Charlotte Teachers Institute Explores Lake Norman in Exploding Canons: Under The Lake Oct. 21

Photos from CTI’s Exploding Canons: Under The Lake October 21, 2014

Alex Edwards-Aaron Kollar

CTI Fellows Alexandra Edwards and Aaron Kollar welcome guests.

Amy Ringwood-Alan Vitale

CTI Seminar Leader Amy Ringwood and CTI Fellow Alan Vitale set up for guests to view living things Amy collected from Lake Norman waterways.

Mary Fabian and guests

CTI Fellow and Seminar Coordinator Mary Fabian invites guests to take a closer look at creatures who live in the lake.


Expert panelists included (l. to r.): Rebecca McKee, Jan Blodgett, Jeff Michael, Steve Jester and Bill McCoy.


The flow of life along the Catawba River changed dramatically about 50 years ago when Duke Energy created Lake Norman with the construction of Cowans Ford Dam in 1963. The lake and its surrounding region saw small farms, large plantations, mills and more replaced by state-of-the-art homes and businesses, nuclear power structures, and a recreational lake culture – along with less visible changes such as shifting fish populations and a rise in community activism and environmental protection.

Charlotte Teachers Institute (CTI) will plumb the depths of Lake Norman – past, present and future – with “Exploding Canons: Under The Lake” on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 5:30-8:00 pm, at Davidson College’s Lilly Family Gallery. This installment of CTI’s flagship speakers series dives deep into the changing social and physical landscapes of Lake Norman and its profound effects on the larger region, with a diverse group of topics and experts including:

  • Lake Norman: Powering the Region — Steve Jester, Vice President of Water Strategy, Hydro Licensing and Lake Services, Duke Energy
  • Stories from Under the Lake — Jan Blodgett, College Archivist, Davidson College
  • Making Room for Nature in Man-Made Environments — Rebecca McKee, Davidson Impact Fellow, Catawba Lands Conservancy
  • From River People to Lake People: Place & Identity in the Lake Norman Area — Jeff Michael, Director, UNC Charlotte Urban Institute
  • Lake Norman: A Catalyst for Growth — William J. “Bill” McCoy, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, UNC Charlotte

David Martin, professor of economics and environmental studies at Davidson, will serve as moderator. Community partners including Carolina Thread Trail, Catawba Lands Conservancy and the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute will host information booths during the event. “CTI’s Exploding Canons programs feature new ways of looking at current topics from a variety of perspectives,” said CTI Director Scott Gartlan. “It’s fascinating to consider all the lenses through which we can look at Lake Norman – what lies beneath the lake not just physically but socially and historically, and what it likely means for us in the future.” Gartlan noted this is CTI’s 10th Exploding Canons program. The original “Under the Lake” project began with Davidson College archivist Jan Blodgett who collected oral histories and stories about the people connected to Lake Norman to mark its 50th anniversary. “Exploring the land under the lake brings together so much more than a few names on an old map,” Blodgett noted. “Those names and the land they farmed, or mills they worked in, shaped this region. All our recent economic and social changes are built on what was here before. The more we know of the stories of the lake, the richer our shared culture becomes.” “Duke Energy had a vision to harness the power of the Catawba River to provide electricity for a growing region,” explained Duke Energy’s Steve Jester.  “The completion of Cowans Ford Dam in 1963 created Lake Norman which was a catalyst for the region’s prosperity and continues to be a valuable resource for the community.” CTI’s Oct. 21 event, sponsored by Duke Energy, is free and open to the public. It begins with a reception at 5:30 pm, followed by the speakers’ presentations and panel discussion from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Information and registration is available at or 704-687-0047. About Charlotte Teachers Institute The Charlotte Teachers Institute is an educational partnership among Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS), Davidson College and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte initiated to strengthen teaching and learning in CMS. An affiliate of the Yale National Initiative at Yale University, CTI provides intensive, seven-month-long seminars led by Davidson and UNC Charlotte faculty where CMS teachers learn new content, work collaboratively with other district teachers, and create new curriculum for their own classrooms. Teachers serve as leaders in the institute and choose seminar topics they deem most important and engaging for current CMS teachers and their students. Since CTI’s inception in 2009, more than 350 CMS teachers with over 70,000 students have participated in CTI seminars. CTI also reaches out to the larger community with public events such as Teachers As Scholars and the popular Exploding Canons cultural collaboration series. CTI is made possible by a joint commitment of resources from all three Institute partners, with additional support from the Duke Energy Foundation, Piedmont Natural Gas Foundation, Wells Fargo and the Belk Foundation. The institute is housed at UNC Charlotte within the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. In 2013, CTI and its partners were recognized by the Council of Great City Schools with the Shirley S. Schwartz Urban Education Impact Award. For more information, please visit or contact CTI Executive Director Scott Gartlan at 704-687-0078 or