Watson Chronicle


Support for Educators in the Field

WCE Celebrates Success of Master Teachers Program

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

WCE’s Master Teachers initiative, offered through the Professional Development System Office, pairs outstanding teachers in WCE partnership schools with WCE faculty for three years to collaborate on the design and implementation of a shared professional growth opportunity impacting their students, school, district and/or broader professional community.

Master Teachers also mentor beginning teacher Promise of Leadership Award recipients, and are often called upon to provide lesson demonstrations, serve as guest speakers/panelists at selected Watson events and/or serve as an Advisory Board member to the PDS Office or Dean.

WCE’s 2018-2022 Master Teachers and faculty partners are:

  • Kylee Maarschalk, teacher at New Hanover High School and Dr. Robert Smith, professor of secondary education 
    Peter Hunt, K-5 Instructional Coach at Murrayville Elementary School and Dr. Lynn Sikma, associate professor, EEMLS 
  • Caroline Kemmerer, Fourth grade teacher at Holly Tree Elementary, Dr. Kathy Fox professor of language and literacy, and Dr. Lisa Buchanan, associate professor of education at Elon University (formerly UNCW) 
  • Christa Tompkins, English teacher at SEA-Tech, and Dr. Amy Garrett Dikkers, professor, Department of Educational Leadership 
  • Alison Bellamy, ​Second grade teacher at Murrayville Elementary and Dr. Martin Wasserberg, associate professor of elementary education and assistant chair of WCE’s Department of EEMLS
  • Becky Ham,  Instructional Coach, Columbus County Schools and Dr. Laura Szech, assistant professor of language and literacy 
  • Jennifer-Jon L. Choate, Third grade teacher at Codington Elementary, Dr. Crystalyn Schnorr-Goodnight, associate professor of special education ​and Dr. Caitlyn Ryan, associate professor of language and literacy (provided support in the first year)
  • Ashley Huygens, Advanced Academic Services and Resource Teacher in the DoDEA (Mid-Atlantic district) and Dr. Brian Housand, faculty member and AIG program coordinator 
  • Brooke Kenworthy,  MTSS/Instructional Coach at Mary C. Williams Elementary and Dr. Brian Brinkley, director of WCE’s Betty Stike Education Laboratory 
  • Carly Kanzler, music teacher at Eaton Elementary School and Dr. Dan Johnson, professor of music education 

Overview of Projects

Kylee Maarschalk/Robert Smith

Maarschalk and Smith have collaborated with P-12 colleagues and conducted research on issues including beginning teacher support, teacher leadership and school innovation. They were involved with the formation of Team Starfish and the convening of several Teaching and Educational Change focus groups. Their publications include The Genie is out of the Bottle: Exploring Opportunities to Rethink Public Education and Collaboration and Innovation in a Pandemic Offer Promise for a New Direction, both published in EdNC. With the support of the Christensen Institute, the team is researching the impact of relationships to students’ success in high school, comparing the experiences of students who participate in programs to those who don’t, and examining how participation varies across demographics. Their work has been featured on WHQR, Spectrum News and as a presentation at AERA.

Peter Hunt/Lynn Sikma

Hunt and Sikma had planned to research ways to coach veteran teachers, but shifted their focus following the onset of the pandemic. In late Spring 2020, the collaborators began to take detailed notes about remote and hybrid learning and the effects it had on teachers. Throughout this process, Hunt also trained several cohorts of UNCW interns on using Seesaw as a Learning Management System. The data and research findings form the foundation for a chapter they are co-authoring to be submitted for the book Family Literacy Practices and Home School Connections: Perspectives From a Year at Home. Their chapter, “Evolving Literacies: One Instructional Coaches' Observations During the Pandemic,” summarizes the impact of the pandemic on family literacy practices over the past two years.

Caroline Kemmerer/Kathy Fox/Lisa Buchanan

Kemmerer’s MT collaboration focused on reading in the classroom through novel studies. This collaboration evolved through the pandemic, from face-to-face interactions between preservice teachers and P-12 students, to zoom meetings and writing letters back and forth. Kemmerer’s work with Buchanan was published in a Social Studies Journal, Social Studies and the Young Learner. Kemmerer was also able to present the novel study work, as well as classroom management strategies, to Fox's MAT class. All projects provided professional growth opportunities outside of Kemmerer’s 4th grade classroom.

Christa Tompkins/Amy Garrett Dikkers
Tompkins and Garrett Dikkers initially planned to merge Garrett Dikker’s course on the Social Change Model of Leadership Development with Tompkins’s English II curriculum to create a socially relevant leadership platform for sophomore students. The intended outcome was for students to be able to use their knowledge of leadership to promote social change in a chosen area of interest. The team modified their plan during the pandemic. Currently, they are working to secure funding for all books needed to create a 4-6 week unit which incorporates modules from the Social Change course into an English II curriculum unit entitled Extending Freedom's Reach.

Alison Bellamy/Martin Wasserberg

This team’s initial plan to research how standardized testing affects students' perceptions of themselves was interrupted by the pandemic, but Bellamy found several other opportunities as a PDS Master Teacher. She participated in the Starfish group’s action research work on teacher leadership, worked with Dr. Ben Owens from Open Way Learning on school innovation, and attended the Regional Eggs and Issues Breakfast hosted by the Watson College; all opportunities that fueled a desire to become involved in educational policy. During her time as a Master Teacher, Bellamy began collaborating with state members of NCAE and became the NHCAE Government Relations Chair, where she worked with local officials and school board members, and met with State Legislators and Governor Cooper. She was recently accepted to the Educational Leadership Doctoral Program at the University of Kentucky and will begin in the Fall. 

Becky Ham/Laura Szech

Ham and Szech targeted a group of teachers in a Columbus County school who participated in professional learning experiences focused on family engagement. These sessions were well attended and provided high interest opportunities for teachers who reported wanting to make changes to their classrooms and family conferences.

Jennifer-Jon L. Choate/Crystalyn Schnorr-Goodnight

As a result of their collaboration with Codington Elementary School’s Leadership Team and colleagues, Choate and Schnorr-Goodnight will be creating a schoolwide vocabulary to use beginning in kindergarten that fosters independent learners. The project is called S.O.S. and correlates with the school’s mandatory book study focused on Culturally Responsive Teaching and an ongoing need to foster independence after virtual learning. Representatives from each grade level and department will participate in a book study with the book, Learning for Keeps by Rhoda Koenig, and Choate and Schnorr-Goodnight will implement a functional behavior assessment that tracks staying on task, self-monitoring, self-reinforcement and self-regulating.

Ashley Huygens/Brian Housand

Huygens says her experiences as a Master Teacher helped to foster and build her confidence as a leader in her school, community and nationally. With Dr. Housand’s support, she applied and was accepted to present at both the North Carolina Association for the Gifted & Talented Conference and the National Association for Gifted Children Conference. Her presentations focused on enriching gifted learners using digital portfolios, technology and student choice. As a Master Teacher, Huygens was also able to grow her professional network and gain leadership experience mentoring and supporting a PDS Promise of Leadership recipient, Allyson Wiggs, in her academic teaching and leading journey.

Brooke Kenworthy/Brian Brinkley

Kenworthy and Brinkley focused their collaboration on applying a strengths-based approach to professional development. Through PD offerings, titled Teaching to Your Strengths, Kenworthy has guided more than 100 teachers to discover and develop their own core strengths while encouraging them to consider the strengths of the students in their classrooms. The partnership has empowered teachers to increase the engagement, enrichment and accomplishments of both teachers and students. Feedback provided insights into how the program impacted participants’ teaching and their lives: 88 percent said the PD changed the way they see themselves; 25 percent said they have already engaged students differently using what they learned; 40 percent said it has impacted their interactions with others including colleagues; and 100 percent said they would engage in follow up PD on strengths-based teaching.

Carly Kanzler/Dan Johnson

The main focus Kanzler and Johnson’s work involved collaboration with a national research team to integrate music and the other arts into general education for elementary and middle-school classrooms. Their work has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including a recent publication in Qualitative Research in Music Education in February. Their research team, including professors from Montana State University and Northern Michigan University, have presented their findings at national and international conferences including the National Association for Professional Development Schools (NAPDS) in March 2021, and the Australian and New Zealand Association for Research in Music Education (ANZARME) in October 2021. When results highlighted the need for greater teacher collaboration as well as a lack of quality, curated, interdisciplinary lessons, Kanzler vetted and compiled a list of exemplar IME lessons as free resources for K-5 teachers; subdivided this resource listing by grade level and content area; and shared the list with teachers at her school and district. With the support of MT funding, she also bought and created a music integration instrument kit that K-5 classroom teachers at Eaton Elementary can now use to teach these and other IME lessons.

The team is continuing their work. Current projects include mentoring elementary music teachers from Onslow and New Hanover Counties as they develop and deliver IME lessons to their students; work on a co-authored chapter, “Meaningful Music Integration: Disrupting K-8 Classroom and Music Teacher Preparation and Practice” for the book Points of Disruption in the Music Education Curriculum (2022, in press); an accepted presentation for the 35th World Conference of the International Society for Music Education; and a follow-up to their peer-reviewed, published research on IME that expands its research focus beyond IME to include Integrated Arts Education. Their expanded research has been submitted for presentation at the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) conference in 2022.

New MT Cohort Begins in Fall 2022

WCE’s PDS Office will continue the Master Teachers program with a new 2022-25 cohort. Nominations will be accepted beginning in early August.

For more information visit the PDS website.