Watson Chronicle


Watson College News

Ann Potts and Liz Barber Receive Fulbright Scholarships

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Ann Potts, associate dean of Teacher Education and Outreach at the Watson College and Liz Barber, faculty member in the Department of Educational Leadership, have been awarded Fulbright Scholarships to continue their research in Malawi, Africa. They will complete the assignment in the spring of 2018.

UNCW Announcement of the Award

A UNCW home page story announcing the Fulbright Awards is included in its entirety here (written by Caroline Cropp, Office of University Relations)

Fulbright Scholarships to Support UNCW Educators’ Ongoing Work with African Youth

Two UNCW Watson College of Education faculty members have been awarded Fulbright Scholarships to continue their research in sub-Saharan Africa.

Each year, Ann Potts, WCE associate dean for teacher education and outreach, and Elizabeth Barber, a part-time faculty member in WCE's Department of Educational Leadership, take students to Malawi, Africa, for a month of hands-on research in area schools.

“It is quite significant to have two Watson College faculty scholars selected for prestigious Fulbright Scholarship awards in the same year," said WCE Dean Van Dempsey. "Their work continues along a successful history of Watson colleagues who have made such an impact on a global scale. I commend Ann and Liz on their teamwork and continued commitment to enhancing education for children in Malawi.”

In many emerging nations impacted by European colonization, school is taught in a language that children neither speak nor understand. As a result, few are able to progress to secondary education. Mother Tongue Literacy teaches children using the language they know from their homes – their “mother tongue.”

Potts and Barber met in 1985 while earning graduate degrees at Virginia Tech. Both began work in Malawi in 2004 to support the country’s universal primary education initiative. Their work focuses on literacy development and helping secure critically needed health and educational resources for learners and teachers.

“Our work in Malawi is an outgrowth of all that we have learned together to date and responds to needs explicitly expressed by teacher participants in a Mother Tongue Literacy seminar that we have facilitated since 2010,” said Potts.

They will conduct their Fulbright-funded research from March through July 2018.

While they both admit surprise at being awarded at the same time, they are grateful for the opportunity to continue to work side-by-side with their friends and colleagues in Malawi to co-construct innovative practices that support youth education.  

The Fulbright Program is a highly competitive, merit-based grant for international educational exchange for students, scholars, teachers, professionals, scientists and artists.

In 2016, UNCW was recognized as a top producer of Fulbright Scholars. Excellence in teaching and scholarship, as well as a global focus, are priorities as outlined in UNCW’s Strategic Plan. Having students, faculty and staff consistently honored with Fulbrights is a measure of UNCW’s continued success. 

Work in Malawi is featured in Book Chapter, StarNews Story

Ann Potts and Liz Barber are co-authors of a chapter in the book Grassroots Leadership and the Arts for Social Change, published by Emerald Publishing Limited in March. The chapter is titled, “Crafting Community Change through Books and Pads: The Tikondwe Teachers Project in Domasi, Malawi.” Co-authors are Kevin Bottomley, Justin Snyder, Alinane Misomali, Denise Archuleta, David H. Davenport, Marsha Dwyer, Destenie Nock, Lucy Kapenuka and Chifundi Ziyaya. The book is part of the series Building Leadership Bridges.

Watson College graduate student Claire Kenney is traveling to Malawi with Potts and Barber in summer 2017. A story she authored, UNCW students helping children in Malawi, was published in the StarNews on April 3.