Western Rural Teacher Leader Network Announcement

The Rural Teacher Leadership Network (RTLN), is designed to bring together diverse groups of educators across North Carolina who seek to strengthen their practice, foster community with teacher leaders from across other rural districts, and develop their leadership capacity to guide other teachers in their schools. The network creates a strong and lasting community of rural educators with a focus on equity, trauma-informed practice, global education, and teacher leadership. Educators completing the RTLN program generally communicate an appreciation for the collaboration opportunities with their peers and increased preparedness to use the knowledge learned to benefit each student in their classes.

Today, we are pleased to announce the launching of a western RTLN cohort in collaboration with an additional partner, GEAR UP at Appalachian State University.  GEAR UP is a federally funded grant program through the U.S. Department of Education which serves Allegany, Ashe, Burke, Clay, Graham, Madison, Swain, Watauga, Wilkes, and Yancey counties. “We are thrilled to provide this opportunity to educators in the western region of the state. Every child benefits when educators are provided the tools and resources to meet the growing needs of a diverse student population,” said  Dr. Deanna Townsend-Smith, the Flood Center’s Senior Director. 

Established partners in this work include LEADING Edge Learning, Participate Learning, Dudley Flood Center for Educational Equity & Opportunity (Flood Center), Center for Resilience & Learning.

Corinne Smith, Director of GEAR UP at Appalachian State University said,  "Western North Carolina represents a strong network of seasoned educators that can help build the region's capacity for growing our own leaders within schools.  Launching RTLN in the west gives these deserving teachers the opportunity to explore their pathways to leadership, which will ultimately lead to positive outcomes in our GEAR UP schools."

Educators in these districts applied for participation in RTLN; participants were admitted through a rigorous selection process, and will receive a stipend to support their participation in the program. We would like to congratulate these cohort members, who are listed below.

2023 - 2024 Rural Teacher Leader West Network:

  • Lucas Pasley, Alleghany County
  • Sarah Beckworth, Ashe County
  • Torrey Annas, Burke County
  • Angel Barnsback, Burke County
  • Tim Gallagher, Burke County
  • Heidi Galloway, Burke County
  • Kelly Del Gatto, Burke County
  • Eric Minetola, Burke County
  • Bridget Newman, Burke County
  • Amy Zittel, Burke County
  • Carla Beck, Clay County
  • Jill White, Clay County
  • Karla Jones, Graham County
  • Lisa Keener, Graham County
  • Karen Lail, Graham County
  • Josiah R Johnston, Madison County
  • Amelia Allman, Swain County
  • Romona Parsons, Swain County
  • Cori Braxton, Watauga County
  • Susan Irving, Watauga County
  • Blakely Lord, Watauga County
  • Sandra Ruppert, Watauga County
  • Danielle Stewart, Watauga County
  • Genal West, Watauga County
  • Jamie Miles, Wilkes County
  • Hannah Reece, Wilkes County
  • Amber Roark, Wilkes County
  • Brandy Sappington, Wilkes County
  • Heather Austin, Yancey County
  • Michelle Geouge, Yancey County
  • Leslie Hilliard, Yancy County
  • Sarah Laws, Yancey County
  • Sallie Senseney, Yancey County
Western Rural Teacher Leader Network Announcement
Published: Feb 1, 2023 12:00am