Carolina K-12

Committed to supporting our state’s K-12 teachers

The William Friday Teacher Education Initiative

The North Caroliniana Society, due to their commitment to support our state’s K-12 teachers, partnered with Carolina K-12, a program of Carolina Public Humanities at UNC-Chapel Hill, to develop the William Friday Teacher Education Initiative. The goal of the initiative’s programs and offerings are to equally educate, appreciate and affirm North Carolina’s hardworking educators as the impactful and important professionals they are. The Friday Initiative sponsors free, high quality retreats and other professional development programs, as well as supports the development of ready to use curriculum for the K-12 classroom.

The William Friday Teachers Retreat

The William Friday retreats for teachers offer K-12 teachers from all regions of the state an opportunity to spend three dynamic days learning about North Carolina’s captivating history, literature, and culture in an academic and professional retreat atmosphere – where teachers are also celebrated and appreciated for the vital work they do. Each Friday Retreat agenda strategically integrates:

  • Presentations on compelling topics in North Carolina history, literature, culture, music and current events from engaging scholars, authors & performers to deepen participants’ knowledge of our state
  • Interactive explorations of innovative teaching strategies and lesson plans to help teachers translate what they learn to their K-12 students
  • Immersive experiences (tours, museum visits, performances, etc.) that connect program themes with experiential learning
  • Exploration of primary sources and online resources from UNC-Chapel Hill Libraries, such as Wilson Library’s North Carolina Collection
  • Time for discussion and collaboration within a supportive community of teachers, a rarity in the hectic schedules of educators but crucial for forging a network of teacher support around the state
  • Constant affirmation and appreciation for teachers as vital professionals, with supportive understanding of the challenges they face

Between 2016 – 2018, five Friday Retreats were held:

  • The 2016 William Friday Teachers Retreat, July 17-19, 2016
  • The 2017 William Friday Teachers Retreat, July 16-18, 2017, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • The William Friday Teachers Retreat, in Honor of Elizabeth Vann Moore, November 9-11, 2017, Edenton, NC
  • The William Friday Teachers Retreat, in Honor of Wilma Dykeman, July 25 – 27, 2018 Asheville, NC
  • The 2018 William Friday Teachers Retreat, November 11-13, 2018, UNC-Chapel Hill & Hillsborough, NC

These five Retreats have served 161 teachers from 71 of North Carolina’s counties, who will in turn reach 22,540 students all around the state. For information about upcoming Friday Retreats, which are hosted twice each year in various locations across North Carolina, visit Carolina K-12’s Upcoming Trainings page or contact Christie Norris at

Funding from the North Caroliniana Society makes the Friday Teachers Retreats possible by covering preparation of pedagogical materials, compensation for staff time for the development and facilitation of the programs, stipends for speakers (professors, authors, performers, etc.), teacher lodging and transportation costs, food for participants, and other costs that ensure any North Carolina teacher can experience a quality, educational and inspirational experience without having to reach into their own pocket.


“I have never shed so many tears at a professional development due to the sincere affirmations shared at each presentation for the teaching profession. In a time when many educators are feeling devalued, this experience served to elevate teachers’ hearts. We often don’t have the time or resources to attend meaningful, thorough professional development. I am so thankful to have been able to spend three days diving into content with my peers without worrying about the costs. We have gained invaluable resources over the course of this training! Thank you!”   

 –Kim Busch, Elementary School Teacher, Iredell County

Words cannot fully express the gratitude and honor I feel to have been a part of this event. I am in my 4th year of teaching and already there have been many tearful nights and “why did I sign up for this?” moments – but these three days have given me a renewed purpose and drive. Thank you for treating me and my fellow teachers as the professionals we are, but do not get normally treated as. I get paid less than $2,000 a month and between bills and student loans, I am lucky to have $100 left over – to be able to take part in something of this scale is a true gift and I appreciate you all.   Savannah Blystone, 11th & 12th History, Gates County

“This was an event that I am so grateful that I was able to attend. I’ve never been anywhere that has treated me the way we’ve been treated this week. The content that we’ve been exposed to has been so powerful, informative, and usable in my classroom. Thank you so much for the experience!” 

–Greta Thigpen, 4th Grade, Duplin County

“Thank you for this truly exceptional opportunity. I attend a great deal of professional development and I am so impressed, moved and honored by these 3 days. I have never attended any staff development where I was among scholars of this level and award winning, publishing eminence…these 3 days far outshined other PDs. It is immeasurable being among scholars like this. I feel uplifted, validated, worthy, inspired, awestruck, and hopeful. I feel like I matter again.

–Susan Tracy Miller, K-8 Enrichment & AIG Teacher, Chatham County

My students struggle to connect with the facts, dates, locations and information of history. These faces, voices, stories, & perspectives of history all help so much. Middle School is a difficult time and age. The students are trapped in limited thinking based on their own and their parents’ often limited exposure. Encouraging children to think for themselves can meet with resistance from parents. These resources are priceless to combat this.

–Charmaine Gibson, Hoke County, 8th grade LA & SS

We feel deflated and beaten up much of the time. There’s so much love and appreciation here. I will carry this time forward and fondly. 10,000% above and beyond other PD. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. It was all so special and so needed. My hurt heart is healed by being here.

– Teri Couch, High School history, Mecklenburg County

Thank you for the North Caroliniana Society’s recent gift to Carolina K-12 Fund in the Carolina Public Humanities, supporting the 2017 William Friday Teachers Retreats in Chapel Hill and Edenton. Your gift helps us offer seminars to K-12 educators from across North Carolina celebrating the diverse history and heritage of our state, who then take their experiences back home to their students and classrooms. Your generosity helps host these events and assist our participants with travel and hotel expenses. I am excited to see what the future holds because I am certain the best is yet to come.

– Carol L. Folt, Former Chancellor, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill