WITN’S Teacher of the Week: Dr. Rita Joyner of Lenoir County Early College High School

Published: Apr. 17, 2019 at 6:46 AM EDT
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WITN's Teacher of the Week for April 17 is Dr. Rita Joyner of Lenoir County Early College High School

Joyner joined the Lenoir County Early College High School staff in September 2014 as a Secondary Mathematics Teacher. In 2018, she represented the Early College as a Lenoir County Public Schools Teacher of the Year nominee.

Prior to returning to the classroom she was Section Chief of the Weatherization Assistance Program in the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. She oversaw a budget of over $140 million, including the unprecedented funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Dr. Joyner managed a team of technical, fiscal and administrative professionals that provided oversight and guidance to community action agencies, non-profit organizations, and local units of government responsible for weatherizing homes across all 100 North Carolina counties. Joyner received a doctorate of philosophy in the Culture, Curriculum, and Change Program in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2009. During her graduate studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, she completed a comprehensive inventory of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) initiatives within the UNC System and across the state.

Joyner was appointed Legislative Liaison to the North Carolina State Board of Education in September 2006, and she was the legislative intern for the State Board of Education during the 2006 Session of the North Carolina General Assembly. Joyner was a research assistant for two years on a National Science Foundation funded project to study students’ development as mathematical learners in reform-oriented classrooms. Dr. Joyner’s dissertation research examined the relationships among the school, community, family, and church in eastern North Carolina during segregation. This qualitative study documents the educational experiences of students at Adkin High School. Her research interests include education policy and administration, STEM education, research-policy relations, and family/community/business partnerships for education. She holds a bachelors and masters degree in mechanical engineering from NC Agricultural & Technical State University and has multiple years of technical and managerial experience in private industry and state government. She received certification in secondary mathematics and has taught on the high school, community college, and university levels.

The student who nominated Joyner wrote: “She always goes above and beyond to help her students. She tutors students before school, during lunch, and even after school. She also motivates her students to speak up in class even if their answer is incorrect. She tells her female students to ‘have confidence, show girl power.’ She wants her female students to not be afraid to do something because it is said that only men are able to do the task. Dr. Rita Joyner not only is an amazing teacher, but her life has an amazing story. She was the host of our first black history program at our school. While growing up. Dr. Rita Joyner had her dream of being a engineer, but many people attempted to get her to have another dream because engineering was said to be for men. She went through college and did get her engineering degree. Many students consider Dr. Joyner as their favorite teacher. I wholeheartedly believe that Dr. Joynerdeserves this award.”

Congratulations, Dr. Joyner!

Every week during the school year WITN will recognize a Teacher of the Week on WITN News at Sunrise. The winner receives a plaque and $100 Walmart gift card. To nominate your teacher, email