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Three New Scholars Join the Friday Institute’s Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Professional Learning and Leading Collaborative (PLLC) at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation hired three new scholars this month to support its computer science and professional learning work. Krista Holland, Carrie Robledo and Russell Strand-Poole joined the team March 13.

I am super excited to welcome three all-star educators to the PLLC team,” said Melissa Rasberry, director of the PLLC. “The unique knowledge, skills and experiences that Carrie, Krista and Russell bring to our professional learning projects will help to propel our work forward. I look forward to seeing how they learn and grow here at the Friday Institute.

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Krista Holland is a professional learning scholar who has been an educator in North Carolina for nearly three decades, most recently in New Hanover County Schools (NHCS), before joining the Friday Institute. Her career spanned from classroom teacher to assistant principal to principal; she also served as director of PreK programs in her district for two years and as a middle grades ELA consultant at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. Krista has received multiple honors, including NHCS Principal of the Year in 2018-19 and the Dissertation of Distinction award from High Point University in 2021. She served as president of the New Hanover County Principals and Assistant Principals Association (NHCPAPA) from 2018-2020. 

I’m looking forward to contributing to the profession on a larger scale, collaborating with our team and sharing my experiences through the lens of a school leader to enhance the services that we offer teachers, schools and districts,” said Holland. “I’m also excited about continuing to grow as a professional because there are so many opportunities to learn at NC State.”

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Carrie Robledo is a computer science research scholar who served an appointment as an educator on loan, split between the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) and Moore County Schools. At NCDPI, she served as an innovative learning catalyst, working with Digital Teaching and Learning as their Central Region coach and supporting teachers with implementing the NC Digital Learning Standards for Students and the NC Computer Science Standards. In her home district of Moore County, Carrie led the implementation of mCS (Moore Computer Science), a Digital Learning Initiative Grant for K-5 teachers. She was honored as the North Carolina Technology in Education Society’s 2020-2021 Outstanding Teacher of the Year, a 2019-2020 Moore County Schools Teacher of the Year and was a 2018-2019 Kenan Fellow.

“The Friday Institute is a renowned research and innovation center that aims to transform education through technology and innovation, so I was elated to be offered the job as a computer science research scholar,” said Robledo. “Being selected to work in such an esteemed organization promotes a sense of pride, achievement and validation. The opportunity to collaborate with some of the brightest minds in the field of education, to contribute to groundbreaking research and initiatives, and to shape the future of teaching and learning is incredibly fulfilling. This work ignites creativity and allows us to make a positive impact on education.” 

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Russell Strand-Poole is a computer science education scholar who has served as a facilitator for the Friday Institute since 2017. After working as a music instructor for a year in Pitt County, he served as a K-8 technology facilitator at Durham Public SchoolsLittle River. Most recently, he worked at Riverside High School, where he helped to broaden access to computer science and engineering courses for underrepresented students. His expertise assisted in his efforts as a steering committee member, working to write the state’s computer science standards that ensured equity was at the center and established a foundational knowledge for all students across North Carolina.

“There is currently a strong push for computer science education in the state, and I cannot wait to begin working with educators to help bring computer science to all of our students,” said Strand-Poole. “I am also looking forward to learning from the amazing staff here. They have a wealth of knowledge and expertise and I am looking forward to learning as much as I can from them.”

The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation advances K-12 education through innovation in teaching, learning and leadership by bringing together students, teachers, researchers, policymakers and educational professionals to foster collaborations that improve education for all learners. The Friday Institute for Educational Innovation is part of NC State’s College of Education, one of the leading land-grant colleges of education in the nation.