Whiteville – Teachers at Columbus Charter School gathered for a faculty meeting after student dismissal on
October 5, expecting to discuss the difficulties many of them and their students’ families faced in the aftermath
of Hurricane Florence. Instead, they received a very pleasant surprise: refreshments, coffee mugs, can koozies,
and an assortment of gift cards to help them recover in the wake of the storm, all courtesy of WGU North
Carolina, an affiliate of the accredited nonprofit online Western Governors University.
One member of staff had an even greater surprise when she discovered that she was a recipient of the highly
competitive $2,000 “WGU Loves Teachers” scholarship. Jeannene Williams, a second-grade teacher assistant at
CCS, is enrolled in WGU’s Teachers College pursuing her bachelor’s degree in K-12 education, and was
selected for the award based on her academic record, readiness for online study, and for the skill she has already
displayed through her work at CCS.
“It was wonderful to share the experience of receiving this award with my WGU and CCS families,” said
Williams, “Both WGU and CCS staff have been so supportive in my endeavor to pursue a higher education, and
I feel truly blessed to have received financial and emotional support from two incredible organizations!”
“As a representative of WGU, I am passionate about student success,” explained Lynne Barbour, strategic
partnerships manager for WGU North Carolina, who travelled from Raleigh to present the award in person.
“One way I help promote this is by going out into North Carolina communities and awarding scholarships in
person to well-deserving students like Jeannene Williams.”
Barbour had contacted CCS Headmaster Steve Smith about coordinating a time to surprise Ms. Williams with
her scholarship. She subsequently learned of the challenges facing the CCS staff to provide a stable, nurturing
learning environment for their students while simultaneously attempting to rebuild their own lives and their community. Barbour saw the scholarship presentation as an opportunity to help, and brought some fun WGU-
branded items with her to brighten the days of CCS’s teachers, and gave away several $20 gasoline cards, $50 Target cards, and one $100 Lowes Home Improvement gift card that went to a teacher that lost everything in
her home due to flooding.
“It was a wonderful surprise for our staff. We had six teachers displaced by the hurricane, and this really
brought something positive to their day,” Mr. Smith said. “Thank you to Ms. Barbour and WGU for helping us
get back to teaching the best students in Columbus County!”
WGU North Carolina is an online, competency-based university established to expand access to higher
education for North Carolina residents. The university offers more than 60 accredited undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the fields of business, K-12 teacher education, information technology, and health
professions, including nursing.
Columbus Charter School is a high-performing, tuition-free charter school in Whiteville that is one of four
charter schools managed by The Roger Bacon Academy, including Charter Day School in Leland, Douglass
Academy in Wilmington, and South Brunswick Charter in Southport. CCS consistently outscores the
surrounding district schools on End of Grade tests, and exceeded the growth expectations of North Carolina’s
Department of Public Instruction for the 2017-2018 school year. Open Enrollment for 2019-2020 begins
January 1st, and additional information is available by visiting www.enrollRBA.com