West Rowan Elementary teacher named Jeanes Fellow

Published 12:01 am Thursday, February 16, 2023

SALISBURY — Natalie Currie, a first-grade teacher at West Rowan Elementary School in Cleveland, has been selected as a Jeanes Fellow, which is meant to recognize teachers who have exceptional leadership strength and commitment to excellence in educating students.

She will participate in a two-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 enrich her students’ learning experiences.

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

The Jeanes Fellows Program, which was established in June 2022 by the Dudley Flood Center for Educational Equity and Opportunity, is designed to provide consistent and intentional infrastructure to support community-school relationships using an equity lens.

The program is modeled on the mission of the Jeanes Teachers program established in 1907 by Anna Jeanes, a Quaker woman, who donated $1 million to establish a group of Black women educators to improve education for Blacks in rural America.

The Flood Center’s plans for the Jeanes Fellows include helping improve equity in North Carolina classrooms, using “a cohort model approach to intentionally respond to systemic issues of recruiting and retaining teachers of color.”

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. The visits evidence the impact 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,” said Kelly Withers, Rowan-Salisbury Schools superintendent. “We are excited to see the impact of her participation as a Jeanes Fellow in her school and in the RSS system.”

Currie is excited as well to represent her students 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 sights on something, never give up on it,” Currie said. “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. I do what I do for the love of the students, and I love what I do.”