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Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Awards Grant to Support Beginning Teachers

Trustees of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation have awarded a grant to the Development Foundation of the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) to support its Beginning Teachers Sustainability Project.

NCCAT will use the funds to package its “Connections” program into a self-sustaining entity. “Connections” focuses on first year teachers and is designed to reinforce essential skills for good teaching, strengthen instructional practices in the classroom, and build professional networks. The goal of the program is to increase retention rates and improve the skill levels and effectiveness of new teachers. Using a train-the-trainer approach, NCCAT hopes to use video and online tools to build the capacity of a group of leaders across the state who can deliver “Connections” to school districts at an affordable price.

“The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation believes that each child deserves a high-quality education that prepares him or her to be successful in life,” said Joy Vermillion Heinsohn, Director for Programs at the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. “Investing in the instructional capacity and professional development of beginning teachers is important to strengthening our state’s public schools. NCCAT is committed to retaining good beginning teachers who have the ability to positively impact our children’s future. We are proud to partner together to achieve this shared vision.”

With this Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation grant funding, the “Connections” program will move from a direct instruction model to a statewide model utilizing face-to-face and online instruction thanks to the work of NCCAT Lead Center Fellow Deborah Teitelbaum. This project will help increase the scope of NCCAT’s beginning teacher support program.

“For 28 years, NCCAT has been an integral partner in the state’s commitment to ensure that all children in North Carolina’s schools have the highest quality education by providing professional development that gives teachers essential skills and knowledge to positively impact student learning and achievement,” NCCAT Executive Director Richard L. Thompson said. “We are thankful to have the opportunity to partner with the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation on this grant that will support beginning teachers in this critical part of their career.”

Trustees of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation approved its fall 2013 grant awards on November 15. Trustees voted to award 85 grants totaling $6.7 million to organizations serving North Carolina.

About the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation

The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) is committed to improving the quality of life of all North Carolinians. ZSR invests in statewide, regional and community-based organizations that are dedicated to building an inclusive, sustainable and vibrant state. The groups that ZSR supports both work to build healthy, robust communities at the local and regional level and engage in education, civic dialogue and advocacy around issues of importance to communities and to North Carolina. ZSR currently focuses on the areas of community economic development, environment, public education, social justice and equity and strengthening democracy. The foundation is a 76-year-old private foundation based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. For more information, visit