The A+ Fellows who conduct high-quality professional development for A+ schools and our partner organizations enter the network as apprentices with a wide range of expertise and experience. They are asked to serve in a “cognitive apprenticeship” role for one year, observing and assisting veteran A+ Fellows as they conduct professional development. Meet the nine A+ Apprentice Fellows who joined A+ Schools in 2021.
Erin Badger-Coffey has been supporting early childhood educators since 2013 by providing arts-integration professional development as a Wolf Trap teaching artist. She is a lead dance instructor for the Inspire Inclusion Dance program in Charlotte, and serves as a program consultant for Kidznotes. In 2020, Erin began collaborating with Sarah Council Dance Projects to co-facilitate virtual creative movement and poetry workshop experiences for all ages called Dancing the Poem. Erin graduated from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in contemporary dance.
Sarah Council is a teaching artist and the artistic director of Sarah Council Dance Projects, a contemporary modern dance company based in Charlotte that provides K-12 arts-integrated residencies and workshops throughout Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. Her education program Move, Create, and Collaborate has been featured at the United Arts of Raleigh/Wake County’s Arts Integration Institute. Sarah is also a teaching artist with the Wolf Trap Institute of Early Learning Through the Arts.
Medina Demeter is a theater arts teacher and arts department chair at Hoke County High School, in Raeford. She is also the co-chapter director of North Carolina Thespians and is involved with the professional enrichment team of North Carolina Theatre Arts Educators. From 2014-2019, she was a member of the Sweet Tea Shakespeare company, in Fayetteville, where she acted in, directed, and house-managed several productions. Medina was named 2020 Educator of the Year by North Carolina Theatre Arts Educators.
Dr. Gina Grandi is a professor in the theatre and dance department at Appalachian State University, specializing in theater education. Before joining the ASU faculty, she was a full-time public school teacher, teaching artist, teacher mentor, and nonprofit program director. While living in New York, Gina was co-founder and artistic director of the theater company The Bechdel Group and an artistic associate and dramaturg for New York University’s New Plays for Young Audiences. Gina has a B.A. from Vassar College and a Ph.D. from NYU.
Princess Johnson is an international dancer, choreographer, entrepreneur, and motivator based in Greensboro. She established a dance production company and school—Royal Expressions Contemporary Ballet—in 2009, where she has created six original dance productions, taught hundreds of students, and led a team to bring world-renowned ballerina Misty Copeland to Greensboro in 2014. In February 2020, Princess was recognized by Black Business Ink as one of the “40 under 40” most influential people in the Triad.
Kirtina Jones is a veteran educator with the Durham Public Schools System, where she has served for 18 years at R. N. Harris Integrated Arts and Core Knowledge Magnet—an A+ school! A graduate of North Carolina Central University and a Ron Edmonds teaching scholar, Kirtina received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and her master’s degree in instructional technology. She was named 2018 Durham Public School District Teacher of the Year and is currently a graduate student in the educational leadership doctoral program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Dr. Rue Lee-Holmes is a music educator for Sampson County Schools and works as an adjunct music instructor at the University of Mount Olive. She is a board-certified music therapist and holds certifications in Orff Schulwerk and World Music Drumming. Rue is a percussionist and a published author, and she conducts training for arts educators. She holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from Meredith College, a master’s degree degree in music education from East Carolina University, and a doctoral degree in music education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Victoria Lightfoot earned her bachelor's degree in elementary education and master’s degree in K-8 math and science from Slippery Rock University, in Pennsylvania. She began her teaching career in Wake County at an A+ school and is currently an instructional math coach at Millbrook Environmental Connections Magnet Elementary. At the district level, Victoria has served as a professional development presenter, curriculum writer, and Discovery Education Ambassador. She has also served as a member of the N.C. Museum of Art advisory council for math, art, and social-emotional learning. In 2020, Victoria was a finalist for Wake County Public Schools’ Teacher of the Year award.
Natalie Wallace, originally from Napier, Ill., is a Raleigh-based educator and musician. She received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in jazz studies from North Carolina Central University. Since graduating from NCCU, Natalie has been a music educator in the public schools and is teaching at Walnut Creek Elementary in Wake County.