In a garden that grows upon a ribbon of old family farmland in the mountains of Ashe County, dreams are harvested alongside vegetables.

The garden is a vision nurtured by Dr. Amanda Stroud, a member of the ECU School of Dental Medicine’s inaugural Class of 2015 and dental director for AppHealthCare in northwestern North Carolina. Even during her dental school days, Stroud had a clear image in her mind’s eye of a dental office that would provide oral health care — and so much more — for its community.

Stroud wanted to address the food insecurity she witnessed in some of her dental patients and local families. With the help of partnerships, resources, energy and patience, she created the AppHealthCare Community Dental Garden, which this year yielded 360 pounds of produce and gave 70 families access to healthy food.

“All this started in dental school,” Stroud said.

Stroud had seen patients who were experiencing hunger and food insecurity and wanted to do something about it. The idea took root years earlier when Stroud was in dental school and was asked to complete a class assignment using the question, “What do you want to see your dental office become?”

She pictured a welcoming, bustling office that would also serve as a community-based center —with lively art on the walls, children’s events and activities, and a garden outside. That feature was vital to the plan because Stroud anticipated such a need across her community, a trait of her health and public service-minded goals that urged her to find a solution to an all too common problem.

“We live in a beautiful place — scenic and historic — yet we have poverty and all of the issues that go with it. Food insecurity is one of them,” Gentry said. “This garden provided food to 70 families. Fresh, healthy food, which is key to health and general well-being. Nourishing food, full of vitamins and nutrients, is so important to the health of our community.”

Stroud’s garden has proved to be an invaluable resource to the people of her community, a label that others give Stroud herself.

Read more at https://news.ecu.edu/2020/12/11/growing-solutions/ . For more information on the AppHealthCare Community Dental Garden and how to support it, contact Stroud at amanda.stroud@apphealth.com .

2020 Treasured Pirates honored in virtual ceremony

East Carolina University recognized 26 service-minded faculty and staff members who were named 2020 Treasured Pirates during a virtual ceremony on Dec. 2.

“At ECU, we take our motto ‘servire’ — to serve — pretty seriously,” Dr. Ron Mitchelson, interim chancellor, said in recorded remarks. “I think it’s been an important ingredient coping with this difficult time of COVID. I’d say our entire Pirate crew has clearly displayed our generous spirit. These selected individuals illustrate the very best of Pirate culture with their passion for our mission and their compassion for others.”

Faculty and staff were nominated for making a difference in the workplace and community. The list of nominees was narrowed by division before being sent to a university-wide committee. The size of the division factored in the number of winners named in each area. Each awardee received a plaque and $250. The ECU Human Resources Learning and Organizational Development office coordinates the awards and ceremony.


“2020 has certainly thrown numerous challenges our way, but I am very excited to get the opportunity to start the last month of the year taking some time to recognize these Treasured Pirates,” said Justin Yeaman, director of learning and organizational development, who served as master of ceremonies.

The 2020 Treasured Pirates are Rachel Gaskins, Andrew Grace, Rose Haddock, Greg Harris, Pamela Hopkins, Cui Meadows and Amy Waters of Academic Affairs; Jason Beasley, Allen Dennis, Vicky Grimes, Steven G. Hopper and Darius Smith of Administration and Finance; Brandon Smith of Athletics; Martha Dartt, Melissa Eakes, Alan Gindoff, J. Todd Jackson, Tiffany Johnson, Greg Kearney, Erica Maine, Gene Self, Allen Watkins and Debbie Whitley of Health Sciences; Becky Gardner of Research, Economic Development and Engagement; and Karen Franklin and Mark Rasdorf of Student Affairs.

ECU alumna receives Arthur Miller Foundation arts education award

An ECU alumna recently received the Excellence in Arts Education Award from the Arthur Miller Foundation.

Lisanne Shaffer, a theater teacher at the Brooklyn High School of the Arts in New York, was honored during a virtual gala in November.

Originally from North Carolina, Shaffer received her bachelor of fine arts in theatre arts with a concentration in musical theatre from ECU in 2003. She acted, directed and choreographed theater programs and managed touring performances before she became a full-time teacher.

In 2015, she earned a master’s in educational theatre from the City College of New York, where she is an adjunct professor.

At Brooklyn High School of the Arts, she teaches all ninth grade acting classes and leads the acclaimed musical theater program. She also serves as the lead high school theater teacher for an annual summer arts institute at Frank Sinatra High School in Queens, N.Y.

“ECU theatre and dance certainly set me on the track to becoming the teacher I am today,” Shaffer said.

The nonprofit Arthur Miller Foundation was founded by Rebecca Miller to honor her father, the American playwright, who was educated in public schools in Harlem and Brooklyn. The foundation works to provide access and equity to quality theater education for public school students.

The gala featured musical performances by cast members from “Hamilton,” “Waitress,” “Ain’t Too Proud,” “In the Heights,” “The Color Purple” and more.

The event raised funds for the AMF theater education program, which provides New York area teachers with resources to build, grow and sustain quality theater programs. AMF also supports a scholarship program with the City College of New York for aspiring public school theater teachers, according to the AMF website.

Contact jstorm@reflector.com or 252-329-9587.