Liz Schlemmer

Education Policy Reporter

Liz Schlemmer is WUNC's Education Policy Reporter, a fellowship position supported by the A.J. Fletcher Foundation. She has an M.A. from the UNC Chapel Hill School of Media & Journalism and a B.A. in history and anthropology from Indiana University.

She has previously served as a temporary Morning Edition producer and intern at WUNC and as a news intern at St. Louis Public Radio. Liz is originally from Indiana, where she grew up with a large extended family of educators.
 

Islands Fresh Mex Grill in Wilmington hosted a fundraiser for Trask Middle School's PTA, which has been giving aid to families and teachers affected by Hurricane Florence. Staff and families at the event, just a week into school, already had the threat of
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

New Hanover County Schools are just getting back to class, meanwhile the threat of Hurricane Michael has many feeling nervous.

Trask Middle School staff and their families gathered at Islands Fresh Mex Grill in Wilmington for an evening fundraiser this week. Proceeds from the burritos and taco salads sold will go to the school's Parent/Teachers’ Association.

Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment is located in the former Environment Hall, which will be renamed Grainger Hall in November 2018 in acknowledgement of a $20 million gift from the Grainger Family Descendants Fund.
Courtesy of Duke University

Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment has received a $20 million gift from the Grainger Family Descendants Fund at The Chicago Community Trust. The grant was recommended by an adviser to the fund who graduated from Duke University in 1979. It is one of the largest gifts ever received by the Nicholas School, or by any school of the environment, according to Duke University communications staff.

"These kinds of gifts don't come along all that often," said Toddi Steelman, the school's dean.

Jose Perez-Santiago, right, holds his daughter Jordalis, 2, as they return to their home for the first time since it was flooded in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in Spring Lake, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. "I didn't realize we would lose everyt
David Goldman / AP

Since the day Hurricane Florence began battering the North Carolina coast, WUNC’s education reporters have been following staff and families in New Hanover County Schools, as they first weathered the storm, and now work to put their classrooms and schools back together.

State education leaders are calling for donations to assist students and educators who lost belongings and school supplies during Hurricane Florence.

Principal Maggie Rollison of Trask Middle School in Wilmington, N.C. fights back tears while recalling her experience as a "shelter principal" during Hurricane Florence
Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Since the day Hurricane Florence began battering the North Carolina coast, WUNC’s education reporters have been following staff and families in New Hanover County Schools, as they first weathered the storm, and now work to put their classrooms and schools back together.

When storms roll into Wilmington, Trask Middle School usually serves as an emergency shelter. But the school’s principal Maggie Rollison knew Florence was different when shelter guests started arriving 10 hours before the shelter opened.

State education officials are still tallyint up the damage to schools. This photo shows flooding at Trask Middle School in New Hanover County.
Courtesy of Trask Middle School Principal Dr. Maggie Rollison

State education officials are still tallying up the damage to schools, but this week, the latest estimate had risen to $40 million in losses.

"That is a big number and a lot of claims, and it's very difficult to say where that number will end up,” said Chief Officer of the North Carolina Public School Insurance Fund Eileen Townsend in her report to the State Board of Education.

NC Legislature
W Edward Callis III

State lawmakers have passed a bill to address all the days some schools have missed in the wake of Hurricane Florence.

Scotland High School in Laurinburg, North Carolina flooded as rivers rose from Hurricane Florence's massive rainfall. A tributary to the Leith Creek runs across the school's property.
Courtesy of Scotland County Schools

State lawmakers say they are drafting a bill to help schools deal with all the missed days they are having due to Hurricane Florence. Some schools in the southeast part of the state plan to miss two weeks or more as they clean and repair buildings and grounds damaged by the storm and flooding.

Floodwaters from Hurricane Florence top a section of U.S. 421 near the Pender-New Hanover County line north of Wilmington.
NC Department of Transportation

State transportation officials are warning hurricane evacuees from Wilmington not to go back home this weekend. They say residents shouldn’t let the good weather fool them into thinking it is safe to return.

Scotland High School in Laurinburg, North Carolina flooded as rivers rose from Hurricane Florence's massive rainfall. A tributary to the Leith Creek runs across the school's property.
Courtesy of Scotland County Schools

Schools across the southeastern part of the state remained closed this week as administrators begin to assess the damage from Hurricane Florence.

Crews with the NYC Emergency Management perform water rescues in River Bend, N.C., after Hurricane Florence on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018.
Courtesy of NYC Emergency Management

Updated at 4:45 p.m.

Florence has been downgraded to a tropical storm, but surges and flooding are expected to continue as it lashes South Carolina, according to the National Weather Service.

Sand bags surround homes on North Topsail Beach, N.C., Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018, as Hurricane Florence threatens the coast.
Chuck Burton / AP

Updated 5 p.m. | Sept. 13, 2018

Hurricane Florence's leading edge battered the Carolina coast Thursday, bending trees and shooting frothy sea water over streets on the Outer Banks, as the hulking storm closed in with 105 mph (165 kph) winds for a drenching siege that could last all weekend.

A picture of a patient and a doctor meeting over a web connection.
Cisco Systems

Dealing with a sick child or a minor ailment can be especially tough while waiting out a storm. UNC Healthcare has a solution for anyone in North Carolina who needs to consult a doctor for minor issues as Hurricane Florence hits the state.

Nchole Yeo / Flickr

During Wednesday's State Board of Education work session, state education officials released the latest school accountability reports for the 2017-2018 school year. The executive summary covers statistics on end-of-grade exams, graduation rates and the growth and performance grades for schools, as based on their students' end-of-year standardized tests.

Students Kamora Foxworth, left, and Odyessi McDougald, center, smile while they eat lunch at Southside-Ashpole Elementary on the first week of school as the elementary becomes the first in the state's Innovative School District.
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

North Carolina has a new, experimental school district opening up this year, and classes started last week at its first and only school.

Colavito Tyson is a teacher assistant at Nash-Rocky Mount Schools. She came to the May #Red4Ed march in Raleigh carrying this sign that she says she's had for years, from another educators' march calling for more school funding years ago.
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

North Carolina educators have marched in Raleigh repeatedly over the years - and most recently in May - to call for better funding for public schools. While the spotlight is often on teacher pay, the full picture is a lot more complicated.

Veteran school finance officer Jennifer Bennett of Vance County Schools says she struggles to find ways to pay for technology, after-school programs and field trips to expose her small-town students to experiences that will prepare them for future jobs.
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

Educators across the state often complain of tight public school budgets that leave something to be desired. Two school finance officers explain what they want most: more flexibility and more funding.

Silent Sam
Laura Pellicer / WUNC

Police arrested seven people on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill Saturday, as counter-protestors clashed with men carrying Confederate battle flags and other signs. This came five days after the Silent Sam statue was brought down on campus.

File photo of a faucet.
Henry M. Diaz / Flickr, Creative Commons, https://flic.kr/p/4HJKuS

Guilford County Schools is working to protect its students' drinking water after the county identified three school faucets with elevated lead content.

Laura Garduño Garcia and Milton Marin wait with students who are taking their concerns to the county commissioners.
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

It’s a Sunday afternoon at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Burlington, and schoolchildren and their families gather in a church meeting room to craft hand-made greeting cards. Little girls in their Sunday dresses, dark hair pulled back in ribbons, write messages in crayon on red paper. Organizer Laura Garduño Garcia looks over a stack of finished cards written to the Alamance County commissioners.

Sculpture of the Wright Brothers first flight at the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills
Courtesy of the National Park Service

Students across North Carolina learn that the Wright Brothers took their first flight in Kitty Hawk, but park rangers at the Wright Brothers National Memorial want teachers to draw on that story beyond 4th and 8th grade state history classes.

Photo of a ball and chain with "student loans" written on it
thisisbossi / Flickr

Student loan debt is on the rise nationally and in North Carolina, but recent graduates are faring better here than in other states.

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey (center-right) listens while State Superintendent Mark Johnson gives his monthly address to the board.
Jess Clark / WUNC

The chairman of the State Board of Education is leaving his post. Bill Cobey submitted his resignation to the Department of Public Instruction this afternoon.

Students in the Medical Education Development (MED) Program (left to right) Jazmine Walker, Miguel Vasquez, Gloribel Vanegas, and Joshua Walker prepare to dissect a cadaver at UNC Chapel Hill on July 5, 2018.
Madeline Gray / For WUNC

Jazmine Walker unzips a blue body bag. A gaggle of students in scrubs and surgical masks surround her. Teams of five crowd around cadavers around the room, about to begin their first dissection of a human body. But these are not medical students − not yet anyway.

Students use laptops at Siler City Elementary in Chatham County.
Chatham County Schools

The North Carolina School Boards Association has taken a new step in a long-held legal battle over public school funding. The association filed a complaint Wednesday demanding state agencies pay hundreds of millions of dollars to fund technology in schools.

A Wake County Public Schools bus.
Brian Batista / For WUNC

Wake County Commissioners agreed unanimously Monday night to give preliminary approval to three bond questions that could go on that county's November election ballots. A proposed $548 million public school bond would fund planned school construction and renovation in the rapidly growing county.

The Henderson House, where Compass Center offices are located.
Courtesy of Compass Center

A Chapel Hill-based nonprofit that serves victims of domestic violence and their families is planning to expand its services next year to enable survivors to get back on their feet.

UNC System President Margaret Spellings in her office
Liz Schlemmer / WUNC

A new report from The Chronicle of Higher Education ranks the country’s highest-paid university officials. A number in North Carolina fell in the top hundred – but officials from most of the state’s historically black colleges and universities were not to be found in their ranks.

Bruce Major, left, met with community leaders in Robeson County Thursday. He will serve as the head administrator of Southside-Ashpole Elementary in Robeson County, as part of the state's new Innovative School District.
Courtesy of the Innovative School District

North Carolina's experimental Innovative School District will open soon and now has a director for its first school. Community leaders in Lumberton gathered Thursday to meet Southside-Ashpole Elementary's new director Bruce Major. The public school will re-open in August under its new management.

University police stand watch inside a barricade around the Silent Sam Statue at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill protestors for and against the statue’s removal attended rallies near the statue on Tuesday, August 22, 2017.
Matt Couch / WUNC

The University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past year to provide security around its contentious Confederate monument. UNC police estimate that between July 2017 and July 2018, the campus has spent $393,000 dollars on security around Silent Sam.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools

North Carolina has a new law to give a school district more flexibility if it has a lot of struggling schools - and the law applies only to Rowan-Salisbury Schools.

Pages