About Us

Board of Directors

 

Eric Brownlee

Board Chairs – Owner of HomeMasters Pest Control

I’m originally from TN, but lived all over the Southeast, as a 38 year food service professional. I moved to NC in 2002 to work for Golden Corral, franchising my first location, here in Smithfield in 2008.  We subsequently owned and operated a total of 3 restaurants, until 2019.  My wife, Michele and I started a disaster recovery business in 2009, as well.  In 2019, we became partners in HomeMasters Pest Control.  And in August of 2021, we started our newest venture, Triangle Connect, Community App.  We love living and working in Johnston County, and having had 5 children, we understand the importance of supporting the school system, teachers, and education in general.   

 

Blaire Whitehurst Narron

I am originally from Smithfield but now live in Clayton.  I am currently the Sr. Manager Performance Development at Grifols. I am excited to be a new member of the JCEF Board.  I joined the Board to become more involved in the Johnston County Public School system and to ensure Johnston County Education Foundation has the support from industry partners. My two favorite holidays are Christmas and Halloween.  At Christmas my family would ride through neighborhoods admiring all the decorations and lights.  A Halloween tradition when my children were younger was to cook meals with a Halloween theme each night and visit The Fear Farm at least once in October.

 

Jenna Payton

I am a Talent Acquisition Manager for Caterpillar, Inc. In my role, I am honored to lead a team that supports all recruiting activity for the Construction Industries segment of Caterpillar within the United States and United Kingdom regions. I work with Caterpillar leaders to build and execute talent acquisition strategies to meet the needs of our growing business.

In my free time, I enjoy trips to the beach with my family and watching my children in their sporting events. Supporting them and seeing them thrive is truly what makes me the happiest!

 

Stephanie Norris

I live in Smithfield, and I am an attorney at Narron Wenzel, PA, in Smithfield. I provide estate planning and estate and trust administration services for clients as well as support corporate transactions and succession planning. I grew up in Archer Lodge and attended Johnston County Schools before going to UNC Chapel Hill for my undergraduate degree in Business Administration and later attending Georgetown University Law Center for my law degree. In my business career, I was blessed with the opportunity to travel dozens of countries and throughout the United States, and while I enjoyed travelling immensely, I am so happy to be back home in Johnston County! I joined the Board of the Johnston County Education Foundation in 2021 to support the students and teachers!

 

Doug Cockrell

I am from Kenly and am a credit analyst for KS Bank. I am scholarship chair on the foundation board. I got involved on the board because my wife and several family members are/were long time educators, mostly in The Johnston County School System, so I was aware of what the Education Foundation was doing. One day I was having lunch with a board member and discussing some things the foundation had going on. When I got ready to leave I said, “If I can help in any way let me know.” Two months later I was on the board. That was in 2015, I think. My favorite holiday tradition is having my brothers and all our family over and spending time with them.

Anita Tart

I’m from Benson and graduated from South Johnston High School, as did three of our children. We have a grandchild attending South Johnston now. My husband and I own Ken Tart Photography, where I’m the office manager. We have been in business for the past 38 years.

I started on the board in 2010. The reason I became a member of JCEF was to help out schools to become better and to benefit teachers and the students to help them excel in teaching and learning using the money raised by the organization. I love Christmas, so my favorite family tradition is to get together with family and friends to eat, reminisce about the past and celebrate the birth of Jesus throughout the season and especially on Christmas Eve. Also, I enjoy traveling with my family and am a member of Benson Baptist Church, where I have served on various committees including the building committee that planned the building of a new fellowship hall and expansion of the church.

I graduated from Hardbarger Business School with an associate’s degree in fashion merchandising. I’ve volunteered at Benson Elementary and Benson Middle schools for the last 24 years as a mentor and reading with those students that need extra attention. I have also been a part of the Buddy Program at Benson Elementary for the past 20 years.

 

Amy Taylor

I have worked in the pharmaceutical industry for more than 25 years, with 20 of those being in a leadership role.

I have worked at Novo Nordisk for the past 18 years, supporting quality assurance and quality control teams in the U.S. and Denmark. I have been a member of Novo Nordisk leadership teams for more than nine years and enjoy involvement in driving the culture and developing the strategic direction for the sites.

In my free time, I enjoy traveling with my family, spending time with my daughter Lexi, 14, and son Ethan, 19. While at home, I work on renovating my home with my husband, Craig, and spoiling my labradoodle, Brady.

Heather Moser

Heather Moser is a resident of Clayton, NC where she has lived for 19 years. She is  married to her husband, Marty, and has 3 children. As a stay at home mom, she has  been active in the community serving on the Johnston County Habitat for Humanity  Board as the Director of Family Relations, Clayton Historical Association as well as PTA  President and Treasurer at Cooper Academy 6 of the past 7 years. During that time  serving on the PTA board, Heather has worked closely with members of the community  including Flour Construction, Novo Nordisk, Riverwild, the Town of Clayton and other  Downtown Clayton businesses. For the past two years, Heather has led the Why  Mentoring program at Copper that coordinates students from Clayton High School to  mentor fourth and fifth graders at Cooper Academy. Additionally, she served as the  school liaison when raising money for a new STEAM playground and served on several  committees with NC Restart at Cooper Academy. Heather has a passion for helping find  financial assistance for Cooper families in times of need. In addition to staying busy with  volunteering in the community, she also enjoys gardening, raising her chickens, and  spending time with family. Heather rarely meets a stranger and believes that these  assets and experiences would make her a great addition to the Johnston County Ed  Foundation Board.

Dr. Nicholas King
Chief Academic Officer
Johnston County Public Schools Superintendent representative

Terri Sessoms
Johnston County Board of Education representative

Jason Gipe
Mount Olive College

Loretta Byrd
Board Treasurer
Benson Chamber

Dana Wooten
Clayton Chamber

Landis Bullock
Bullock Brother

Johnston County Education Foundation Staff

 

Johnston County Education Foundation Staff

Darla Peedin, Executive Director

Darla Peedin is the Executive Director for the Johnston County Education Foundation. Darla has lived and worked in Johnston County all her life. She has taught school for Johnston County Public Schools for 30 years, which impacts her desires to support and cultivate the connection and growth between the Foundation and Johnston County Schools. She holds a BS degree from Atlantic Christian College, a MM from East Carolina University and was a National Certified Teacher.  Through her experiences, she is excited about working with the Foundation to cultivate the awareness within the county and support students and teachers in her community. Darla likes to walk and play the piano when she is not working. 

Johnston County Education Foundation Staff

Hannah HIll, Intern for 2021

Hannah Hill is the Marketing & Public Relations intern for the Ed Foundation. I attended Johnston County Public Schools from kindergarten through graduation. She is passionate about serving the community she calls home and is excited to help the Ed Foundation share its incredible mission through social media. When she isn’t working, you can find her exploring local coffee shops in search of the perfect oat milk latte, reading a good book, or running.

Info

Please reach out to use at our contact email if you are
interested in serving on our board. 

info@jced.foundation

History

 

  • On Dec. 12, 1989, Dr. Dicky Parrish, chairman of the Johnston County Board of Education, appointed board of education member Glenda Hales and Eaton Corporation plant manager Robert Busby to begin exploring the establishment of an education foundation.
  • In 1990, two fundamental events led to the grassroots formation of The Johnston County Education Foundation. Board of Education Chairman Dicky Parrish directed that Superintendent Dr. Jim Ellerbee looked into the formation of a local education fund. Busby was asked to begin the local effort. Concurrently, Harold Keen met with the leadership of Wake Education Partnership, researching what it would take for Johnston County to have the benefit of a local education fund. The two leaders established a task force to begin working on an education foundation as a county-wide effort. Business and community leaders worked towards making teachers feel good about their profession and providing mini-grants for classroom projects. Articles of Incorporation were filed and 501(c)3 tax status was granted by the IRS. A formal presentation was made to the Johnston County Board of Education, followed by a public announcement of the foundation. President Busby and President-Elect Keen gave credibility to the group and led the first fund-raising efforts.
  • In 1991, the first grants were awarded. Superintendent Dr. G. Thomas Houlihan was hired by the Johnston County Board of Education. The board accepted administration of the Guy C. Lee Scholarship at Smithfield-Selma High School.
  • In 1992, teacher grants continued. Project L3, or Life Long Learning, was introduced by the Johnston County Board of Education.The foundation hired its first employee. Also, Johnston County Schools’ “Showcase of Stars” premiered and the event was established as a fundraiser for the Education Foundation.
  • In 1993, the grants program was expanded. The foundation board accepted administration of the Benjamin E. Strifert Scholarship at North Johnston High School. Also, the board accepted administration of the Caryn Reed Scholarship at Clayton High School.
  • In 1994, Superintendent Dr. James Causby was hired by the Johnston County Board of Education. Also that year, the partnership of Johnston County Schools/Johnston County Education Foundation for Project L3 received a Governor’s Program of Excellence in Education award. Grant winners began to be recognized at the PTA/PTO/Advisory Council dinners. The board accepted administration of the Ray A. Boyette Visual Arts Grants and the Lance Oatley Stewart Memorial Wrestling Scholarship. The Life Long Learning Project spawned off on its own, with a separate board of directors to oversee its success.
  • In 1995, the foundation mission statement was amended to read, “The Johnston County Education Foundation strives to enhance the public school educational experience of students within Johnston County through the involvement of financial and human resources from the private sector by supporting and creating programs that expand the quality of education.” A five-year celebration was held and the first JCEF video was produced. The Johnston Community Foundation awarded a grant to the foundation to support grants programs.
  • In 1996, the foundation joined each chamber of commerce in Johnston County to provide better visibility and influence. The board accepted administration of the Mast Firm Scholarship at each of the JCS high schools, the Rains Scholarship at Princeton High school, the Thomas Eastwood Medlin Scholarship at Smithfield-Selma High School, the Miss Ione B. Vinson Memorial Scholarship with county-wide competition, the Ray Hollowell Memorial Scholarship at Princeton High School, and the Quinton Brown Memorial Scholarship at Smithfield-Selma High. Also in 1996, the board received a $105,000 bequest from Newitt Williams. The mission statement was amended again to read, “The Johnston County Education Foundation will enhance the public school educational experience of students within Johnston County through the prudent use of resources, and through programs which foster creativity, innovation, and involvement.”
  • In 1997, the Showcase of Stars was expanded to four shows. Brogden Mills grants were established through a partnership with Brogden Mills. The board accepted administration of the Ethel Butler Simpson Scholarship with county-wide competition. Barbara Clapp Character Awards were defined and administered. The board accepted administration of the Kim Beam Cox Scholarship at Smithfield-Selma High. The Kenly Kiwanis Club pledged support for up to $750 each year for the J. Burke Long Kenly Kiwanis Grants. The first adult spelling bee was held.
  • In 1998, the foundation established a presence on the internet. The board accepted administration of the J.E. Rogerson Memorial Scholarship and the Woodall Scholarship. The foundation began participation in the Johnston County Flame for Learning Awards by providing $500 to the Flame recipient. The organization also began providing desserts for the new employee luncheon. A partnership with the N.C. Center for International Understanding was established so that five educators from Johnston County could travel to Mexico to learn first-hand about the culture in order to better educate Latino students in our system. The foundation partnered with Texas Steakhouse for the “Excellence in Education” coupon program.
  • In 1999, the partnership participated in the 50th Mule Days Parade in Benson with a partnership float. Progress Energy and area teachers and principals joined us on the float. The board accepted administration of the Jimmy Ray Eason Memorial Soccer Scholarship at Smithfield-Selma High and the Michael David Creech Memorial Scholarship at North Johnston High. The foundation partnered with Applebee’s in Smithfield on their Grant Opening Night. Diners ate free and contributions and tips supported the foundation.
  • In 2000, board members volunteered in the schools in celebration of the foundation’s 10th year. The board accepted administration of Four Oaks Bank Scholarships at each of the five JCS high schools and of the Jamie Mack Penny Memorial Scholarship at South Johnston High. Carolyn Ennis was recognized for her dedication to the foundation through Showcase of Stars and the board accepted administration of the Susan P. Oldham Memorial Scholarship at North Johnston High and the Tom I. Davis Jr. Leadership Award, endowed by Jimmy & Earline Hite of Hite Associates. 
  • In 2001, the board accepted the role of advisory board for the SAVVY after school program at Selma Middle School, made possible by a grant from the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.The board accepted administration of the Mary Jane Mitchell Reading Award at Cleveland Elementary School and the Alyce Sumrell Educational Endowment, which should grow into a scholarship at Clayton High School in the future. Also, the board accepted the administration of Colonel Donald E. Woodard Scholarship for ROTC at Smithfield-Selma High School.
  • In 2002, the first scholarship naming raffle was held with a barbecue dinner at the Selma Fire Station and free tickets to the Rudy Theatre to see The American Music Jubilee held on Aug. 17. 2002. The board accepted administration of the Carquest Performance Supply Scholarship at North Johnston High School, the Carlton Daughtery Memorial Scholarship at Smithfield-Selma High School, the Deacon Jones Scholarship at Princeton High School and the Cooper Elementary Scholarship at Clayton High School. The JCEF participated in Belk Charity Day, receiving proceeds from all the coupons we sold for the event. The board accepted administration of the Jessica Lynne Gurley Memorial Scholarship at North Johnston High School, the West Johnston High School Sportsmanship Alliance Scholarships and the West Johnston High School Excellence in Arts Scholarship. The JCEF Grant Patrol was re-established to deliver grants to winning teachers. The mission statement was updated to read, “The Johnston County Education Foundation promotes innovation, involvement, and excellence in the public schools through the prudent administration of privately-funded programs, grants and scholarships.” A vision statement was adopted to read, “To achieve recognition as the primary partner of public education in Johnston County through support of continuous academic improvement and professionalism and excellence in teaching.”
  • In 2003, the board accepted administration of the Smithfield Rotary Club Scholarship in Honor of Carl and Marjorie Lamm, the WIZ Kids Grant in memory of Debbie Wyzykowski, the Shirley Cohen Scholarship and the Life Long Learning Scholarship Funds from the Life Long Learning Foundation. The JCEF entered into a partnership with the Smithfield-Selma Chamber of Commerce to provide refurbished computers for students at Smithfield Middle School and Selma Middle School and also agreed to administer funds for Junior Leadership Johnston. In addition, the JCEF partnered with Johnston County Schools to host a retirement dinner for Dr. James F. Causby, with proceeds supporting a scholarship bearing his name.
  • In 2004, the board accepted administration of the Lucille Crocker Coates Scholarship, the Dr. James F. Causby Excellence in Education Scholarship, the Smithfield High School Scholarship and the JCS AP Scholarships. Also that year, the JCEF supported the JCS elementary science kits initiative.
  • In 2005, JCEF partnered with The Smithfield Herald and Outback Steakhouse in a Luncheon for Literacy fund raising event. The board also accepted administration of the Superintendent’s Scholarship, which will rotate alphabetically in the high schools, starting with Clayton High. The Ray A. Boyette Grant transitioned to the Ray A. Boyette Scholarship in the Arts. The board accepted administration of the Johnny Ray Johnson Memorial Scholarship at North Johnston High and the Sue Wood/Media Scholarship, to be awarded to classroom teachers who are working towards their school library and information science degree.
  • In 2006, JCEF board and JCS Superintendent Dr. Tony Parker reached an agreement for the executive director to become an employee of Johnston County Schools. The board accepted the administration of the Jeriad Paul Jacobs Scholarship at Clayton High School and a new logo for the foundation was adopted. The foundation board agreed to support the Principal of the Year award with a cash award of $1,500.
  • In 2007, the board accepted administration of the Rotary Club of Central Johnston County Scholarships, including the Four Oaks Bank Scholarships at each high school and multi-year scholarships from past years; the Cecilia McRae and Donnie Parker Excellence in Teaching Award at North Johnston High School for the school’s designated Teacher of the Year and the Donnie and Linda Vann Lassiter Scholarships at North Johnston High School.
  • In 2008, the JCEF attended the JCS employee health and benefits fair and updated its bylaws. The board accepted the administration of the “Every Little Voice Counts Scholarship” at Johnston County Middle College. Also, the foundation was invited to promote foundation-administered scholarship opportunities at the opening of the Relay for Life at JCC. The foundation staff doubled and Jeannine Flynn was hired as an assistant for the executive director.
  • In 2009, the board approved changing the name of the Woodall Scholarship at North Johnston High to the David Johnson Scholarship and accepted administration of the State Farm Good Neighbor Scholarships at South Johnston High and the Dr. H. Edward Croom Scholarship, which will rotate through Johnston County schools in alphabetical order. Through reorganization by Superintendent Ed Croom, the foundation staff became members of the public information department. The board accepted administration of the Selma Woman’s Club Scholarship at Smithfield-Selma High, accepted expansion of the Jamie Mack Penny Scholarship to include West Johnston High, accepted changes in the criteria for the Cooper Scholarship and accepted administration of the William and Dorothy Wellons Community Service Scholarship at Princeton High.
  • In 2010, Sysco of Raleigh hosted a Luncheon for Literacy. Horace Mann agreed to fund $1,000 for the Principal of the Year. Sysco agreed to fund $500 for the Flame for Learning recipient. The board accepted administration of the Joyce Wade Scholarship, with the recipient to be selected from county-wide applicants who are children of JCS employees. Also, the fiscal year was changed from a calendar year to a July 1 to June 30 year to align with the school year. The board accepted administration of the Teen Driving Awareness Scholarship, to be awarded in 2010 at each Johnston County Schools high school. “Education Horizons,” the foundation’s newsletter, was revived with the intent of publishing electronically three out of four quarters each year. A Time Warner Grant  for Intercessions at South Smithfield Elementary and West Smithfield Elementary was awarded. Also, a Wachovia/Wells Fargo Foundation Grant to be used for teacher grants in classrooms. In 2010, the foundation celebrated 20 years of promoting excellence, innovation and involvement in Johnston County Schools.
  • In 2013, a scholarship naming raffle was held in September 2013 and the Adult Spelling Bee in November. In July, the Central Johnston County Rotary Club hosted a luncheon for scholarship recipients.
  • In 2014, the foundation held a scholarship Showcase of Stars in March, the Flame for Learning Banquet in May, a scholarship naming raffle and a grant writing workshop in September and a spelling bee in November.
  • In 2015, the Showcase of Stars was held in March and the Adult Spelling Bee took place in October.
  • In 2016, the Showcase of Stars was held in April and the Adult Spelling Bee was held in November. Also in November, the foundation announced a partnership with Fit4Life.
  • In 2017, an Open House was held at Facility Services in conjunction with Johnston County Public Schools and the Adult Spelling Bee was held in November.
  • In 2018, Showcase of Stars was held in March, a Grant Expo was held in September and the Adult Spelling Bee in October.
  • In 2019, another Showcase of Stars program was held in March. Also that year, the Thelma W.Wall Memorial Library, a Free Little Library, was established on East Rose Street in Smithfield behind the West Campus Office Building of Johnston County Public Schools. In addition, the Adult Spelling Bee was held in October. In 2020, the coronavirus caused the cancellation of Showcase of Stars in March. However, at the close of the 2019-20 school year, the foundation still awarded 83 scholarships worth $80,000. 
  • In June 2021, at the end of 2020-21 school year, the foundation issued scholarships to 69 graduates worth more than $70,000. Over the summer the board met to name new members and Executive Director, Darla Peedin.  The new year is off to a great start with the welcome of Beginning Teachers in August, 2021.