Watson Chronicle


Watson College News

WCE Faculty Honored for Scholarly Engagement and Public Service

Friday, September 10, 2021

Angelina Reid-Griffin and Meredith Jones have received UNCW awards for Distinguished Scholarly Engagement and Public Service. Reid-Griffin, recipient of the Senior Scholar award, is a professor of secondary science in the Department of Instructional Technology, Foundations and Secondary Education at the Watson College. Jones, recipient of the Junior Scholar award, is an assistant professor of early childhood education in the Department of Early Childhood, Elementary, Middle, Literacy and Special Education. The awards were presented at the university’s fall faculty meeting on September 9.

Angelia Reid-Griffin

Angelia Reid-Griffin’s signature impact through engagement and public service has been her leadership of UNCW’s Junior Seahawk Academy, an educational day program that she helped found in 2005. The academy’s primary goal is to motivate economically disadvantaged and underrepresented students to develop an interest in learning by engaging them in real-world, hands-on, STEM field experiences. To date, the Junior Seahawk Academy has served more than 500 middle school-aged students in southeastern North Carolina.

Through and alongside Junior Seahawk Dr. Reid-Griffin has achieved an excellent record of scholarship. She has authored more than two dozen publications, including five technical reports for the National Science Foundation. She also disseminates her work through presentations at national, international, regional, state and local conferences.

Dr. Reid-Griffin is a passionate advocate for STEM initiatives and passionate about mentoring students of color. She is active in four professional organizations focused on STEM and science learning, and her ongoing community-based efforts include collaboration with STEM LC colleagues and school educators to prepare science kits for students at local schools; serving as a judge at Regional Science Fair competitions; and partnering with teachers in support of Science Olympiad teams and other programs to increase student interest in STEM.

She has been highly successful in grant activities, having secured over $950,000 to support and expand her ability to create learning opportunities for children, young adults, and professional educators across local communities, the region, and the state. 

In 2015, Reid-Griffin was among the women selected for INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine’s “100 Inspiring Women in STEM” award. In 2020, she received the North Carolina Science, Mathematics and Technology Education (SMT) Center’s 2020 award for excellence in informal STEM education.

“Dr. Reid-Griffin is the epitome of bringing together the resources of the University and the community to engage, enhance and celebrate the public good,” said Watson College Dean Van Dempsey. “Through her capacity to engage across a range of communities, her passion and love for science learning, and her command of the art and craft of teaching and scholarship about it, she has created a rare imprimatur. As an African-American woman in STEM, her work, and her presence create a space where learning, mentoring, advocacy and amplification of the voices and aspirations of children of color in STEM happen in powerful ways.”

Meredith Jones

Meredith Jones joined the faculty at UNCW in 2017. She is coordinator of WCE’s M.Ed. program in leadership, policy and advocacy in early childhood, and active in public service at the international, national, state and local levels.

Dr. Jones is part of a collaborative partnership with the Ministry of Education in Belize. Since 2018, she has provided professional development for Belizean teachers and co-led groups of UNCW students in study abroad. This work has generated a demonstration classroom, a literacy camp, and the co-construction of critical professional development for educators and resulted in peer-reviewed publications, grant funding, presentations at Belize's Teacher Educator conference and acknowledgement in the local newspaper in San Pedro, Belize. The work will continue once COVID19 restrictions have been lifted.

In Fall 2020, Dr. Jones conducted an applied learning, community-focused project with 32 UNCW graduate students across North Carolina. The pedagogy project uses photovoice research to cultivate advocacy for young children and families and the early childhood workforce in the state. Students engaged in correspondence with state legislators and representatives and were invited to meet with the Director of North Carolina’s Division of Child Development and Early Education. The project, which was supported by an external award, has resulted in scholarly publication and led to new collaborations with the North Carolina Association for the Education of Young Children and the Care Services Association.

Dr. Jones received the 2020 Early Career Researcher Award from the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators in recognition of this work. Additionally, this work has been accepted for presentation at two national conferences in spring 2022 and will be shared in a peer-reviewed book chapter. 

Dr. Jones is also active in local civic organizations. She serves on the Board of Directors of Smart Start of New Hanover County, and as a member of a higher education workgroup with the NC Institute for Child Development Professionals.

“Dr. Jones’s work reflects promising accomplishments that benefit communities in the education of young children and in the professional learning of their educators,” Dean Dempsey said. “She has established a significant record of scholarly engaged practices that impact and enhance the public good at the international, state and local levels. I have a deep sense of respect for her work, her passion and her commitment to enhancing children’s lives.”

Reid-Griffin and Jones were featured in UNCW home page story on September 10: UNCW Faculty Honored for Teaching, Scholarship and Service.