Graduate School

Kenneth McKee: ASCD Emerging Leader

Kenneth Mckee3

Hometown: Asheville, NC

Age: 34

Major when you attended ECU: Reading, MAEd

Academic Degrees: MAEd Reading, East Carolina University, 2013; BS English Education, Appalachian State University, 2001

Currently: High School Literacy and Instructional Coach, Buncombe County Schools


A passion for teaching and learning led Kenneth McKee to ECU’s Reading Education program. As a result of his graduate experiences, he has become a voice of educational leadership in his region and state. With his recent recognition as an ASCD Emerging Leader, he has the opportunity to be involved in educational leadership opportunities at an international level with ASCD, a global community dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading. He has learned that to become a leader, one must always be learning.
kenneth mckee 2

How did you choose your area of graduate study?

I chose the MAEd Reading program because I wanted to strengthen my understanding of reading development. Although I knew much about adolescent literacy, I understood that graduate study would enhance my knowledge of the research of fundamental literacy processes in order to better teach striving readers and inform my colleagues’ instructional practices. Many of the students we see in secondary schools still lack early literacy skills to learn in our classrooms. Secondary teachers are experts in the disciplines they teach, but they need a “thinking partner” when it comes to supporting their students’ reading and writing. Having a more in-depth knowledge of the science behind reading has enabled me to integrate effective classroom practices within the contexts of multiple disciplines.

What did you find most challenging/rewarding about your graduate school experience?

My greatest challenge was achieving balance. Working as a full-time educator, spending time with my family and friends, and completing readings and assignments (along with all the other responsibilities in adult life) was complex. I set routine times for working on assignments, which helped quite a bit. The most rewarding part of my graduate experience was the professional relationships I developed during the course of the program. Many of ECU’s professors have become mentors for me, and I continue to learn and grow from my colleagues who were also students in the Reading program.

How do you think your ECU graduate education has helped you, either professionally or personally?

My ECU graduate education has benefitted me both professionally and personally because I have built my capacity as an instructional leader. The skills and knowledge I acquired through my work in the Reading program gave me increased confidence to pursue professional leadership ventures at the local, state, and national level. With the power of social media, I have developed a Professional Learning Network, which includes my ECU professors and classmates as well as educators living and working around the world. Throughout the course of the program and afterwards, I have presented for local organizations and state conferences. I look forward to the potentially pursuing international leadership opportunities through ASCD’s Emerging Leaders program.

What do you like most about being a literacy/instructional coach?

I get to work with the best people in the world -- teachers. I am amazed by the dedication, intelligence, and compassion of my fellow teachers each day. They are truly amazing.

What recognition are you most proud of any why?

I’m proud of any accomplishment because my hope is it recognizes my contribution to the field of education, but I have to say I am extremely excited about being selected as an ASCD Emerging Leader. The program will enable me to learn from all of the amazing educators who are a part of the ASCD Emerging Leader network.

What experiences will you have as an ASCD Emerging Leader?

As an ASCD Emerging Leader, I will become a member of a network of ASCD leaders around the world. This summer I will be attending the ASCD L2L (Leader to Leader) conference in Arlington, VA. The program is designed to be flexible, so Emerging Leaders can pursue activities based upon their interests and the amount of time they can dedicate to the process. Two particularly exciting options include having an ASCD Leadership Coach, who will help me design a leadership plan and work with me to achieve it, and having an opportunity to apply for an exclusive pool of grants to create innovative opportunities for students during the second year of the program.

What would you say to someone considering ECU as a potential graduate school?

Not only would I strongly encourage it, I already have. I have at least three colleagues currently taking coursework at ECU because of my ongoing discussions about my wonderful experiences with the graduate program that the College of Education has to offer. Although I completed my program requirements through online courses, I feel strongly tied to the ECU community. My affection for ECU demonstrates both the instructors’ teaching expertise and their ability to build relationships with students.

Hobbies: Spending Time with my Family, Walking and Running, Watching Movies, Reading, Social Media, Disc Golf, Cooking, Craft Beer

5:45am-7:00am Wake up, get ready, breakfast & coffee, say goodbye to my family
7:00am-8:00am Travel to one of my schools; prepare for the day
8:00am-9:30am Meet with a teacher to plan lessons integrating literacy scaffolding
9:30am-11:00am Analyze data with a team of teachers or administrators in order to determine student strengths/struggles and determine next steps
11:00am-12:00pm Check in with teachers, catch up on emails, facilitate meetings with professional learning groups, or provide enrichment opportunities for students
12:00pm-1:30pm Teach a lesson to students in order to demonstrate or experiment with instructional practices
1:30pm-3:00pm Research and design resources to assist classroom teachers; observe a class and record data for a colleague; planning for upcoming lessons or meetings
3:15pm-4:30pm Work with teacher teams (Literacy Leadership Teams, professional development teams, school committees, PLCs)
4:30pm-5:00pm Pick up my son from childcare; travel home
5:00pm-7:30pm Spend time with my family, family dinner, cooking, etc.
7:30pm-8:00pm Evening walk/run around my neighborhood
8:00pm-10:00pm Research, emails, work preparation, Twitter chats, chores, and watching TV or movies with my wife
10:00pm-11:00pm Reading or listening to podcast before bedtime
kenneth mckee 3

College & Dept.: College of Education; Literacy Studies, English & History Education

Class: 2013

Favorite class: Investigations in Literacy Education

Professor who influenced you the most: Dr. Terry Atkinson

Dream job: Educational Researcher & Author

Your words to live by: "Be a light, not a judge; be a model, not a critic." - Stephen Covey

Significant life lesson you've learned while at ECU: If you work hard, continuously learn, and respect people, amazing opportunities will come to you.