Sports fans across North Carolina recently had the chance to learn more about electric cooperatives and their commitment to community and local education as Haywood EMC’s Danielle Wittekind and the co-op’s 2020-21 Kenan Fellow, Noal Castater, participated in a radio interview to share how the partnership is spurring STEM learning opportunities and awareness of local career paths for students. The interview aired on Wolfpack-affiliated stations last Wednesday, Jan. 27, prior to the N.C. State men’s basketball game versus ACC rival Wake Forest, and can also be heard below:
Learn more about the Kenan Fellows Program in this video.
The Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership seeks to advance K-12 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education by providing educators with relevant, real-world professional learning and leadership development through innovative collaborations with partners committed to 21st-century education and workforce preparation. The year-long fellowship includes a three-week summer internship that provides real-world experience in a STEM setting, and 80 hours of professional development to build leadership capacity and promote curricular design bridging STEM at work with STEM at school.
In the pre-recorded interview, Castater and his mentor at Haywood EMC, Danielle Wittekind, focus on the awareness of local career opportunities the Kenan Fellows partnership aims to foster.
“As an HR professional, I can speak to the difficulty of filling certain positions with the people that are within your community or sharing with the future workforce what careers exist here at home,” said Wittekind. “My hope is that one day we hire somebody who says that they heard about Haywood EMC and the careers we have here from what they learned in the classroom through Noal or through other educators who have learned from Noal’s curricula here in western North Carolina.”
During his fellowship, Castater, a career technical education teacher at Waynesville Middle School, experienced first-hand the work that goes into operating an electric cooperative and the career opportunities that exist within the field. The knowledge he gained will then be integrated into a classroom project to be implemented during the school year.
“The biggest impact were the people at Haywood EMC, just how happy they were, and intelligent and their pride and commitment to the industry,” said Castater, speaking of his time spent at the cooperative. “I want my students to learn what a great place this is—a local STEM industry in Haywood County—and I would absolutely love for them to follow in their footsteps and maybe start a career at Haywood EMC.”
Castater is one of two Kenan Fellows being hosted by the state’s electric cooperatives this year. Tri-County EMC, based in Dudley, also hosted fellow Erica Levai, a science teacher at James Kenan High School in Duplin County. Levai and Tri-County EMC General Manager Mike Davis participated in a pregame radio interview before the NC State men’s football game versus Miami this past fall. Listen to the interview below.
Including these two fellows, North Carolina electric cooperatives have sponsored and hosted nine Kenan Fellows since 2014. Learn more about the cooperatives’ commitment to education through programs like the Kenan Fellows Program for Teacher Leadership by visiting the In the Community section of our website.