Rodney D. Pierce, a former eighth-grade social studies, civics, and economics teacher at William R. Davie Middle STEM Academy, has been selected as the inaugural Teacher Fellow for the NC Equity Fellowship.
Pierce is now a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Red Oak Middle School in the Nash-Rocky Mount system.
The fellowship is administered through the Center for Racial Equity in Education and EducationNC, which is a “collection of nonprofits and initiatives” founded following the Leandro v. State lawsuit to improve educational opportunities and academic attainment for all of the state’s children while improving the performance of the state’s public schools.
Halifax County Schools and families within the district were parties to the suit, which was initially filed in the county in 1994.
“This is extra special to me as I was a sophomore at Northwest (Halifax High School) when Leandro was filed,” said Pierce, the 2019 NC Council for the Social Studies Teacher of the
Year. “I’m blessed and fortunate to have this opportunity and look forward to working with CREED and EdNC to resolve the racial inequities in public education in North Carolina.”
Joining Pierce in the inaugural cohort is Board Fellow Porscha McMillan, a public administrator and member of the Cumberland County Board of Education, Journalism Fellow Emiene Wright, a Charlotte-based journalist whose work has been featured in the Charlotte Observer, Our State Magazine, and the NAACP’s Crisis Magazine, and Principal Fellow Dr. Jonita Taylor, a school administrator in Guilford County Schools and a Northampton County Schools alumna.
“I’m excited to be working alongside my homegirl,” Pierce said of Taylor. “Especially when so many of the racial inequities in public education are prominent in eastern North Carolina, where we’re from.”
According to EducationNC’s website, the fellowship “seeks to support fellows in the design and implementation of individual projects that work to urgently disrupt pressing educational inequities in North Carolina. While remaining in their educational field or profession, fellows will receive ongoing mentorship and support to design and carry out their projects.”
Pierce’s mentor is North Carolina State Representative Graig Meyer, who represents Caswell and Orange counties in the state House. Meyer is a member of several House committees, including Education K-12.
This past summer, Pierce completed professional development with the George Washington Teacher Institute — Slavery in George Washington’s World — the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History — American Civil War: Origins and Consequences — and the North Carolina Association of Educators, where he became an Instruction and Professional Development trainer in teaching students from impoverished and traumatic backgrounds and a mentor in the NCAE Educators of Color Academy.