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Alumna Darlene Ryan wins national award

Durham assistant superintendent recognized for work promoting science instruction

Alumna Darlene Ryan (A.B.Ed. ’78, M.Ed. ’03, Ed.D. ’11), assistant superintendent for elementary schools for Durham Public Schools, has been named the 2021 winner of the Outstanding Administrative Support Award from the National Science Education Leadership Association.

The recognition is given for demonstrated exemplary support for science education at the school, district, higher education, and/or county level. This award honors an administrator whose primary responsibility is outside the area of science instruction.

Ryan has worked as a teacher leader, STEM coach, district-level science/math coordinator, principal, and executive director for curriculum/instruction, being recognized for her leadership in science/STEM education in three North Carolina school districts. She started her career as a classroom teacher in 1978.

Ryan was named the Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools 2014-15 Principal of the Year. In 1996, she was named North Chatham Elementary School Teacher of the Year and three years later she was named North Carolina’s Technology and Learning Teacher of the Year. She also received in 1999 the North Carolina Science Leadership Association’s Herman Gatling Award for Outstanding Science Education Leadership.

The School of Education gave her its Excellence in Teaching Award in 2002.

In her work with Durham elementary school principals, Ryan supports monitoring science data, provides specific recommendations for improvement, and pairs struggling schools with high performing schools, according to the NSELA announcement. Her collaborative teamwork with other district leaders on equity and inclusion is showcased as a model for other U.S. districts, NSELA said.

Ryan will receive a $1,000 award and be recognized at the NSELA Leadership Summit in May and its Summer Leadership Institute in July.

Read more about Ryan and her award here.

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By Michael Hobbs