SOE News

Six retiring from School of Education

Six members of the School of Education’s faculty are retiring this year: Barbara Day, Jill Fitzgerald, Wally Hannum, Russ Rowlett, Pat Shane and Rhonda Wilkerson.

“We are indebted to these six scholars, as they have devoted themselves to their students, to their colleagues and to the School of Education,” said Dean Bill McDiarmid. “We have all been enriched by our association with each of them, and we are gratified to know that their work will continue in the accomplishments of their students.”

Following are brief descriptions of each retiree’s contributions to the School. Click for fuller profiles of each

Barbara Day
Jill Fitzgerald
Wally Hannum
Russ Rowlett
Pat Shane
Rhonda Wilkerson

Barbara Day

Professor Barbara Day has been a faculty member at the School of Education since 1966, previously working as a teacher, principal and assistant superintendent of schools.

Day served as chair of Curriculum and Instruction for 20 years and also as chair of Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, and Teaching and Learning. For 10 years she directed the Carolina Teaching Fellows Program.

Day has written numerous textbooks and has chaired doctoral committees and dissertations for 63 Curriculum and Instruction graduates.

Day said that one of the highlights in her career has been following her students’ careers and seeing how much they have accomplished.

“It has just been such a pleasure to work with so many bright and talented students,” she said.

She was a member of the national task force that in 1988 produced the influential blueprint “Right From the Start.”

Day founded UNC-Chapel Hill’s chapter of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education. In recognition of her service, in 2005 the society created the Dr. Barbara Day Laureate Scholarship for Doctoral Students in Curriculum and Instruction.

She has served as president of three international education organizations: the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society, and Delta Kappa Gamma Society International for Key Women Educators.

She has won numerous awards, including a National Leadership Award from the National Association of International Honor Societies; the Delta Kappa Gamma Achievement Award; the Outstanding Alumni Award from East Carolina University; and, the Phi Delta Kappa Award for Outstanding Leadership.

Day earned her bachelor’s degree at ECU and her M.Ed. and Ph.D. degrees at the School of Education. She has earned a master of divinity degree at Duke University, and an Anglican studies diploma from Virginia Theological Episcopal Seminary, where she is a candidate for the doctor of ministry degree.

“I plan to stay very active,” Day said. “I will be attending and speaking at a number of conferences and programs in the next year and I will be a full-time graduate student next year, completing my dissertation at VTS.”

Day said she loves UNC.

“It’s such a wonderful place, and I recognize that this is the place that enabled me to become the person that I am and to accomplish the things that I have done,” she said.

Jill Fitzgerald

Jill Fitzgerald, is retiring from UNC-Chapel Hill to assume a position as Distinguished Research Scientist at MetaMetrics, a psychometric literacy research organization based in Durham.

“I’m very excited,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s a new chapter and an opportunity to join a group of investigators who have special interests in helping students to be better readers and writers.”

Fitzgerald has been a leading researcher in the field of literacy for more than 25 years, and has served the School of Education as senior associate dean and chief academic officer, director of graduate studies, and as interim dean.

A professor of literacy, Fitzgerald joined the School’s faculty in 1979 and has had a prolific scholarly career in emergent, early school and bilingual literacy.

In May, at the International Reading Association annual conference, she was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame, an honor which recognizes researchers who have made extraordinary contributions to theory and research in the study of literacy. She has won many other awards.  In 1998, she received the American Educational Research Association’s Outstanding Review of Research Award and, with colleague George Noblit, she received the 2000 International Reading Association’s Dina Feitelson Award for Research.

She has published many scholarly articles in leading literacy journals, books and book chapters. She has also contributed service to various federal groups as a review panelist and presenter for bilingual and English-language learners’ literacy issues.

Dixie Spiegel, who retired from the School of Education in 2005 as a professor of literacy, called Fitzgerald a “Renaissance woman” because she is an excellent teacher, a top-flight researcher and a devoted community member.

“Everything she writes becomes an instant classic,” Spiegel said. “She’s not afraid to tackle difficult areas of research, such as English language learners, and she conducts both quantitative and qualitative research, which has made her an excellent doctoral advisor and mentor to young faculty.”

At Carolina, Fitzgerald, Spiegel and retired faculty member Jim Cunningham formed a strong collaboration, Spiegel said.

Fitzgerald earned her bachelor’s degree at Harpur College, SUNY at Binghamton, her master’s at State University College of New York at Cortland, and her Ph.D. at State University of New York at Buffalo.

Fitzgerald said she was going to miss the students, staff, and colleagues in the School of Education.

“UNC is a great institution, and it’s been an honor and a privilege to be on the faculty,” she said.

Wallace Hannum

Wallace “Wally” Hannum, an associate professor of educational psychology, has been a member of the faculty at the School of Education since 1979, teaching graduate-level courses on the use of technology in education, learning theories and instructional design.

He has served as associate director of technology of the National Research Center on Rural Education Support and conducted research on instructional uses of technology, especially distance education, an interest he attributes to growing up in rural Alabama and seeking to help extend educational opportunities to people who live far from city centers.

Hannum has widely consulted for corporations and federal agencies, helping them improve their education and training functions.

He is the author of four books on instructional systems design, task analysis, educational applications of computers, and emerging training technologies, and has published numerous journal articles on developments in technology and implications for educational institutions. He has won awards for his books and for his research on factors influencing the learning of intellectual skills.

Hannum earned his bachelor’s and M.Ed. degrees from Auburn University, and his Ph.D. from Florida State University.

Russ Rowlett

Russ Rowlett joined the School of Education in 1987 as director of the Center for Mathematics and Science Education, a position he has held since.

A clinical professor of education and an adjunct professor of mathematics, Rowlett has designed professional development programs for K-12 teachers throughout North Carolina. He has supervised and supported the Mathematics and Science Education Network and has directed two major professional development projects sponsored by National Science Foundation grants, one for earth science teachers and the other for middle school mathematics teachers.

Rowlett has served as a cohort leader in the M.Ed. for Experienced Teachers program and as program coordinator of the Carolina Cooperative Lateral Entry program, later named the Carolina Online Lateral Entry program.

Rowlett began the NC-MSEN Pre-College Program in 1988. The program focuses on improving math and science skills for students in grades 6 through 12. Though it is open to any North Carolina public school students in these grades, it has historically focused on young women and minority students.

“The Pre-College Program has focused on changing the peer culture that students are in,” Rowlett said. “What we try to do through our work is to change attitudes and expectations so that these students are able to be more confident and say that ‘I will do well in math and science,’ instead of believing that they cannot be successful.

“Working with the Pre-College Program has been the most fulfilling part of my career here,” Rowlett said. “It is the work that I am most proud of.”
Among his publications, Rowlett is the author of the chapter “Numbers and Symbols” in Science and Technical Writing: A Manual of Style. He also is the author of a popular Internet dictionary of units of measurement.

Prior to Carolina, he taught at the University of Tennessee and at Princeton University. 

He obtained his bachelor’s degree and, three years later, his Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Virginia.

In retirement, Rowlett looks forward to spending time at the North Carolina coast with his wife, Ginny.

Rowlett doesn’t plan to give up teaching entirely. He has taught math courses for Carolina Courses Online for many years, and said he expects to continue.
While he will miss his students in the classroom, he says he will miss his colleagues the most.

“I have worked with some colleagues in a very close way, and I will miss those relationships,” Rowlett said.

Pat Shane

Pat Shane has been a leader in mathematics and science education during her career at the School of Education.

Shane, who served as associate director of the School’s Center for Mathematics and Science Education, has held leadership positions in national associations, received more than $2 million in grant funding, has published widely and been honored with many awards.

Shane joined the School after having worked as a middle school science teacher for 17 years. She has also worked as a middle and junior high school counselor, served as a science, mathematics, English language arts, and reading coordinator for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and has worked as a science consultant to several publishing companies and school systems.

She has worked at CMSE since 1992, focusing on improving K–12 science and mathematics education in North Carolina.

She is concluding her term as president of the National Science Teachers Association, a group with which Shane has been active since 1985.
She has received accolades for her work at NTSA from colleagues at the organization.

“Pat served as the president during an exciting time of transition for both science education and the association,” said Francis Eberle, executive director of the NTSA. “Under Pat’s leadership, NSTA was a key player during the [Obama] Administration’s “Educate to Innovate” STEM initiative, and she led the association through very challenging economic times.”

Shane has also served as president of the National Science Education Leadership Association, the N.C. Science Teachers Association, and the N.C. Science Leadership Association.

She has edited five books on science leadership and issues and authored several articles in science education journals.

Among her awards, she has received the Vi Hunsucker Outstanding Science Educator Award, NSELA’s Presidential Award and National Outstanding Science Supervisor Award, the Herman Gatling Award for Outstanding Science Supervisor, the Science Star Award, and the Distinguished Service in Science Education Award—administrator/supervisor division.

She earned three degrees at Indiana University in Bloomington, Ind., and received her Ph.D. at UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Education in 1987.
Shane said that after 45 years of working, she’s not sure what she’s going to do in retirement.

“But all of my friends who have retired tell me that it’s true you’re so busy that you can’t believe you used to work,” she said. “I am sure I will have lot to do.”

Rhonda Wilkerson

Rhonda Wilkerson joined the School of Education’s faculty after earning her Ph.D. from the School in 1986.

Wilkerson’s work as a clinical associate professor and supervisor of student teachers followed her own 16 years as an elementary school teacher in Wake County. Her teaching was recognized with Wilkerson being named Wake County Teacher of the Year in 1979-80.

At the School of Education, Wilkerson has regularly taught several courses in the Elementary Education program and served as coordinator of the program from 1999 to 2005.

For the past 18 years, she has arrived at Carrboro Elementary School every Tuesday and Thursday of the fall semester to supervise students enrolled in her junior-year Education 412 course.

“Spending time in the classroom with students, children and teachers, and those relationships that have formed has been a joy for me,” Wilkerson said. “I will miss a lot of things, but I will miss that most of all.”

Wilkerson has focused on helping future teachers appreciate the unique learning style of each person – including their own – and on developing the skills they need to be responsive and effective.

“I observed the many different ways children learn when I was a teacher myself,” she said, “and as I began teaching at the School of Education, I continued to see this diversity in adult learners and attempted to address this in my courses.”
A central focus for Wilkerson has been integrating the arts into the elementary school classroom.

She has been a volunteer docent at the North Carolina Museum of Art for 23 years and plans to spend more time in this arena after retirement.

She recently became a member of the Raleigh Fine Arts Society, which supports arts programs in the area’s schools.

“I expect to be a ‘worker bee’ and help them do whatever needs to be done,” she said.

She also plans to enjoy more time with her husband, Joe, their two grown sons, Jay and Bryan, and her grandchildren, George and Henry.


Katherine Kopp (B.A. ’78) contributed to this story