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Union Academy teacher appointed to state leadership council

Macon County teacher Emilee Higdon was appointed to help shape the future of education in North Carolina. Higdon is a Secondary ELA Teacher at Union Academy.

Teachers in North Carolina’s public schools will have more of a voice in state-level decisions under a new Teacher Leadership Council launched by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt and unveiled to the State Board of Education by Special Advisor on Teacher Engagement Julie Pittman.

The council’s 30 teacher members, who will meet monthly, will serve as an advisory board for the agency as well as a key communications conduit for educators in schools across the state. Truitt and Pittman shared the news on the new Leadership Council members to state superintendents and school principals just this week.

“Convening this Teacher Leadership Council is an important way to stay in tune with the needs of those in the field through direct lines of communication,” Truitt said. “This group of leaders allows for the department to better understand and support educators, while providing an opportunity to engage directly with them on the challenges they face and how we can overcome them together.”

The goals of the Teacher Leadership Council are twofold. The council will help strengthen communication channels with teachers across the state, allowing them to provide input and feedback educational issues that affect them, their students and schools throughout the year. The council also will serve as a professional development opportunity for those who have an interest in teacher leadership.

The council consists of representatives from the state’s eight educational regions, as well as charter schools. The goal in the council’s membership is to ensure diverse geographical participation, as the challenges teachers face are often unique to their location and community. To ensure broad representation, members are also selected based on subject area, grade level, and number of years in the classroom.

The Council is co-chaired by Pittman and 2020 Burroughs Wellcome North Carolina Teacher of the Year, Maureen Stover, and supported by the 2021 winner, Eugenia Floyd. The 2021-22 Council members are listed below:

Maureen Stover, chair, Cumberland County Schools
Eugenia Floyd, Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools
Emily Angels, Cabarrus County Schools
Elaina Aponte, Moore County Schools
Jennifer Attkisson, Edenton-Chowan Public Schools
Jennifer Bryan, Brunswick County Schools
Susanna Cerrato, Asheville City Schools
Jonie Chavis, Public Schools of Robeson County
Kenya Clemonts, Halifax County Schools
Dillon Crockett, Lee County Schools
Joy Crosby, NC Virtual School
Danny Eldreth, Ashe County Schools
Erin Ellington, Watauga County Schools
Emilee Higdon, Macon County Schools
Melisa Gaddy, NC Charter School
Laura Jane Howald, Polk County Schools
Sara Lilley, Vance County Schools
Tamara Myslinski, Rutherford County Schools
Caroline Olson, Wake County Public School System
Anneke Oppewal, Orange County Schools
Kelly Poquette, Alamance-Burlington School System
Eric Riggs, Surry County Schools
Nicole Rivers, Cumberland County Schools
Daniel Roseman, NC Virtual School
Sally Schultz, Rowan-Salisbury Schools
Cecelia Sizoo-Roberson, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
Andrea Snyder, NC Charter School
Darylanne Towery, Lenoir County Public Schools
Stephanie Wallace, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
Jeremy White, NC Charter School
Hannah Wirt, Catawba County Schools

Monthly meetings will cover teacher leadership opportunities, and discussion will be centered around ongoing initiatives, current events, and challenges facing educators. With participation by Truitt, council members will have the opportunity to provide feedback before closing with general questions and concerns. Meetings will be conducted both virtually and in-person.

The Teacher Leadership Council held its first meeting earlier this month. For more information on the council, please email

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