Sarena Fuller Receives North Carolina Outstanding Administrator Award

Sarena Fuller is the curriculum and instruction coordinator at the NC School for the Deaf in Morganton, NC. Situated in Burke County, the school is a residential and day program for deaf and hard of hearing students in the western most 47 counties of North Carolina.

“For deaf students they may be the only deaf child they know,” said Fuller. “So when they come to the NC School for the Deaf they realize that there’s a world of students that communicate the same way they do. And they get to find their special power, their special strength.”

Research has shown that deaf students think differently than hearing students, according to Jana Lollis, a science teacher at the school. It is important to realize that their first language is a visual language. Secondly, 90 percent of deaf students have hearing parents, which means that maybe growing up until age 5 or 6, they may not have been getting access to that language.

“When we look at STEM as a visual kinesthetic way of getting kids involved in their education, we are also looking at that as a way to build their language,” said Fuller. “Rather than sitting students down where they’re one on one, we have them involved in robotics to develop problem solving, critical thinking and teamwork skills all while building in not only social language but academic language. It didn’t take long before we saw results. And not only academic achievement paper test score results, we saw the kids had reached a new level of engagement, were excited, couldn’t wait to do more.”

Sarena Fuller has been named the 2018 Outstanding Administrator in STEM by the NC Science, Mathematics, and Technology Education Center for her commitment to STEM education. She will be recognized by the SMT Center on April 28, 2018 in Raleigh, NC.

“Having a team is like having a family. It’s crazy, but then you work together, make things happen, and I enjoy being part of that and building, doing the measuring, engineering of it.,” said Fuller. “Once it all comes together and the different systems, I feel like “Wow, this is really cool.” I never really experienced technology or all of those other things, especially robotics. It’s so much fun.”