#ThankAnEducator: Your Stories about Educators Who Change Lives

We are devoting this season of giving thanks to express our appreciation to the educators who made a difference in our lives and who are transforming lives, schools and communities across North Carolina, the nation and the world. We asked our alumni, students and friends to join the #ThankAnEducator movement by writing notes of appreciation to educators who changed their lives. Read what they had to say below.

From: Mary Jones ’18EDD

My ninth grade English teacher, Mrs. Beverly Cooper (mother of Governor Roy Cooper) instilled a burning passion for English Language Arts by introducing Edgar Allan Poe to her Nash County “gifted and talented” students in 1977. Although Mrs. Cooper is no longer with us, her vibrant love for learning remains steadfast for her former students. Mrs. Cooper, there is a special place for educators who are passionate about learning and I will forever strive to pay it forward.

From: Sanford Boswell

One day in 1987, I mentioned to a colleague that I was thinking about pursuing a doctorate. He said he’d been thinking about it, too, so we made an appointment to see Dr. Ed Boone, who headed the doctoral program in Community College Leadership. He was very cordial as he told us we were welcome to apply but that he had just finished advising his last doctoral student and wouldn’t be advising any others. We promised him that if he’d accept us, we wouldn’t stop until our graduation. Dr. Boone told us to enroll in a class but that we couldn’t be officially accepted into the program until after we had earned nine credit hours. Long story short, we made it into the program, Dr. Boone agreed to chair our doctoral committees, and we crossed the finish line as promised. We took only one class from Dr. Boone (the one familiarly known as Booneology), but of course, we attended his 7:00 “Sunrise Seminars” that required us to leave home about 4:00 in the morning (our commute was about 125 miles each way). The coffee he made for the seminars was strong enough to keep one awake all day and well into the night.
Dr. Boone had us begin preliminary research for our dissertations soon after our acceptance into the program, and we had numerous meetings about our projects. He was always patient, pointing out items he thought we should change (which we did), and he always encouraged us to keep plugging away. We grew to love him, and after our five-year trek, Dr. Boone and Dr. Shearon escorted us across stage during the 1992 winter graduation ceremony. That, however, is not the end of the story. We decided it would be nice to visit him after our graduation, and visits with him and his lovely wife, Mrs. Ethel Boone, became the norm during semester and holiday breaks. We had many nice visits in their home and usually went out for lunch. After my father passed away, he became like a second father, giving me sage advice on several occasions. The passing of Dr. Boone made me almost as sad as when my father died, but he will always be alive in my heart. Mrs. Boone is still dear to us, too, and we visit her when we can.

Michelle Parker-Van Dyke with Dr. Carol Pope at graduation.

From: Michelle Parker-Van Dyke ’13

Dr. Carol Pope taught me how to make literacy instruction doable for my middle school students. She also taught me how to engage my students and foster a love of reading. During her class, she challenged us to read 10 books…I ended up reading well over 30 all while taking other methods courses! Most importantly, Dr. Pope continuously taught me that good teaching is good teaching and my students will learn from good teaching. I keep that mantra in mind today as I plan and teach as a theatre educator. Beyond the classroom, Dr. Pope continued to look out for me as I started my teaching career. She encouraged me during my tough first year of teaching and even went above and beyond to send her condolences when my father passed away during my second year of teaching. She really made an impact on my life as an educator and a human being. I am still inspired by her and one day also hope to be a [doctor] inspiring my students to go on and achieve everything.

Allison Echstenkamper and her assistant principal Dr. Jailal


From: Allison Echstenkamper ’14

My assistant principal always supported me during my first two years of teaching. She listened to my shackles, constantly encourage me, give me positive feedback, as well as constructive criticism. She stood up for me to parents and always advocated on my behalf. I could not have made it through my first two years of teaching without her. Thank you, Dr. Jailal!

From: Sondra Ayscue ’99MR

Mrs. Anne Smith was my mentor at Bunn Elementary School in Franklin County in my second year of teaching. She was and still is an amazing person and educator. Mrs. Smith was like my school mom in that she led me through the trials of being a new educator and offered support that only an excellent teacher and carrying person could offer. I will forever be grateful to her.

From: Lacey Seaton

Thank you to my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Tracey O’Connor. When I entered fourth grade, I had just moved to a new town and didn’t know anyone. Mrs. O’Connor made sure that I felt welcome in the classroom. She was an incredibly engaging teacher and made sure we all knew how much she cared about us. I remember missing the bus because I just wanted to spend time with Mrs. O’Connor. I hope many students have teachers like Mrs. O’Connor. She is the type of educator I want to be and that I want for all students. I am thankful for the content she taught me but also for teaching me how to be a great teacher long before I knew I would want to become a teacher. Thank you for planning engaging science experiments, pushing us to advance in reading, and teaching us how to be kind to everyone.

From: Wendy Recinos

To my favorite (and only) psychology professor at Central Carolina Community College,

Entering the world of taking college courses while still in high school was one of the scariest experiences I have been through but you made it easier for me. Through the strenuous and time-consuming efforts of writing papers for English courses and the introduction to the intricate world of calculus, you allowed me to feel excited about a subject and a class that wasn’t full of pressure. I value your teaching styles and willingness to not just be an instructor but a listener, and a mentor to all students. Learning about psychology through the courses of developmental, abnormal and general with you was such a fun experience because we went in depth while looking at revolutionary psychology cases and I even found out things about myself that I didn’t know before, like the personality color test! I hope to be as a great of an educator as you are someday.

Thank you for everything.

From: Kaitlyn Winter

Mrs. Brinkley changed my life by showing me that math is relevant. I had Mrs. Brinkley for geometry and calculus in high school. Her passion for math is contagious and one of the reasons I picked to pursue a career in math education. Mrs. Brinkley truly embodied the growth mindset associated with mathematics and believed that all of her students were capable of learning math. I am forever grateful for the love of math that Mrs. Brinkley fostered in me.

From: Margaret St. John ’83MS

Dr. Jim Hughes was my special education professor when I was at NC State in 1981-1982. He presented his lectures with humor and warmth. After class, we’d meet him at local fun places to discuss the lesson and have fun!! Once, he scheduled a canoe trip for six of us to navigate New River; he made learning such fun! Thank you, Dr. Hughes, for your knowledge and the fun ways you used to impart it!!

From: Jamie Gillespie

When I was in sixth grade, my teacher, Mrs. DeSanto, cared about me. I was having a hard time emotionally, and she spent one-on-one time with me to get to know more about me. She talked with me about what was going on in my life and shared some of her own experiences. She made me feel seen, valued and heard. The compassion she showed to me, at a time when I really needed it, probably helped me weather a lot of turmoil later in my life. She also made me want to be that kind of teacher for my own students.

From: Ann Noland ’82MS

Back in the ’80s when I was taking graduate courses in Learning Disabilities at NC State, I asked Dr. Cathy Crossland to come to the Wake County Elementary School that one of my children was attending. LD was new on the horizon but I thought my daughter had such problems. Dr. Crossland came, observed, diagnosed and conferred with us, her teacher and my daughter. Her help was hugely significant for all of us. Our daughter got the help and support she needed and now is a professor and researcher at a major university. Her help changed all of our lives significantly.

NC State Education student Alliyah Rich and her high school music teacher Mr. Price

From: Alliyah Rich

My high school chorus teacher Mr. Price impacted my overall high school experience tremendously. Over the last four years, I have grown to know him and I have learned so much from him, not just in music, but in life as well. He helped me find a passion for music, and he always helped me and my classmates reach our full potential. He cares so much about what he does, and he is exactly the kind of educator I want to be one day. I knew I could always come to him with any problem I had and he would be there to listen. His classroom was a safe place, and I knew I was and always will be welcome. He made high school so much more enjoyable for me and I appreciate that so much. I am so lucky to have had him as a teacher.

From: Jasmine Wiggins

I’ve been lucky and have had several educators make an impact on my life. One, in particular, is Professor Robert Porter. He encouraged me to consider graduate school and acted as an incredible resource regarding scholarships and research/travel opportunities while I was in college. He recommended to me a scholarship that I would not have applied for if he did not bring it to me attention. I received the travel scholarship and my experience from it was life-changing and opened up my world! Professor Porter not only encouraged me to apply to graduate school but supported me with strong letters of recommendation. So, thank you, Professor Porter. You have motivated, empowered, and supported me, a young African American woman from rural, Eastern North Carolina.

Rachel Langberg with friends and her principal internship mentor Mary Taylor

From: Rachel Langberg ’15MR

Mary Taylor was the assistant principal at the school where I completed my Principal Internship from July 2015-May 2015. She exhibited extraordinary qualities as a leader, parent and friend, and was able to find positivity in each day. To this day, she remains focused on enhancing the educational system in WCPSS, is organized, innovative and kind. Her guidance has led me to think more critically about the impact I may have on any individual I interact with in and out of the educational setting, and her spirit inspires me to do better each day. I learned to develop systems and structures that allow teachers to focus on teaching, and am constantly motivated to align my work and life schedules. . .since she always made sure to keep her friends’, family’s, and school’s needs at the top of her priority list (above her own name)! I can’t thank her enough for being such a wonderful educator and administrator, and will take any opportunity to say THANKS whenever I can!

From: Monica Smith

Mrs. Bolchalk was my high school biology teacher and my mentor teacher when I was a TA my senior year. She opened her classroom to me and gave me lots of opportunities to observe and engage in the world of education. Mrs. Bolchalk knew I wanted to be a teacher and helped me in any way she could, and that meant so much to me as an 18-year-old who was just figuring out that I wanted to teach.

Dominique Taylor with her undergraduate professor Dr. Paulette Dillard

From: Dominique Taylor ’17MAT

First I want to say thank you to all educators. A special thank you to my undergrad professor Dr. Paulette Dillard, she not only taught me science but she also taught me work ethic. She was tough, but I know it was all out of love. Also, thank you to all of my teachers from Kindergarten to graduate school, you all have molded me into the educator I am today!

From: Vicki Clark ’81MS

In the late 1970s, Neal Conoley was an administrator for the N.C. Marine Resources Centers (now N.C. Aquariums). When my first education job, a temporary federally-funded education position at the Fort Fisher Aquarium ended due to lack of funding, I was “floundering.” Neal counseled each of us who had lost our jobs due to the funding loss. He told me I should definitely build on my undergrad biology degree and go for a master’s degree. Neal personally took me to the NC State campus and introduced me to Dr. Norman Anderson and Dr. Ronald Simpson at the NC School of Education’s Mathematics & Science Department. I applied for a scholarship, which I didn’t get. But Dr. Anderson and Dr. Simpson hired me to work on their education textbook. (I was a lightning fast typist in those days), and I was on my way to becoming an alumnus of the NC State School of Education. Because of Neal’s interest and concern, and Dr. Simpson and Dr. Anderson’s guidance, I enjoyed an exciting career as a science educator at public schools in the Richmond area (12 years) and retired after 19 years as a marine science educator with Virginia Sea Grant at the VA Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary.

From: Shelby Adcock

Anna Miller, my 12th-grade AP Biology teacher has had one of biggest lasting impacts on my life from my entire educational career. Mrs. Miller, during senior year when my grandmother was so sick in the hospital I was forced to miss a few weeks of school; therefore, I missed a lot of material. You poured out concern for my family and you even offered to buy or cook us dinner. This was one of the most heart warming gestures that I have ever gotten from anyone. The simple fact of this inspires me to be the teacher I want to be throughout my entire career. You have continued to stay in touch with me even 2 years later and you constantly remind me of how proud you are of me for chasing my dreams and pursuing education. I will never be able to thank you enough for everything that you have done for me Mrs. Miller. I hope this letter expresses that completely. You are more than awesome!!

DraQuan Scott

From: DraQuan Scott

Mrs. Jackson was an incredible high school English teacher at Millbrook High. I can recall my first day in her room as a new student. She welcomed me with opened arms and a pleasant smile as she introduced me to my fellow peers. Before taking English 10 with Mrs. Jackson, I never felt that I was a strong writer (though, I’ve always enjoyed writing and learning about English concepts). I remember taking the state-mandated writing tests back in 10th grade, and I never seemed to do extremely well on those. Mrs. Jackson continued to provide support and positive feedback. There was never a moment she didn’t encourage me to continue trying; while reaffirming me that if I give it time and continue giving my all, my writing skills will definitely improve! She made me feel as though I could conquer the world in that English Class. Today, though English is definitely not my favorite subject, I’ve gain lifelong skills that made me a better writer. It’s because of her that I’ve succeeded throughout all my other high school English courses, graduated high school, succeed in my College English courses and soon to be graduating college as a Teacher! Her perseverance, passion, and positive attitude towards her career and her students is what I remember most. Mrs. Jackson, I hope to take those same characteristics into my classroom with hopes to be just as great of a teacher as you are! Thank you so much! #ThankAnEducator

From: Vance Herring ’81

Dr. Willis Parker changed not only my life but many students within the School of Education and other universities my establishing Collegiate Chapters of VICA. He was a dedicated educator in the vocational and Industrial education department in the 70s and 80s. Unfortunately, Dr. Parker passed during our time at NC State. During my last year at NC State (’81), along with the help of his family, faculty and many students, we established the Willis Parker Memorial Scholarship for VICA, which is now Skills USA at the secondary-level in North Carolina which is still going strong today. Dr. Parker had an amazing talent for memory and never forgot a single student he taught. His dedication to helping all students in every aspect of life was a great loss to the NC State School of Education.

From: Kayla Craft ’14

Dr. Candy Beal at NC State College of Education was the most inspirational professor I had in my years at NC State. She was welcoming and kind but also firm in her teaching. She taught us how to be educators by being a phenomenal model. I hope to be half the educator she was in my career.

From: Melissa Coto

My 6th grade English teacher taught to love reading and writing. She showed me I was capable of more than I thought I was and gave me opportunities to express myself creatively and allowed me to “think outside the box.”

From: Heather McDaniel

I would like to thank Cathy Crossland for the impact she has had on my professional life. Prior to taking her course, I was slightly apprehensive because I had heard how “hard” she could be and how difficult it was to do well in her class. Thankfully, I like to form my own opinions of others. After the first class, I could tell right away that I liked her approach. She was incredibly knowledgeable and straightforward which is a quality I appreciate very much in people. While taking her course I can say that I learned more in that one course than I did all of the others combined. She arranged the course in a field-based manner in which we visited various sites each meeting time and heard from different speakers within the field of special education. This was a very beneficial experience for me as I got to experience different settings that I hadn’t before. Aside from providing me with a wealth of information she also showed how much confidence she had in me through feedback and encouragement. She has also helped me to develop connections within the teaching world and has worked to help me advance my career in teaching as well. Dr. Crossland is certainly an educator who puts her students first. Thank you for everything you have done for me.

NC State Education student Jessica Mattie and her high school counselor Dana Kurilew

From: Jessica Mattie

My high school counselor, Dana Kurilew has been a constant advocate for my education. While in high school, Mrs. Kurilew supported me throughout my college decision process as she knew I wanted to go out-of-state from New Jersey to North Carolina for my undergraduate education. She provided me with resources to broaden my search and was available to talk through my thought processes. Her door was also always open to talk about difficult moments in my life as well, making my high school a place where I felt heard and supported. She also challenged me to take advantage of the opportunities at my school and to push myself academically. Throughout my undergraduate education, Mrs. Kurilew and I kept in touch and she continued to help prepare me for my future career as a high school counselor as well. She even wrote one of my graduate school recommendation letters which truly was an honor. I am so lucky to have had such an influential counselor in my life as a student and now as a mentor as I come closer to graduating with my M.Ed in Counselor Education!

From: Cally Hudson

Dear Ashley,

During my first few years teaching, you were an invaluable resource to me. You never seemed to run out of ideas and were always trying something new. When I would get tired and feel like the job was hard, you were always there to remind me of my “why” for being here – its what the kids deserve. I love you and am proud of the educator you are and who you’ve helped me become!

From: Anna Humphrey

Ellen Birch changed my life. She was my high school math teacher at St. Mary’s School in Raleigh. I was 16 and unsure of my career path. Ms. Birch became my hero and I idolized her ability to teach math and her deep understanding of math, as well as her dry wit. I wanted to be Ellen Birch so I became a math teacher too! Not a day goes by that I don’t hear her voice while I am teaching. After 26 years of teaching college and high school students, I am thrilled to get the opportunity to thank her. She steered my life in a direction I would never have considered without her. I try to be the strong role model for my calculus students that Ms. Birch was for me.

From: Megan Gwiazdowski

Mr. Caudill was my 5th-grade art teacher, and while I was not and still am not very much of an artist, he taught me more about life than could have ever been learned in a classroom. He was my teacher during 9/11 and the following year when my dad deployed, and Mr. Caudill very quickly stepped in to fill any void or sadness I felt with my dad being gone during that time. He very much took me under his wing and became like family. He was also very patient with my limited artistic abilities and helped me find my groove with making pottery. I cannot thank him enough for everything he has done for me over the years and the solid support system he has been for nearly 20 years. While he may not have been my classroom teacher, he has left a bigger impact on me and taught me about the kind of educator I want to be than any other teacher I’ve ever had. He truly embodies what it means to care for the whole well-being of a student, not just the kid you see sitting in your classroom. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU, Mr. C!

NC State Education graduate student Whitney Robertson with her professor Dr. Marc Grimmett

From: Whitney Robertson

I can say with great confidence that Dr. Marc Grimmett has changed my life. I had the opportunity to take two of his courses last year during my tenure at NC State as a PhD student. His classes were not your typical classes, as he challenged each of his students to think outside of the box. I was able to not only grow as a scholar but also professionally and personally. My awareness of the systemic needs of change that exist are heightened and my pursuit of advocacy is real. I will always be grateful to Dr. Grimmett for being as authentic as he is for his students and community.

From: Risa Sink

I consider myself fortunate to have crossed paths with numerous exceptional educators in my sixteen years of schooling, but my fourth-grade teacher was without a doubt the most influential. Without her, I am positive I would not have passed the fourth-grade writing EOG and I doubt I would even be pursuing a degree in education. Mrs. Charles is one of those people who just gets it. She understands the importance of excelling academically, but she cares more about the wellbeing of the student than their GPA. Her passion for her career and her students fueled my personal passion for the field of education. Mrs. Charles attended my high school graduation and we remain in touch through social media.

NC State Education student Haley Barker with her undergraduate professor Steve Craft

From: Haley Barker

Mr. Craft,

Not only were you my favorite professor at Columbus State, you further went on to be one of the best supervisors I’ve had and continue to be an excellent mentor for me. You also were a huge part of my acceptance into graduate school here at NCSU and I could never say thank you enough! You make a difference in so many lives and I’m thankful to have the pleasure of knowing you!

From: Lloyd Lindsay

When I started my education degree in Jamaica, a professor inspired me during a course entitled the fundamentals of teaching she taught me that I must believe in myself. It doesn’t matter where I start in life, I can achieve great things if I trust myself and inner resources. As a result since then, I see giving up not an action in anything I put at hand, and today I thank God for her.

From: Susan Buchenberger

Thank you, Dr. Susan Barcinas and Jamie Bogarski for your positive feedback. During my first semester as an older graduate student, your positive and encouraging comments on my work kept me enrolled in the program. It was easy to become overwhelmed with the workload and new technology, juggling a full-time job, while beginning graduate school. Your feedback helped me realize that I was not too old to learn and that my life’ experiences added value to forum posts. I finish in less than 3 weeks. Thank you both so much.

NC State Education graduate student Somanita Kheang with her Mentor Ryan Guffey

From: Somanita Kheang

I would like to express the deepest appreciation to my mentor, Dr. Ryan Guffey, who strongly supported me — financially and academically — to finish my EdD degree in Instructional Leadership at Lindenwood University, St. Charles, Missouri. He provided me a full scholarship to pursue a doctoral study and an opportunity to work as a doctoral assistant in the Educational Leadership Department at Lindenwood University. That was absolutely the great turning point in my life–I have witnessed the real experiences in pursuing higher education in the U.S. and was able to enhance my comprehensive study and network in the adult education field that I would not be able to accomplish that in my country, Cambodia. He is also the one whom I can always turn to for thoughtful advice related to my academic journey and career in higher education. I am inspired by his wisdom, kindness, and contribution that I will return the favor by doing the same thing to my future mentee(s). He is the best mentor I have ever had! I am sure he is continuing to touch many more lives, regardless of where he is.

From: Katelyn Suchyta

Ms. Glos is an inspirational teacher. She teaches middle school math in Halifax County at a title 1, with a majority of her students below grade level. She teaches her absolute heart out, constantly trying new techniques in her classroom to better engage her students, differentiating lessons, and getting them pulled back to grade level. As her roommate, I witness her perseverance, compassion, and love for teaching. She works at least 12 hours a day: from planning lessons, grading papers, and attending games to watch her students play. This dedication has changed my life as a teacher and it inspires me to be the best teacher I can be in my second-grade classroom in Eastern North Carolina.

From: Alfie Chandler

My current band teacher [Ms. Kristen Daniel] has really changed me as a person. In fact, I can say she has probably changed all of her students. She cares for all of us inside and outside of school. She hasn’t been with our school very long, but I can strongly say she belongs with us.

My current English teacher [Mrs. Samantha Rieger] has changed my life in the very short time I have had her, honestly. She cares for her students like we are her own children. As someone who wants to be an English teacher, I look up to her and aspire to be as great of an educator as she is. She also loves puns almost as much as me, which is always great.

From: Lauren Bowling ’16MAT

My middle school health and PE teacher, Mr. Tyson, taught me what it means to be genuinely interested in your students’ lives. He invested in me, not just as a student or athlete, but as a person, always encouraging me to have character and to pursue a lifelong standard of excellence. Like many people, I have fuzzy memories of middle school. However, being in Mr. Tyson’s class and on his track team are some of my fondest memories from my teenage years. Mr. Tyson has continued to encourage me, sending me a personal note of welcome as I began my career as a middle school teacher. His positive attitude, character, and dedication have inspired me for the last 15+ years, and I will always be grateful for his influence in my life.

NC State Education student Lindsay Dinallo with her former teachers Ms. Reagan and Ms. Walker

From: Lindsay Dinallo

In eighth grade, I began to struggle with my health. For months I had a rash-like bruising all on my legs that would come and go every other day, blood in my urine, joint pain, and no doctor could diagnose what it was. I was embarrassed to wear anything that didn’t cover my legs which led to me not dressing out in physical education. I went through many blood tests before it was decided I have a skin biopsy on my leg. The results came back and I was diagnosed with Henoch-Schonlein Purpura (HSP). HSP is an autoimmune disease that mainly affects young children and for a very short amount of time. However, I was older and had been struggling for months. I had a biopsy done of my kidney which showed my kidneys had attacked themselves and I had lost 10 percent of their functioning. I had two teachers named Ms. Reagan and Ms. Walker who were the most understanding and caring people I have ever encountered. They helped me catch up on all the work I had missed, all while making sure my overall well-being was okay. I would like to thank them for all their help and kindness for which I will forever be grateful.

From: Brianna Suchyta

My teacher changed my life by helping me understand the importance of learning. They also made me realize that I love to learn!

From: Jai Jackson

Thank you to Mr. Jerome Hughes of the AVID/SILSA program at Asheville Middle/High School. He recognized the potential in a troubled and distracted young man and allowed my curiosity to lead the way towards my learning and achievement. Mr. Hughes refused to allow me to take less than what I was worth and he always pushed me to work twice as hard, be double prepared, and extra engaged.

I will always remember the mark he left on my life and as a means of tribute and appreciation, I will continue to push others to recognize their worth and harness their potential.

NC State Education graduate student Kaitlyn Sewell and her mother Karin


From: Kaitlyn Sewell

My mother. She home-schooled me for many years and taught me how to be independent, responsible, and intellectually curious. Outside of being my teacher before I graduated high school, she is an amazing mother to my five younger siblings and me. She’s a special education teacher for Louisa County Middle School in Virginia now and continues to change lives every day through her passion and love for education.

From: Cassie Byrd

Over the years, many teachers, coaches, professors and administrators have been a positive influence in my life. Mrs. Blackney, an elementary school teacher in Cabarrus County, was the most influential for me. She helped me through a particularly difficult year and provided guidance for many years after she was my teacher.

NC State Education student Allyson Sarnowski and her teacher Ms. Brinkley-Hundley

From: Allyson Sarnowski

Mrs. Teresa Brinkley-Hundley was a teacher and mentor to me throughout high school. I became involved in SGO in 9th grade and she was the club sponsor. Throughout high school, I was still involved in SGO, but I also began peer tutoring for a couple kids in her credit recovery courses. Mrs. Brinkley established a relationship with me that flourished throughout high school — I went to see her each day even when I was no longer in her class just to say hey! She became the teacher I went to when I was having a tough day or needed advice. She went above and beyond for each and every child. This woman has played a huge role in my life and is partly why I chose to pursue education. I aspire to be a teacher that changes lives just like Mrs. Brinkley.


From: Haley Kerr ’14

Dr. Candy Beal at the NC State College of Education changed my life by being a passionate powerhouse in middle grades education. Whenever I tell someone I am a middle school teacher, their first reaction is something of apology or applause. I will never forget how Dr. Beal said to respond to this situation. She said something to the effect of how it’s the best part of the job and it is a privilege to work with these young adults. She also lit the fire in me for being passionate about history and creating opportunities for students to learn and become invested in their communities. The Raleigh Trolley was by far one of the most memorable experiences of my time at the College of Ed. Thank you, Dr. Beal, for what you have done and continue to do!

From: Kari Kuebel

My teacher in graduate school was Melanie Smith. Melanie taught coursework in mentoring and coaching novice teachers, and her temperament was perfect for this important work. Melanie was- is- graceful, supportive, focused, and was able to see potential in her students. She taught me life skills, that I’ve been able to pass on to my own students, my colleagues, and everyone around me. I am deeply grateful for her mentorship.

From: Dave Huffman ’62

I had a few special ones. Burton Beers in History. His personality and lectures were just great. He would come into class on his crutches, lift himself on to the table and just bring his subject to life. Terrific man. Every student should have a professor like him.

A. Bernard R Shelly, Business Communications in the English department. What a great professor. He helped you understand which word to use when, where and why. I spent the better part of a month preparing a letter of application for a job I really wanted. I finally got it to where I liked it, and Dr. Shelly gave it the okay. I got a secretary in my department to type it for me, and I rushed to put it in the mail. Then realized I hadn’t signed it. I pleaded with the post office to let me have it back. No chance. I got the job anyway.

Baker Wynn, fantastic speech professor. He could make some of the biggest guys in school tremble. You could see their pants shaking nervously as they got to the front of the class. He didn’t cut anyone any slack. You never knew when an impromptu speech was coming your way. He helped us all. When he gave out the grades he said, “Huffman B+ should have had an A.” I said, “If Huffman should have had an A, why didn’t Huffman get an A?” He said cause you missed one speech taking your sister to the train station. It was one of his impromptu speeches. Had other students not passed when he called on them, my time wouldn’t have come up until the next class. I thought I had it covered. I have always treasured his teaching.

Then there was Professor Charlie Stott in the School of Parks and Recreation. He was tough and not loved by any I can remember. Funny though after we were out of school for a few years and some of us got together, we all agreed that in our jobs we used more of what he taught than any other instructor. On an overnight field trip to Tanglewood Park near Winston-Salem, another guy and I wrote a poem on the back of a napkin about Charlie at a watering hole that patronaged WF students. We sat out to use certain words that were important to Charlie. It’s been nearly 60 years so I have forgotten some of the lines but it went something like this:

We are Charlie’s Rangers marching through the Park.
We are Charlie’s Rangers there’s a bird in that tree ‘Hark
We are Charlie’s Rangers looking at the Pool.
We are Charlie’s Rangers ‘oh that design is Cool.
Just always remember to rendezvous on time.
Cause Charlie hates a Ranger for stepping out of line.
Now orient yourself and be among the wise
Cause Charlie likes a Ranger who can always improvise.

May not be funny now or to those who never knew him but it sure was funny then.

Another good story was one from former Senator George Wood from Camden, North Carolina. He told me he had Dr. A. M. Fountain for speech class. He was to give a speech criticizing something he didn’t like about NC State. George said he gave a speech on how bad the school alma mater was. He said he poured it on strong to get a good grade. When he finished, Dr. Fountain asked George if he knew who wrote the alma mater. George said, “No, but he must have been an idiot.” Dr. Fountain said, “Mr. Wood, I wrote the alma mater, and I assure you, you will not make an A in this class.”

There were many other good professors whose names will come to me later. Thanks for the opportunity. Dave

From: Melissa Apolonio

I will like to thank every single educator that has taught me. One teacher, who taught me for two years, helped me through every class. From classwork to homework. She is always available if one needs help or just to talk. She is energetic and her passion is to teach people. I never had a teacher who is like her. With her as my teacher, I was excited to learn. I can say she changed my life because if it wasn’t for her to tell me I can be a better student, then I don’t know what I will be doing. I’m very glad I had her as my teacher and hope she is still an educator to this day. Thank you!!

From: Ashley Suchyta

Katelyn is the hard-working, most loving and caring individual I know. She currently teaches the second grade in a very rural area with no school supplies provided. She puts her whole heart into making the lives of these kids better. She spends countless amount of hours making lesson plans and activities for her children. I do not know of a better teacher and her kids are lucky to have her as a teacher! Thanks, Katelyn!


From: Shaun Lynch

As I reflect on my educational journey over the years, I have had many teachers who have had an impact on my personal and professional life. Dr. Hal J. Daniel III was a professor at East Carolina University (ECU) and taught in the departments of Anthropology, Speech and Language Auditory Pathology, and Biology. In the Fall of 1997, he was my Anatomy and Physiology teacher and little did I know that this course would be a transformative learning experience for me. To say the least, Dr. Daniel was an interesting individual and very old school in teaching methods. He used a large chalkboard that encompassed a lecture hall holding ~150 students with the occasional use of the old school slide projector to portray images on the board. He was a traditional lecturer, engaging and entertaining, sometimes digressing into his other interest of poetry, cooking and entomophagy. He had a lot to say and spoke swiftly, my microcassette recorder joined all the others at the front of the auditorium as if he was speaking at a press conference. His examinations were legendary among the pre-health profession students, extremely difficult, 100 questions, all true/false. As a result, his course challenged me academically and stimulated my lifelong interest in studying the human body. This experience changed my whole perspective on education and would become the foundation in my career trajectory for pursuing medicine. So thank you to Dr. Daniel and every teacher out there, early childhood through post-secondary education, formal or informal, in your abilities to inspire, share knowledge and have influence in our lives.

Haley Glos with her friend and mentor Stepheny Hine

From: Haley Glos

I have been so lucky to cross paths with a teacher, Stepheny Hine, who has helped me in so many ways to become the teacher I am today. She has the most impeccable classroom management skills as well as instructional activities that she is always willing to share. Her ability to lead and run a classroom is unbelievable as she is such an eloquent, positive and energetic model for the students. She not only led her classroom last year, but she was a leader in the school and county. She organized an entire Student Leadership Conference for our students to attend that afforded them the opportunity to explore and unravel different careers and topics of their interest. Stepheny is the most selfless and passionate person that I know. She never hesitates to put herself last and others first to help them physically, mentally, and educationally. I cannot thank her enough for all that she has done for me as an educator or for our students in the past year. She deserves the world.

From: Allison Price

Ms. Holmes was my fourth-grade language arts teacher. She allowed me to be myself. I didn’t like to read and yet I loved her classroom. She helped me find ways to think outside the box and become curious about reading. I vividly remember reading in a traditional desk upside down with my head on a pillow where my [feet] should have been. I remember reading Sarah Plain and Tall and ever since then have had a strong desire to visit Maine. As I graduated college I made a point to visit her personally and tell her how much she meant to me. She retired the year I graduated. She was such a blessing.

From: Kristi Martin ’16MED

Mrs. Burns was my high school calculus teacher. Her class was really the first time I struggled with math, but she was patient and helped me to understand. I ended earning a 5 on the AP exam and going on to become a high school math teacher myself.

From: Lauren Sweetman

I wanted to thank Dr. Childs for her work as an adjunct professor. Dr. Childs challenged me as a student, and I knew when I submitted an assignment I had to be prepared to defend my research, and to this day I’m pretty sure I could recreate the presentations I used in her class nearly word for word with no prep time. She pushed me to be better. Dr. Childs is also one of the few professors I’ve had who is willing to meet out of class to help students understand the course or provide resources. When my practicum site fell through, Dr. Childs reached out to her professional contacts to see if there was anyone who needed an intern. Dr. Childs lectures are meaningful and engaging. She provides students with resources I have used for years outside of the classroom. She makes time to answer students’ questions, and she finds a way to make students’ ideas a reality. I am grateful for this professor.

Also, I wanted to thank Dr. Bolton for truly caring about his students. Dr. Bolton has a way of making complex concepts understandable. He motivates his students to do well. He brings in engaging course material, and he makes it memorable – I will never forget Dr. Bolton’s story comparing passing the baton in a race to mourning the loss of a father. I use many of the concepts and tools Dr. Bolton taught while I am counseling. I am grateful for Dr. Bolton’s teaching style, the way he cares for students, and his dedication to the counseling field.

From: Grace Flanagan

Mrs. Short,

Thank you for all you have done, continue to do, and will do in the future for so many students. You’re a glowing example of what dedication and passion for student growth looks like! You have inspired myself (and I am sure many others) to strive to become better educators and leaders! You’ve touched the lives of so many throughout your career- so, THANK YOU!

NC State Education student Kensley Ledford with her high school teacher Mrs. Handlogten.

From: Kensley Ledford

I would like to thank my high school teacher Mrs. Handlogten. Not only was she a teacher that fostered growth in me, but she mentored me in my leadership skills. She always made me feel supported in my ventures and pushed me to be the best I could be.

From: Amina Zouhri

Dear Kaitlin,

Thank you for being alongside me through this journey of educating our kids. You’ve truly opened my eyes to the vast impact we have on shaping these miniature human beings and I will forever be indebted to you. I know that educators don’t get appreciated enough so I just wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for pushing me, thank you for inspiring me, thank you for sharing in my celebrations and for being there during the hard times. You are amazing!

From: Evan Seitz ’04

Dr. Carol Pope was a terrific teacher. She was knowledgeable and skilled at her craft. What stood out the most, however, was her dedication to her students. She made us feel cared for and special. She showed me that what I thought was a weakness in my personality could really be a strength. She encouraged me to be who I was and taught me how to be confident in myself. I am now in my fifteenth year teaching middle school and I have had a lot of success. I owe so much of what I have been able to accomplish to Carol, for the kindness and love she showed me almost twenty years ago.

NC State Education student Kay Sumpter, her classmates and her teacher Ms. Sabrina Baldwin

From: Kay Sumpter

I would just like to thank my high school Early Childhood Education teacher, Mrs.Sabrina Baldwin. Mrs. Baldwin helped me find the thing I have become very passionate about: working with children. I first found my love of working with children after interning in pre-schools around the county. After interning in a second-grade elementary class, I knew this was exactly what I wanted to do. I just want to thank Mrs. Baldwin for educating me and showing me what it takes to be an amazing teacher. I want to thank her for pushing me to try new things. There’s no way I could ever thank her enough.

From: Chase Conner

Gregory Wilson was one of the best advisors I had during my time at NC State. While switching my major to Environmental Science he helped me plan and create options for my future. He always asked how I was doing and was truly interested in our lives. He introduced me to the Extension Education minor which led me to become an educator. I now teach high school science in Eastern North Carolina and was awarded a teaching fellows scholarship to receive my teaching license. Greg worked with me and helped provide guidance during my undergraduate studies. He was one of the most helpful and influential staff members that I was able to interact with while at State. I’m very thankful for the support from the College of Natural Resources and College of Education at NC State.

Linda Smith (center) and her children Bernard and Stacy


From: Stacy Smith Pittman

Dear Linda H. Smith (Mom),

Thank you for showing me throughout life to never give up on my dreams by never giving up on yours. Over the past 20 years, you have been a Certified Nursing Assistant, a Teaching Assistant and now a Teacher. You devote countless personal hours ensuring that the content that you present to your students will enable them to earn an excellent education. Not only did your resilience and tenacity encourage me to attain multiple degrees, but I see the impact that it has on my daughter and your past and present students. The world is a better place because, with love and patience, you lead by example.

From: Selena Sutton

There are numerous educators that have impacted my life and have contributed to my life as a current educator. One that stays at the forefront of my mind is Mrs. Rebecca Pate. After 40+ years, she and I remain in contact. She has encouraged me and supported my efforts as an educator by contributing to various projects to support literacy skills for elementary students.

Toria Greene ’01 and her mother and favorite educator Victoria Greene-Epps

From: Toria Greene ’01

I would like to show appreciation for my very own Mom, who is still teaching, a 31+ year educator in this state! Growing up as the children of a teacher helped my brother and me to gain insight into this noble profession and it was an honor. My Mom is truly an inspiration and she helped to inspire me to become an educator (I taught and I am now a Professional School Counselor). Her dedication and passion are truly appreciated and I am grateful for her influence in my life. I love you, Mom!

From: Maryam Khan ’13, ’17MED

Mrs. Burns,

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being the teacher who not only taught me but cared for me and loved me during my 5th-grade year. You made me feel like a somebody during my first year back in America. That made me want to become a teacher and touch other children’s lives just like you touched mine. Now, so many years later, I love being an elementary school teacher, and I owe that all to you. THANK YOU.

From: Jesse James ’05

Pat Dalton and Billy O’Steen are two educators I would like to spotlight. Both mentored and taught me during my time at NC State and both their words and teachings have influenced me as I continue to teach in New Bern, North Carolina. These two professors put people/students first and that is what I try to do in my classroom as well. They cared. They loved. They were thoughtful and kind.

From: Bria Wright

Thank you, Dr. Harrington, for encouraging me to be the best educator possible that always fights for what is best for kids.

From: Deborah Seate

My junior high and high school guidance counselors are responsible for my college education. Back in the 1960s, it was my junior high school guidance counselor who said I should be on the “college prep” track in high school. In high school, it was the guidance counselors who taught me about PSATs and SATs, as well as how to apply to colleges. In parallel with the preceding, all of my teachers made me feel valued. This was in contrast to my home life in which I received no encouragement. My degree from NC State opened doors for me that would have otherwise been closed. For this reason, I am always grateful to my guidance counselors and teachers.

From: Lauren Miron ’09

Mrs. Carrie Herstine was my fifth-grade teacher. My memories of her class include her coming into the classroom smiling and excited to be with her students each and every day. She treated me and my classmates like we were one in a million. She listened and cared for each and every one of us, she invested in us personally and pushed us farther than we ever thought we could go. I never felt more loved or appreciated during my school career. Educators like Mrs. Herstine shaped my decision to become an educator. Looking to the future, I hope my students will reflect back on my classroom and think of our time together the same way I remember my time with Mrs. Herstine. I’ll never forget Mrs. Herstine and the impact she made on me personally and professionally, and I will always be grateful for the positive learning experience she provided.

From: Jillian Murray

Beth Walker was my high school Science teacher. She taught me Earth Science, Biology, and AP Biology. I was in her classroom for 3 of my 4 years of high school! Mrs.Walker is such a joyful person and so passionate about her students that you could not help but love her and her class. She inspired me to be a Science teacher myself and I frequently think back to her joyful demeanor and try to recreate that in my own classroom. Thank you, Mrs.Walker, for making school fun and for making your students feel cared for! I hope to be just as awesome as she is. #ScienceRocks

From: Artie Newcombe

George Dunlap was my high school English teacher. He suffered from lung disease and could not walk very far without stopping to catch his breath. He taught me that though we all have physical limitations and not all of us can be star athletes, the only limitation to our learning and challenging ourselves to education is ourselves. I was not a strong student, but he motivated me to learn and read Faulkner, Shakespeare and others and enjoy it.

From: Candice Webb ’06MED

One of my college professors, Dr. Karolyn Tyson, helped me find me place and decide on a career in education. I was a sociology major and during my junior year, I enrolled in Dr. Tyson’s Sociology of Education course. It opened my eyes to the needs of people in our community, with the chief need being compassion and understanding. Her passion for sociology and for education sparked a passion in me, and since then I’ve been committed to serving my own students with compassion. I’m so thankful for her influence!

Lesley Murray and her Biology teacher Hugh Scott

From: Lesley Murray ’16

Dear Mr. Hugh Scott,

You were the absolute best teacher I ever had. I never liked science much but you made Biology so much fun! Everyone knew, including myself, that you truly cared about the well-being of your students. You wanted us to succeed. You pushed us to succeed. You cared about us and motivated us to do our very best. You held us accountable when you knew we weren’t giving our very best. I remember you would stay after school and tutor us when you had other things I am sure you would have rather been doing. You were also the best basketball coach. I am so thankful for you now as an administrator at a nearby school. Thanks for all you do!

From: M. Sue Kucik ’94

I was a middle-aged student when I was fortunate enough to have Professor Marilyn McCollum for two math classes at NC State. She made me feel welcomed at the university and encouraged me in my pursuit of a mathematics education degree.

Professor McCollum was a wonderful instructor and became a great influence on my own teaching career. She has a kind and friendly personality, but her greatest gift to me was her teaching style. She explained concepts in detail, making them easily understood. Her examples tied to applications that students could connect to the world around them to make them more meaningful.

I learned from Marilyn McCollum that you don’t have to show your students how smart you are. It’s your job to teach them how smart they can be!