Powerful Perspectives on the NC KEA

Voices from the Field Support Student Success

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We Want to Know What People Saying about the KEA

A variety of participants from across the state, who have been "boots on the ground" throughout the implementation of the Kindergarten Entry Assessment Process, are here today to share their perspectives. Each panelist serves a different role in the educational field and their testimonies on this process provide a "real" insight into to seeing how the KEA is impacting learning far beyond the classroom doors. in this session, you will have an opportunity to hear from each of them and get a deeper understanding of how the Kindergarten Entry Assessment considers the whole child using the five developmental domains as a means for better understanding students' learning needs. Each of the panelist will be asked by our moderator to describe the formative assessment experience from his or her perspective using specific examples. We are so excited to have such a diverse group of educators taking the time out of their busy schedules to be here today with us as we pick their brains. Please take a moment to get to know our phenomenal panelists better by reading their bio's below,

Nicole Pait, Early Learning Interventionist

Nicole is celebrating her 20th year as an educator. She has taught kindergarten through fourth grade, as well as Reading Recovery. Nicole also served as a district literacy lead teacher and is currently an interventionist and K-2 instructional coach at East Rockingham Elementary in Rockingham, North Carolina. Nicole wholeheartedly believes in doing what is best for all children and has a special love and interest in the learning and development of young students.

Nicole lives in Hamlet, North Carolina. She and her husband, Allen, have been married for 21 years and have two sons. Nicole earned her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a master’s degree in Reading Education from UNCP.

Rebecca Merriman, Kindergarten Teacher

Rebecca is a kindergarten teacher at Jackson Park Elementary School in Kannapolis, North Carolina. She has more than ten years of experience in elementary education and has participated in many professional development opportunities. She is a member of the North Carolina Reading Association, National Center of Family Literacy, Gamma Pi and the Professional Educators of North Carolina. Rebecca was also named the 2013-2014 Teacher of the Year for Jackson Park Elementary and Kannapolis City Schools.

Rebecca received a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from St. Andrews Presbyterian College. After graduating, she spent six years with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools primarily at the kindergarten level. After marriage, she relocated to Concord, North Carolina and began teaching at Jackson Park Elementary. She hopes someday soon to begin her pursuit of a master’s degree in administration.

Her desire to be a leader was noted by District Stakeholders and she was selected to represent the voice of kindergarten teachers throughout Kannapolis City Schools. She has served as an active member of Kannapolis City Schools District Implementation Team for the North Carolina K-3 Formative Assessment Process. She is also the on-site KEA liaison for her Kindergarten Team. She is an advocate for the Power of Kindergarten and recognizes the importance of teaching “the whole child.”

Rebecca lives with her husband, Tad; in Concord, North Carolina along with their mischievous cat. Rebecca loves to read, shop, and spend time with her friends and family.

Josh Sain, Curriculum Coordinator/Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) Coordinator

Josh taught special education at the middle and high school level before taking his current role as the Curriculum Coordinator of Shady Brook Elementary School in Kannapolis, NC. Additionally, Josh serves as the Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) Coordinator for Kannapolis City Schools.

In his current position, Josh coaches and provides staff with professional development regarding literacy and math curriculum/instruction. He also oversees school wide data and collaborative planning meetings to ensure instruction is differentiated and meeting the specific needs of students. As the MTSS coordinator, Josh ensures all KCS schools have the professional development and resources needed to successfully implement academic support for all grades. He works closely with the district’s PBIS coordinator to ensure behaviors are addressed accurately and efficiently throughout the MTSS process. Josh’s passion is to ensure the needs of the whole child are being met on a daily basis and this passion correlates with the vision of the K-3 Formative Assessment Process. As a result, Josh was asked to serve on the Kannapolis City School District Implementation Team for Kannapolis and is the KEA liaison for Shady Brook.

Josh lives with his family in Charlotte, NC. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Secondary Education from Appalachian State University and his Master’s Degree in School Administration from Gardner-Webb University.

Tara Roy, Director of K-2 and ESL Instruction for Harnett County Schools

Tara Roy serves as the PreK -2 and ESL Director for Harnett County Schools. In her almost twenty years in education, she has experience as a teacher, literacy coach and NCDPI consultant before assuming her current role in Harnett County in 2010.

Tara is passionate about early education, specifically, early literacy. She is also a vital member of her District Implementation Team and has partnered with NCDPI as part of a usability study for the broader NC K-3 Formative Assessment Process.

Steve Oates, Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education

Steve Oates has been the Assistant Superintendent of Elementary Education for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools since 2011.

Oates is a longtime educator with years of experience as an administrator, as an elementary school principal and as a teacher.

From 2007 to 2011, he was the Executive Director of the Southeastern Region of Guilford County Schools. As executive director, Oates was responsible for evaluating principals and overseeing their work in 17 elementary schools, four middle schools, three high schools, one middle college and one alternative school. Oates also worked with Guilford County elementary school principals as an instructional improvement officer.

Before that, Oates spent 13 years as an elementary school principal, primarily in the Wake County Public School System. He also spent two years as principal of a charter school in Boone and one year as an assistant principal. Prior to his principal-ship he taught elementary school for an incredible 16 years.

Oates earned a bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University and a master’s degree in Educational Administration from North Carolina Central University.

Ever since he volunteered at a YMCA as a teenager, he knew that he wanted to work with younger children and to help them learn.

Oates, 61, believes in the importance of play and of relationships built on trust and mutual respect, listening to complaints, asking questions, trusting colleagues, showing up in classrooms, and approaching angry little boys gently. He has tapped into all those principles as he has led the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools initiative to bring play back to kindergarten classrooms.

Steve Lear, Early Learning Challenge Consultant – Office of Early Learning

Steve is a man of many talents and has served over 30 years in the educational field in the following capacities, Independent Educational Consultant, District Director of Testing and Accountability, District Supervisor of Student Support Personnel, District Secondary Improvement Officer, School Counselor (High, Middle, Elementary), and Social Studies Teacher (High, Middle).

Steve support's North Carolina’s Local Education Agencies and Charter Schools by providing consultative services regarding all aspects of North Carolina’s response to legislation passed by the NC General Assembly, and in helping meet the requirements of the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant.

Steve's areas of expertise include data analysis and program evaluation, instructional supervision and support, problem solving and process implementation, mediation and conflict resolution, systems improvement and educational coaching and training.

In addition to his passion for education he exudes a positive energy that is uplifting and inviting, which makes him the perfect mediator for our panelist discussion!

Want to Know More

A variety of links have been listed below for you to view at your convenience. Each site specifically supports the NC K-3 Formative Assessment Process, by providing you with a multitude of fantastic resources and information.

Office of Early Learning Website:


NC K-3 Formative Assessment Wiki:


NC K-3 Formative Assessment DIT LiveBinder:


NC K-3 Formative Assessment Educator LiveBinder: