Halifax County Science Teacher Awarded Prestigious Kenan Fellowship with Roanoke Cooperative

Halifax County Schools educator Dawn Stokes has been honored as a 2023-24 Kenan Fellow by Roanoke Cooperative, North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives and the Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership at N.C. State University.

Stokes teaches eighth-grade science at Enfield Middle S.T.E.A.M Academy and serves as the school’s science department chair, eighth-grade team lead, and member of the school’s improvement team. She is among the 38 Kenan Fellows in the 2023-24 cohort across North Carolina.

Stokes is passionate about integrating real-life experiences into her instruction to help her students see the connection between their community and the local workforce. “My students need to know that the community they live in is rich in innovation and that they can be a part of that innovation,” she said. “If I can somehow tie real life into my instruction in an authentic way, then I can win over my students. This fellowship will help me to help my students see the bigger picture and make me a better teacher in the process.”

The Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership is known for connecting exceptional educators with mentors in local industries and businesses to create meaningful relationships. During a three-week on-site summer internship with their mentor company, Kenan Fellows like Stokes make relevant connections between their classrooms and authentic STEM practices in the workplace. Through this experience, educators develop a deeper understanding of local industries, their workforce needs, and how they can bring relevant connections to their students.

“Roanoke Cooperative is excited to host Dawn as a Kenan Fellow this summer and offer this professional development experience to an outstanding local educator,” said Dennis McFee, vice president of member services, marketing, and public relations at Roanoke Cooperative. “Partnering with the Kenan Fellows Program allows us to inspire our local students through technology and innovation, and we look forward to working with Dawn to help build the next generation of leaders in our community.”

As part of her fellowship, Stokes will work alongside mentors and industry experts at Roanoke Cooperative to explore the cooperative business model, understand how electricity is distributed throughout the region, and learn about the cooperative’s innovative use of technology to build the grid of the future. Stokes will then use this experience to create engaging lessons that will help her students understand the production and distribution of electricity, as well as the various career pathways in the energy field.

The fellowships are awarded through a competitive application process, and once selected, educators like Stokes will develop curriculum and teaching resources that bring workforce preparedness and cutting-edge research into the hands of students. As part of the fellowship, Stokes will also participate in three residential professional learning institutes focused on project-based learning, building a positive school culture, and leadership development. Teachers who have completed the program in the past have reported feeling a deeper connection to their community and professional growth as part of a statewide network of teacher leaders.

“We greatly appreciate Roanoke Cooperative for investing in the professional growth of educators and contributing to the future workforce in their community. These education/industry connections are critical for introducing students to local career opportunities and helping them build the skills needed for their chosen career paths,” said Vance Kite, director of the Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership.

North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives has partnered with the Kenan Fellows Program since 2014 to connect local teachers with electric co-ops, and tie lessons taught in the classroom with real-world skills needed in the workforce. Stokes will be the 10th Kenan Fellow to be hosted and mentored by a North Carolina electric cooperative.

To learn more about how North Carolina’s electric cooperatives are building a brighter future through  investing in education and workforce development, visit www.ncelectriccooperatives.com or contact your local electric co-op.