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SSS Ignites Learning Through the Arts, Travel, and Leadership

Art, travel, and leadership--these three areas highlight the extraordinary life of Johnston County native, Nan Ogburn Cullman.  Born 1929 in Smithfield, Cullman enchanted audiences as a professional singer, performing with multiple opera and choral oganizations.  She was also involved with civic organizations and valued travel experiences.  With her death in 2015, $2 million was bequethed from her estate to support student learning with a preference for activities that incorporate art, travel, and leadership.


From left: Quinn Novels from the NC Community Foundation, Kate Cullman Hedges, and SSS Principal, David Allen

From left: Quinn Novels from the NC Community Foundation; Kate Cullman Hedges, oldest daughter of the Nan Ogburn Cullman Family; and SSS Principal, David Allen


Teachers at Smithfield-Selma High School (SSS) have been awarded over $52,000 in grant funding from the Nan Ogburn Cullman Education Endowment to promote student engagement and learning.  Administered and supported through the NC Community Foundation (NCCF), the NCCF works with an advisory committee to review the submitted grant projects.


The grants that have been awarded for 2019 include:


  • "SSS Academy of Hospitality and Tourism $ Construction Student to the Biltmore Estates"--Exposes students to culinary and architectural arts in North Carolina
  • "The Great Adventure: Learning About Our Planet and What Lies Beyond"--Helps students develop a boarder perspective or the Earth and the solar system through a mobile planetarium
  • "The Nan Ogburn Cullman Brick Wing Gallery"--Showcases the artwork of students and teachers
  • "My Future is So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades"--Student travel to the Smithsonian Museum of American History and the Museum of African American History
  • "A Leader's Legacy"--AVID students visit the Civil Rights Museum in Atlanta, Georgia
  • "SSS Global Partnership"--Support an educational travel exchange between SSS and the Taarnby Gymnasium in Denmark
  • "Spartan Thunder"--Supports the SSS music program through the purchase of updated drums


A grant was also awarded in 2018 for virtual reality technology that helps students to travel the world without leaving the classroom.


Jeffery Carver, Johnston County Commissioner and Senior Vice President of First Citizens Bank, said: "The Nan Ogburn Cullman Educational Endowment provides students with innovative travel and artistic opportunities while promoting leadership skills. The endowment was designed to take students beyond the classroom and support engagement in the wider world. We hope that students who benefit from this endowment will one day follow in the tradition of giving back to their communities... ."


Daniel Barrett
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