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Natalie Currie named a 2023 Jeanes Fellow

Natalie Currie, a first-grade teacher at West Rowan Elementary School, has been selected as a Jeanes Fellow. The Jeanes Fellows Program “recognizes teachers who possess exceptional leadership strength and commitment to excellence in educating students.” 

As a Jeanes Fellow, Currie will participate in a 2-year cohort of professionals in education across North Carolina. The Jeanes Fellowship includes opportunities for professional development, leadership, and networking and provides financial resources to establish classroom programs that will create enriching learning experiences for her students. 

“Attending the first Jeanes Fellows meeting was a surreal feeling. To have the opportunity to sit at the table and share in conversations with educators from different parts of the state and several different levels in education was a great feeling and an opportunity that I will not take for granted,” Currie said.

The Jeanes Fellows Program, which was established in June 2022 by the Dudley Flood Center for Educational Equity and Opportunity and The Innovation Project (TIP), “will increase student performance by helping districts engage communities and empower historically underrepresented parents in working with school districts to achieve goals.”

The Program is modeled on the mission of the Jeanes’ Teachers program established in 1907 by Anna Jeanes, a Quaker woman, who donated one million dollars to establish a group of black women educators to improve education for blacks in rural America. 

Jeanes Fellows will help improve equity in North Carolina classrooms, using “a cohort model approach to intentionally respond to systemic issues of recruiting and retaining teachers of color.” They will gather regularly to learn, collaborate, develop strategies, and share lessons learned from their work in their home districts. TIP and the Dudley Flood Center will share lessons learned with districts across the state and country, to expand the program's impact on student outcomes. 

The impact Currie has made on the West Rowan community has been 23 years in the making. Currie has spent all of those in the Rowan-Salisbury School System as a teacher in kindergarten through second-grade classrooms. Her impact is evidenced by the visits she still gets from her students, now adults, and by the connection she has to students whose parents were once in Currie’s class.

“Natalie Currie believes that all children have the potential to be successful and works hard to ensure that they have the tools they need to achieve their goals. Ms. Currie is an excellent representative for Rowan-Salisbury Schools. We are excited to see the impact of her participation as a Jeanes’ Fellow in her school and in the RSS system,” RSS Superintendent Kelly Withers said. 

Currie is excited as well to represent her students and draw upon some advice that she hopes for them as she embraces her new learning experience in the Jeanes Program. 

“I would tell students looking to find their place in this world that once they set their sites on something never give up on it. Your voice is never too small and you can accomplish whatever you put your mind to as long as you remain determined and never let fear deter you from your goals” Currie said. “I do what I do for the love of the students, and I love what I do.”