This summer, she will intern at Biltmore Farms.

“The Kenan Fellows Program is an outstanding initiative that has proven to provide life-changing and long-term impact for teachers and their students,”  said Katie Comer, Facebook Community Development Regional Manager.  “We can’t wait to see how these two outstanding teachers take what they learn through the program into their classrooms to help their students be college- and career-ready.”

Facebook has been part of the Forest City community since breaking ground on its data center in 2010. This is the second year that Facebook has supported Kenan Fellows. Last year’s Western NC Kenan Fellows were Andrea Walter (Polk Central Elementary School) and Leslie Rinehart (Polk County 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 proactively within their schools and districts. Many become empowered to influence and lead educational innovation at state and national levels.

“Because of industry supporters like Facebook, we are able to provide teachers with the skills needed to build industry-education partnerships that make stronger connections between desirable workforce skills and classroom content,” said Elaine Franklin, director of the Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership.