Middle East and African Cultures Teacher Fellows Program

The Middle East and African Cultures Teacher Fellows Program is a funded, eight-month intensive fellowship for teachers to explore Middle Eastern and African history, cultures, and diaspora through structured experiential learning experiences across North Carolina. Running March to December 2020, this program aims to enhance teacher expertise in Middle Eastern and African studies in part by making relevant connections to local communities.

Eight-month Teacher Fellows Program

The Middle East and African Cultures Teacher Fellows Program consists of:

Participants will attend a two-day orientation workshop, Friday, March 20 – Saturday, March 21, 2020 at UNC-Chapel Hill to introduce major themes of the fellowship including:

  • defining the Middle East and Africa
  • social movements and human rights issues in the regions
  • the role of women and gender in society
  • the diversity of cultures of these regions
  • resources and strategies for teaching about these regions

Fellows will attend four experiential learning field visits across North Carolina to explore the Middle East and Africa. Please consider your availability to attend these programs prior to applying to the fellowship. The program will include visits to:
  • Masjid Omar ibn Sayyid (Fayetteville), Friday, April 3, 2020
  • North Carolina African Services Coalition (refugee resettlement in Greensboro), Friday, May 22, 2020
  • Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies (Raleigh), Friday, September 18, 2020
  • Immigrant Kitchen experience (Durham/Raleigh), Friday, October TBD, 2020

  • Fellows are invited to attend one elective event that fits their own interests on the Middle East and/or Africa. The elective event can be a lecture, conference, workshop, cultural program, or other. Events may be in-person or virtual (i.e. webinar) and must be pre-approved. Suggested events will be provided by the African Studies Center and the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies.

    At the culmination of the program, teachers will develop a reflection project (lesson plan, annotated bibliography, video about content learned, etc.) and present their work at a culminating workshop in December 2020.

    Fellows will Receive:

    • Intensive and ongoing professional development throughout the year-long program
    • Access to scholars and community experts specializing in the Middle East and Africa, culturally competent pedagogy, and related topics
    • Free meals at each session, at the orientation, and culminating workshop
    • Up to 5.0 CEUs (upon completion of all program requirements)
    • A $300 stipend (upon completion of all program requirements)
    • Travel reimbursement of up to $200 (depending upon your distance from the site visits)
    • Substitute reimbursement (if your school can not cover the cost of a substitute for Friday workshops, fellows may request a substitute scholarship)

    Congratulations to our 2020 MEAC Fellows!

    My name is Kelsey Agar, and I’m a resident of Mooresville, North Carolina. I have been an educator for six years, teaching World Literature at Mooresville High School. I love literature and world travel and am passionate about bringing authentic global learning experiences to my students. I am looking forward to the knowledge that this experience will bring my students and our district here in Mooresville.

    Amy Barsanti has been teaching for 33 years, the last 24 in North Carolina, and she currently teaches 3rd grade Language Arts and Social Studies at Jamesville Elementary School. She has a BA in Communication Arts and Theater, an MS in Elementary Education, and an MEd in Science Education with STEM concentration, which began with a NASA Endeavor STEM Education Teacher Certification Fellowship. Her certifications include National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and North Carolina Elementary K-6 and AIG. Barsanti is published in many periodicals, including The Mailbox, Parents Magazine, and Teacher’s Helper.

    I graduated from East Carolina University as an NC Teaching Fellow in 2009 and have been teaching for a decade now. I am the Social Studies Department Chair, and a member of several committees at Southside High School, including the Scholarship Committee, School Leadership Team, Black History Month Committee, and Attendance Committee. I strive to make history interesting for students, using projects, technology in the classroom, and field trips when able. My husband works for the Department of Environment and Natural Sciences, and I have two kids – Benjamin and Maxwell – and I emphasize history and multiculturalism to them at home regularly.

    Kimberly Jones is an English teacher, in her 14th year, at Chapel Hill High School. She also spent 10+ years as an instructor/coordinator with the NC Governor’s School program. Kimberly has spent her career continuing her education and developing her profession in numerous ways from National Board Certification to Holocaust educator certifications and racial equity and inclusion learning. Kimberly received her undergraduate and master’s degrees from Wake Forest University.

    I earned my Bachelor of Science in Art Education from Long Island University, Southampton and have been teaching Visual Arts at Central Cabarrus High school for thirteen years. I am a National Board Certified Teacher and I’m passionate about helping others to develop their creativity and love for art. My specialization is ceramics, though I enjoy exploring all forms of Visual Art.

    My name is Shelby Lewis, a public high school teacher from Asheville, North Carolina. I am now a proud auntie of two beautiful nieces. I enjoy the summers on my porch swing sipping lemonade and antiquing.

    Ashley Melendrez is a Family and Consumer Sciences educator in her ninth year at Midway High School, in Sampson County North Carolina. There she teaches Culinary Nutrition with an emphasis on global cuisines and cultures. Ashley looks forward to fully immersing herself in the Middle East & African Cultures Teacher Fellow Program. She plans to return and serve as a vessel of knowledge, understanding, and acceptance of the Middle Eastern and African cultures. She is a student advocate in all respects and is most excited about being able to advocate with more appreciation and understanding after this program. She is also very thankful to join an amazing cohort of educators and is excited to form connections.

    My name is Holly Moran-Bates, and I currently work as an English Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at Davis Drive Middle School in Cary, NC. I received my undergraduate degrees in Anthropology and Creative Writing at the University of Arizona and received my Masters in English from Boston College. I am certified K-6, ELA 6-9, and Social Studies 6-9, and I have been teaching for 10 years. I am passionate about middle level education and equity in the classroom. I am married with four amazing children, and I enjoy biking, reading, traveling, and baking.

    Alicia Morris is a Social Studies teacher and serves as the 7th grade team leader at Cary Academy. She has 12 years of experience teaching world history and received her master’s in teaching in Secondary Social Studies Education from the University of Virginia. Alicia is passionate about middle level education and teaching about great African civilizations prior to colonization.

    Matt Murchison is currently an English and AVID teacher at Carrboro High School. He has a B.S. in English Education from the University of South Florida and an M.Ed. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is currently in his 7th year as a teacher in North Carolina public schools.

    Tonya teaches Spanish and African Studies at the NC School of Science and Mathematics. She was selected by her peers as the K-12 representative for UNC World View’s 2019 Global Education Leaders’ Program. She has traveled in Europe, Latin America, and Africa. She loves sharing her enthusiasm for the language and cultures of the Spanish-speaking world with her students. Tonya also enjoys leading educational trips abroad so that students can use their newly-acquired language skills in the real world, as well as experience first-hand the transformative power of travel. She is fascinated by Atlantic World history; in particular, connections between Africa, Latin America, and Iberian Europe. Recently, she has become increasingly interested in the cultures and histories of North Africa and the Middle East, and their connections to Iberian Europe and the Americas. She also enjoys visual culture, the arts, world music, and pursuing language study in Brazilian Portuguese. She’d love to learn French and Arabic one day, too. Fortunately, she’s been able to combine these various passions and pursuits into a rewarding teaching career, as well as share her intellectual interests with creative and inquisitive students.

    Tamika Spruill is an educational professional who currently teaches English Language Arts at the middle school level. She has also taught Special Education. She believes young minds need to be exposed to the big, diverse world that exists outside of their door. Tamika enjoys reading, discovering new things to watch on Netflix and spending time with family. She holds a B.A. in English and a MAEd. in Cross Categorical Special Education.

    Debra Coram Troxell is a National Board Certified AP Human Geography and World History teacher at West Forsyth High School. She received her Master’s Degree from UNC-Greensboro and a Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Technology from NC State University. Debra provides support to National Board candidates and serves on the Board of Directors of the National Council for Geographic Education. She lives in Winston-Salem with her husband and twin, college-age daughters.

    I am a High School History Teacher in Greensboro, NC.  I have been an educator for over 14 years and I am a firm believer in the Spence Rogers Motto, “Kids are Worth What Ever it takes.”  In my spare time I enjoy reading, and antiquing.  I am looking forward to meeting each of you, and learning a lot to bring back to the teachers and students of Guilford County.

    Fifteen years ago, I embarked on a professional journey to not only teach but also provide a classroom environment that is conducive to good character development. Throughout these years, I spent an extensive amount of time being a student as much as I was a teacher. When I am not teaching, I am usually pursuing a course of study, writing poems or watching a compelling series on Netflix. Having completed a Masters in Educational Administration, I hope to become a school administrator. Until then, I will continue to embrace the opportunities that offer professional growth and development.

    Eligibility & Application

    This program is open to all currently practicing K-12 educators and curriculum coordinators in North Carolina who will be teaching in the next consecutive school year.  Applicants must be able to attend March and December workshops, as well as travel to at least 3 out of 4 offered sessions throughout NC. Sessions will fall on weekdays and weekends, and Fellows will complete pre-reading assignments before each session.


    If you have questions regarding the program or application process, contact Emma Harver, Program/Outreach Coordinator, Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies at 919-962-6732, harver@email.unc.edu.

    The Middle East and African Cultures Teacher Fellows Program is a collaboration of the
    UNC African Studies Center and the Duke-UNC Consortium for Middle East Studies. This program is generously funded by the UNC College of Arts & Sciences, the Chancellor’s Education Fund, and Title VI funding from the U.S. Department of Education.