Stories About the Extraordinary Educators in Your Life

Zainab Bhatti

During American Education Week, we asked our alumni, students and friends to show their appreciation for the educator who made the biggest impact on their life and to share what made them extraordinary. Read what they had to say about these extraordinary educators.
American Education Week 2019


‘He Helped Foster a Love for Science in Me’

From Storm Alexander

Mark Townley was my AP Environmental Science teacher. Not only did he teach the content, he provided resources and materials to make class fun. Labs done in class were always engaging and related to the course topics. He now works with Kenan Fellows at NC State, a program for teacher leadership. Mr. Townley was not only a very open and accepting teacher towards me, but he helped foster a love for science in me. Previously, I had been interested in arts, but had no passion. When I attended his class, Mr. Townley helped me really gain a love and interest in science, even if it wasn’t exactly his field. In the end, he helped lead me to the career path I have chosen today.


‘She Helped Me to Discover Myself as a Student’

From Elizabeth Baker

One teacher that has had a lasting impact on my life was my 6th-8th grade Language Arts teacher. She introduced me to many of my favorite books, like “The Outsiders,” and helped me to discover myself as a student. She also made me work for every assignment that I complete for her; along with this, she helped me to grow as a writer. Because of her, I discovered several joys of learning and how to start a spark of learning within my own students.


‘She Fostered a Respect and Reflected it Back to Her Students’

From Maggie Latta-Milord

My seventh grade language arts teacher was a force. She fostered a respect and reflected it back to her students. She taught diverse authors and poets to a diverse class of students. She held students to a high standard while giving us the resources and instruction needed to reach that standard. She made us recite poetry throughout the year, and I will never forget the unique challenge of having to remember each word. There is a lot from my middle school years I have forgotten, but I still remember some of those poems today. I remember that special kind of seventh-grader awkwardness we each showed as we stood in front of the class when it was our turn to stumble through a performance of that particular week’s selection. I remember the reactions of peers when you missed a line or the celebration when you really nailed it. Yet, for Ms J-W, it was never enough for us to repeat exactly the words of the poem. We were meant to convey the emotion, meant to hold the words with reverence.


‘She Changed the Way That I Carried Myself Through Life’

From Taylor Ratledge

My high school chorus teacher, Heather Copley, changed the way that I carried myself through life. Even though my career has nothing to do with performance, taking her class taught me about self-discipline, taking risks, and making friends.

On my future best friend’s first day at a new school, Ms. Copley grabbed me and told me that I was sitting with the new girl during lunch because she didn’t want her eating alone. From that day on, we had lunch together every day. I was the maid of honor at her wedding, which Ms. Copley attended.

Ms. Copley has always had an amazing way of making you feel important because she gives her students an incredible amount of responsibility and trusts them to do what is right. For example, she takes huge groups of students on international field trips regularly, which, as a high school teacher, I can’t ever imagine doing.

Finally, Ms. Copley has always been honest about who she is and what she stands for. I have maintained a relationship with her since graduating high school in 2007, and she’s never changed. I tutored her son, she attended my wedding, and we like to get lunch during the holidays. I appreciate so much how she pours into her relationships with her students and continues those relationships as long as she can.


‘Her Course Impacted Me by Showing Me How Important it is to Maintain and Value Your Personal Ethics’

From The’Shaun Jones

Carrol Warren is one of the extraordinary educators from NC State’s Education Department that I would like to to acknowledge. What makes her extraordinary is her knowledge and expertise of Ethics in the Workplace and Education. This was the first course I took from the Training and Development Master’s of Education Program, and it was the perfect class to begin my Graduate tenure. This course impacted me by showing me how important it is to maintain and value your personal ethics and to carry those morals into your professional development. Thanks Dr. Warren.


‘She Instilled a Love for Spanish in Me’

From Nicole Hackett

My favorite teacher in high school was Sra. Hammond. I had her for Spanish 4 and I loved her so much that I decided I wanted to become a Spanish teacher just like her – and I did! She instilled a love for Spanish in me that I wanted to share with all my students. My fondest memories in her class are Fridays where we would listen to Shakira in Spanish! I taught Spanish for 9 years because of Sra. Hammond.


Milton Bliss

‘He Instilled in Me and My Brother a Lifelong Appreciation of Music and Culture That Enriches Us to this Day’

From Larry Bliss

I have an extraordinary educator in my family: my father, Milton C. Bliss. He taught music at NC State for 26 years, leading the Varsity Men’s Glee Club and the Grains of Time a capella group, as well as co-directing the marching band. He expected the utmost from his students, and many of them went on to careers in music as performers and teachers. He instilled in me and my brother (both State grads) a lifelong appreciation of music and culture that enriches us to this day. Although he is 92, he remembers many of his students from 50 years ago.


‘Her Passion for Science was Infectious and I Give all the Credit to Her for Why I Decided to Become a Science Teacher’

From Kristen Blau

An extraordinary educator I know is Heidi Maloy, my high school biology, chemistry, & APES teacher. She is still the best teacher I’ve ever had the pleasure of learning from. She was patient, kind, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable, always able to answer any question I asked. I was lucky enough to be able to take three courses with her throughout high school. AP Environmental Science was my favorite, and taking that course with her is largely why I am so passionate about environmental advocacy and literacy. I am presently working on becoming a certified Environmental Educator. Her passion for science was infectious and I give all the credit to her for why I decided to become a science teacher. My ultimate goal as a teacher is to inspire young people to want to make a difference in the world and in other people’s lives. That is what Ms. Maloy did for me. Beyond teaching me science, she was also my advisor senior year. She was a great listener and was always there for me when I needed someone to talk to or needed advice. I will be forever grateful for getting to have her as a teacher. She is truly one of a kind.


‘They Were in Education Because They Cared About the Students’

From Anna Burgess

When thinking about the past educators in my life who have really impacted me and my time in school, two people come to mind. First is my junior and senior English teacher. She was an extraordinary educator because she was willing to answer hard questions and have difficult conversations in the classroom. She didn’t shy away from questions about the real world and actually welcomed them at times. She also made it known that she would accept her students for who they are, she was not going to judge you, but instead wanted to help. She helped give me new perspectives on life. She taught me how to put myself in the other person’s shoes and to look for the deeper meaning in things. The second teacher that came to my mind was my chorus teacher. I was a part of his class all four years of high school. He was always encouraging us to do our best and had high expectations for us in both academics and just in being an overall human being. He was supportive and made it known that he was there if anyone needed to talk or just have a place to escape. He helped me build my confidence in not only my voice but also in who I am as a person. Both of these educators are extraordinary because they made it very obvious that they were in education because they cared about the students, not about checking a “how to be a good person” box off their checklist.


‘I Wouldn’t Be Where I Am Today Without Them’

From Megan North

I am a high school history teacher because of my 8th grade and 11th grade history teachers. They showed me how to love learning, help others, and hold students to high standards. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.


‘She Impacted My Life Through Her Encouragement, Her Passion and Her Leadership’

From Emma Schneider

Mrs. Sanders is extraordinary because she not only cares about the education of every one of her students, but she truly cares about every one of her students as an individual. She is relational, yet demands respect. She is intelligent, yet knows how to make class fun. She knows how to communicate tough ideas to a variety of different learners and help them understand at a deeper level. Mrs. Sanders helps others do the extraordinary by expressing genuine interest in their lives and pushing them toward their passions. She is the reason I applied for (and received) acceptance to the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program. The more I learn about incorporating digital tools in the classroom and navigating keeping students engaged in a lesson, the more I realize how ahead of the game Mrs. Sanders was in these areas. I never suffered boredom in her class, and she was always using some sort of digital tool in her lessons that continue to benefit me in my teacher education. She impacted my life through her encouragement, her passion, and her leadership, and I will always be grateful for her influence.


‘She Can Challenge AP Students and Support Struggling Students’

From Kristi Martin

I taught with June Blackwell at Sanderson High School for a year and I was consistently amazed by her. She can challenge AP students and support struggling students. She works so hard to reach all her students and help them to be successful in her math classes, using a variety of strategies to allow all her students to showcase what they have learned. She also supports teachers at the state level and has mentored multiple student teachers from NC State. I am proud to call her a colleague and friend.


‘I Realized I Wanted to Have the Same Impact on People’s Lives that He Had on Mine’

From Michael Smith

Mr. Hunsucker was my 8th grade math and science teacher. He was such a caring person who treated his students like we were his own children. His lessons, activities, and projects also took what we learned in the classroom outside the classroom. It was in Mr. Hunsucker’s class that I began to see how what I learned in school really effected my everyday life. When I was deciding what I wanted to do in life I realized I wanted to have the same impact on peoples’ lives that Mr. Hunsucker had on mine. If it was not for Mr. Hunsucker I would not have gotten into education. I owe so much to Mr Hunsucker he is hands down the best teacher in the world.


‘I Can Still Remember His Smile and Love for all of Biology’

From Manny Flecker

Robert Tollman was my high school biology teacher in New York. He continually made the subject fascinating for me and drew me into it with his clearly apparent love of biology. He encouraged us to read, did not slay us with “homework”, kept his classes upbeat and showed an interest in his students and subject. He encouraged me though did not push – not his style. I can still remember his smile and love for all of biology.


‘She Made Learning a Challenging Subject Rewarding’

From Dorothy Holley

An extraordinary educator in my life has been my high school chemistry teacher, Lavonda Ritchie. She made learning a challenging subject rewarding. She modeled being a life-long learner, bringing back new labs from summer “vacations,” participating in new competitions that seemed interesting, and engaging in new experiences while encouraging us to do the same. After I graduated from college and became a high school chemistry teacher in a nearby county, Ms. Ritchie continued to mentor me by loaning me equipment to use with my students and inviting me to NCSTA events. I will always be indebted to Ms. Ritchie for nurturing my love of science and for believing that the quiet girl in the back of the room could really cook with that bunsen burner! Thank you Ms. Ritchie!!


Zainab Bhatti

‘Her Passion for Education is the Reason Why I Have a Voice for Public Education’

From Zainab Bhatti

I have had several educators in life who have made a positive impact in my life. Today, I will be talking about one specific educator who changed my life for the better. I knew I wanted to be a teacher since the second grade. However, I was constantly discouraged by my teachers and family because I could amount to so much more and of course, the number one excuse, the pay is terrible. In my sophomore year of high school, I met my forever mentor. Mrs. Suzanne Hudson was my civics and economics teacher at the time. We learned so much more than just that subject. She taught us something I will never forget. Do what you want to do as long as it makes you happy. After that, I had Mrs. Hudson every year until the day I graduated. Mrs. Hudson was also my AP government teacher and Teacher Cadet 1 & 2 teacher. I also interned for Mrs. Hudson my senior year. I learned to love what I will be doing and not caring what other people think. The creativity in her classrooms is what inspired me to start my love for art again. Without the guidance, unconditional love, and support from her, I would not be here in the college of education at NC State. I would be lost trying to figure out what it is I should be doing. I am so thankful for everything I have learned from her. Mrs. Hudson is extraordinary in everything she does. Her passion rubs off on her students and it shows. We are always inspired by her stories to do the extraordinary in everything we work on. Her love for education is the reason why I am here today. Her passion for education is the reason why I have a voice for public education. I am extraordinary.


‘He Consistently Showed That He Cared Even More About Me as an Individual Than He Did as a Student’

From Spencer Griffith

Ben Thomas for AP Government my senior year of high school and the way he interacted with students has tremendously influenced my teaching. He had great content-area knowledge and knew how to make class engaging (I’ll never forget our class-wide debates every week), but more importantly, he consistently showed that he cared even more about me as an individual than he did as a student. As an aside, he allowed me to miss class to volunteer in his wife’s first grade class once per week, which showed me early on that I was NOT cut out to be an elementary school teacher.


‘She Distinguished Herself with a Very Compassionate Heart and Patience for Young Children’

From Kari Kuebel

I had the privilege of having Olivia Loftin Ellington as a student in Elementary Ed 250 years before she became my daughter’s kindergarten teacher (and now my son’s!) Olivia was a gifted student, distinguishing herself with a very compassionate heart and patience for young children. She launched my daughter into a love of school by treating her as a unique person with her own set of gifts, thoughts and even worries. This demonstration of unconditional positive regard with high expectations has traveled with my daughter throughout her schooling, and she is now excelling in third grade, due in a large part to Olivia. THANK YOU.


‘She Challenged and Encouraged Me to Rise and Exceed the Expectations Put on Me’

From Lydia Stocks

Mrs. Wheless was an extraordinary educator! As a fourth grader she saw in me potential that no one else had. She challenged and encouraged me to rise to and exceed the expectations put on me academically – specifically in the writing content area. Eventually, I’d recognize her as a primary reason to become an educator myself!


‘She Inspired Me to Be a teacher Because I Wanted to Be Just Like Her’

From Susan Beasley

I have had the privilege of engaging with many extraordinary educators in my life, as both a student and now a teacher. The most extraordinary though, has been my mother. She received a degree in Business Education from UNCG and was a public high school teacher with Greensboro City Schools and Guilford County Schools for over 30 years. Following her retirement from Guilford County, she continues to teach continuing education courses through GTCC. While I was never a student in her school classroom, I was (and still am) a student in her “classroom of life.” My mom is amazing. She always encouraged me to do my best, helped me through the struggles, and celebrated my successes. I also have had the opportunity to know some of the students she did have in class, and they always told me how much they loved her classes. She always cares and puts the needs of others first. She inspired me to be a teacher because I wanted to be just like her!


‘She Believes in Her Students When They Don’t Believe in Themselves’

From Devon Rose

Dr. Candy Beal is an extraordinary educator. She is kind, caring, and patient. She believes in her students when they don’t believe in themselves. She is encouraging and pushes her students to be the very best they can be. She gives practical, realistic advice to her students that we can then give to our own students. I wouldn’t be the educator I am today if it weren’t for Dr. Beal’s steadfast kindness and grace.


‘She Motivated Me to Want to Better Myself, Especially in My Education’

From Grace McGovern

My teacher in high school was one of the most memorable educators I have ever had. I was very unmotivated to “try” in school because other students had been bullying me. When Mrs. Barber came, she came with an infectious energy and took me under her wing. She motivated me to want to better myself, especially in my education. I still keep in contact with her and now I am in school to become a teacher.


‘She Has Impacted My Life by Inspiring Me to Become a Teacher Myself and Making Me Feel Proud About the Art I Created’

From Sophie Moffatt

The most extraordinary educator in my life was my art teacher from high school. I was lucky enough to have her all 4 years so she really helped me grow as a student and a person, while also fostering my passion for art. She became a constant throughout my high school career and she was a personable and trusting adult figure in my life. She was unlike other teachers I’ve had because she fully put her students first and made sure that her classroom was a welcoming and accepting environment for everyone that came in her door. I admire her teaching style based on discussion and feedback, while also empowering one another. She helps others be extraordinary by making students feel proud of the work they accomplish and creating personal connections so the students knew she cared and wanted only the best for us. She has impacted my life in many ways, by inspiring me to become a teacher myself and also making me feel so proud about the art I created. She made her class a safe space for me and made art feel like home and a way to cope with stress or emotions. I cannot thank her enough for how she has transformed me as a student, artist and person.


‘I Want to Run My Classroom the Way She Ran Hers’

From Garin Sinkovic

My second-grade teacher Ms. Clifton was the best teacher I’ve ever had. I was lucky enough that she ended up moving up to third-grade the following year so I had her for two years in a row. What I loved about her was that she made learning fun. I always enjoyed coming to school every day and I always had fun in class while still learning the material. She is the reason that I want to become an elementary school teacher. I want learning to be fun, I want my kids to enjoy coming to school every day and I want to be the cool teacher that all the kids want to be around during the school day. Ms. Clifton embodied all those qualities of kindness, passionate, dedicated, and was so much fun. I want to run my classroom the way Ms. Clifton ran hers.


Lexi Chadwick

‘She Pushed Me to Become the Best Version of Myself’

From Lexi Chadwick

My seventh and eight grade social studies and language arts teacher was amazing. She saw my potential in my life when it came to reading and writing and she pushed me to to become the best version of myself. Not only was she an amazing educator, but she then became an important mentor in my life. I don’t think I would have been able to navigate the rest of middle school without her being there for me through the ups and downs. Mrs. Glow – you are an inspiration to this world and especially to me.


‘She Makes Every Student Feel Like a True Scientist and That They Can Be Anything They Wish to Be’

From McKenzie Alford

My extraordinary educator is Mrs. Jessica Potter, a biology teacher at East Wake Academy in Zebulon, NC. She has always been a teacher to push students to do their best. She always has a smile on her face for her current and former students when they come to visit. She teaches academic/honors/AP biology so she really knows her stuff but her humbleness shines through it all. She makes every student feel like a true scientist and that they can be anything they wish to be. She honestly is the person who inspired me to become a science teacher. She has helped me even in my college years understand science topics, lesson plans, mental health plans, and overall the beautiful chaos that come with the job of teaching. She is and always will the most extraordinary teacher that has impacted my life.


‘She Invested in Me Away from the Classroom’

From Kentellia Wingate

My 1st grade teacher, Ms. Gail Hutchinson is my EXTRAordinary educator! She taught me to keep working hard, even when learning new things was challenging. She also invested in me away from the classroom. One of my fondest memories of Ms. Hutchinson is that she found me during my senior year of high school. She took me to dinner and  bought the dress that I wore to graduation. I am thankful for her role in my educational foundation, which contributed to my academic success, and eventually allowed me to be a Teaching Fellow at NC State! I am currently in my 17th year as an educator. c/o ‘03


‘She Ignited a Passion for Reading in Me and Showed Me a few Books That Have had a Profound Impact on my Life’

From Eric Wylie

The most extraordinary educator in my life was my 5th grade teacher, Ms Clabbatz. She stressed reading, literature, and comprehension more than anything else and showed us how, through sufficient reading abilities, we could teach ourselves anything. She ignited a passion for reading in me and showed me a few books that have had a profound impact on my life. She also was extremely encouraging and was really good at forming relationships with each and every student in the class. If anyone was ever struggling, she was able to give them the support they needed to understand the concept without neglecting the rest of the class. She’s definitely my role model as I pursue becoming an elementary teacher in the WCPSS.


‘I Don’t Know How He Does it All’

From Jennifer Lancaster

Dr. James Bartlett of NC State mentored our entire doctoral cohort in the most extraordinary way. He took us to conferences, co-presented with us, co-wrote papers and articles with us, gave us career advice, and continues to be in touch with us about upcoming opportunities. Dr. Bartlett does so much in the field of career and technical education as well as in adult and community college education. I don’t know how he does it all!


“Without Her Knowledge and Love of Her Career, I Would Never Have Made it This Far or Have the Drive That I Do’

From Marsha Creekmore

When we had our son he was diagnosed at a young age with autism. Over the years he has had so many amazing teachers to help support him and us as a family grow. The educator that has made the biggest impact was his early intervention educator. Without her knowledge and love for her career I would never have made it this far or have the drive that I do. Thank you Megan Haley.


‘She Pushed Me to Go Beyond Just Learning for School to Learning for Life and Being a Leader’

From Ashley Atkinson

Extraordinary teachers push you to grow and go beyond even your own expectations of yourself. My third-grade teacher, Mrs. Drake, pushed me to go beyond just learning for school to learning for life and being a leader. She provided me with books and enrichment that allowed me to go beyond the content requirements and learn for the sake of learning. When I expressed an interest in architecture she helped me gather resources to learn and then helped me lead a walking tour of our community architecture sharing with my classmates. She helped me own my learning and share it with others. She inspired me to become a teacher.


‘Her Positive Attitude Encourages Me Everyday to Be the Same Way to My Students’

From Brooke Gupton

I had a first grader teacher who inspired me to become a teacher. She was kind, caring, and was always happy to be a teacher. When I had fallen on the playground, I ran over to her and she had asked me if I was still going to be able to swim (because I was taking swim lessons). The fact that she remembered that small detail about me, it showed that she cared. Her positive attitude encourages me everyday to be the same to my students!


‘Her Compassion for Herself and Her Peers was Evident’

From Tracey Gardner

As an undergraduate accounting student at UNC-Charlotte, I had a political science professor named Dr. Cheryl Brown. I only had her for one class, but she was truly extraordinary.

What made her extraordinary was that she brought her own experiences from when she was as a young Black woman into the classroom and painted pictures for us of how the political landscape impacted her and her friends. Her compassion for herself and her peers was evident.  This made the class much more vivid and showed me, at a young age, how laws make a difference in Americans’ lives.

Now, as a M.Ed. student in school counseling at NC State, I think about Dr. Brown as my cohort looks at the concept of self-disclosure. When done well, self-disclosure is an extremely powerful tool for connection and teaching. – Tracey Gardner, M.Ed. 2021


‘He Really Inspired Me to Come to NC State’

From Giovanny Hernandez

An extraordinary educator that I have encountered has to be Mr. Martin. He is an NC State Alumni that was teaching math at my high school, who really inspired me to come to NC State as I wanted to be a great educator like him. He just made sure that everyone in the class was up to par on the lesson and took the time to help the students that were falling behind.


‘I Will Never Forget That Wonderful Year of Honors Senior British Literature’

From Robert Williams

When I was in high school I had an English teacher by the name of William Loftin Hargrave III. He was a disarmingly charming elderly gentleman who had served in the military working on computer systems in helicopters. This man was an uncoronated king of British lit.

Sometimes you meet people you just know could have been famous stage actors, well Mr. Hargrave should have been on a stage somewhere with his incredible knowledge of Shakespeare and similar works. But instead, he had a lively classroom where he would encourage us to bring the characters to life and attempt to read between the lines to really figure out what the characters, or even Shakespeare, was trying to say. All the classroom was a stage.

Mr. Hargrave taught us so much about human nature and expression and gave that informal permission so many closeted writers and dramatists need to let their freak flags fly and truly explore themselves through writing. I will never forget that wonderful year of Honors Senior British Literature.”


‘He Was a Model of the Math Teacher That I Became’

From Marc Kasten

My teacher, Mr. Tom Taylor, of Avery County High School, is a great example of an educator. For three years, I took math courses with him, and he put up with my terrible notebooks and homework assignments. Mr. Taylor took the time to get to know all of his students. He was willing to go off-book to make math interesting, and he was a model of the math teacher that I became.


‘He is Committed to Being Available Within a Demanding Schedule of Classes, Meetings and Supporting Other Students’

From Curtis Brower

Dr. Timothy Drake has been an extraordinary dissertation chair. He has been extremely helpful through the research and writing process. He is very responsive and is always willing to provide prompt feedback. Dr. Drake has been committed to meeting with me on a regular ongoing basis providing support and guidance. Dr. Drake is committed to being available within a demanding schedule of classes, meetings, and supporting other students. I am very appreciative of his commitment to help me succeed.


‘He Affirmed My Talents as a Student and Future Leader’

From Kimberly Kemp

Dr. Rick Taylor at ECU is a professor in the English Department at ECU and taught several of my classes in my master’s program there. He was the first person to make me believe I could go beyond getting my master’s degree. Not only did he lead by example by sharing his stories, but he kindled a curiosity that led to me pursuing more information about the doctoral program that led me to NCSU. He affirmed my talents as a student and future leader.


‘She Showed Me How Fun and Exciting Education Can Be’

From Molly Feezor

I know an educator that makes all students feel loved. You never walk into her classroom and have to think about whether or not she wants you there. She validates your concerns and struggles as a student but pushes you to go further and do your best, and is happy with whatever your best is as long as it’s your best. This educator supported us in our endeavors and always encouraged greatness. As middle schoolers and later high schoolers, this teacher was always the first person you wanted to go to for advice, validation, encouragement, or just for a smile. She taught the sixth grade but never stopped considering us to be her students. She was the first person we went to when we moved to high school and she was the first person that we went back to visit before graduating high school. This teacher showed me how fun and exciting education can be and that feeling loved in your school is a vital part of your success as a student.


‘She Not Only Taught but She Helped Me Live’

From Anne Johnson

I have had many different teachers for different subjects. What makes Mrs. Paul extraordinary is that she not only taught but she helped me live. As a previous early college student, balancing the act of college classes and high school classes is difficult, but having a teacher who tries to helps everyone excel at both, along with being able to talk through the stresses of life with them, is a blessing. Thank you Mrs. Paul, for helping me get into the Pack!


‘She Had the Ability to Make Literature Come Alive’

From Shannon Clemons

I have had so many great educators in my life. Mrs. Betty Blackburn was my senior English teacher. Mrs. Blackburn made me love literature to the point that I briefly though about majoring in English Education instead of Science Education. I moved forward with science, however, Mrs. Blackburn had the ability to make literature come alive. As a classroom teacher, I desired to make learning come alive for students. It was important to not just teach, but to make learning meaningful. When I became a principal in Catawba County, Mrs. Blackburn had retired from teaching, but served on the county school board. She still remembered me and talked about the joy of having me in her class. She encouraged me and was a source of support. Mrs. Blackburn has now retired from the school board. I keep up with her through Facebook. She still comments on pictures that I post and does the same with the many students she has taught. Betty Blackburn’s influence and impact did not stop after the time spent in her classroom. I still receive her encouraging words through social media. She is still loved and adored by so many of her former students, including me.


‘He Brought Us Into His Own Journey as a Student’

From Matthew Henry

I was a junior in high school. Flint, Michigan. My math teacher that year was Sven Anderson who ultimately influenced my path to become a teacher. Sven had a relaxed classroom approach that made even the most math-anxious student feel at ease. His calm, nurturing demeanor was completely infectious in the classroom. One thing in particular about him that struck me was that he brought us into his own journey as a student. At the time, he was doing graduate work at the University of Michigan. As we struggled in his class, he told about his graduate class struggles — but not in the condescending and finger-wagging “oh, you think you have it hard?” way that other teachers did. Instead, he let us see him as a human being, and not the facade of the infallible adult that so many other teachers created over my years. That, and his laid back personality created a sense of interdependence in his classroom — like we were all in things together, just at different levels of skill and complexity. That ability to connect to students on a human level has guided my own teaching practice — always stay grounded and don’t be afraid to let students see and know the person behind the facade.


‘They Believe That All Students are Capable of Success’

From Catie Acitelli

I taught high school math for six years prior to coming back to NC State to pursue a PhD in mathematics. And during my six years teaching in the Charlotte area, I worked alongside the most incredible educators. The math department at Providence High School was (and still is) doing great work. They work well together to deliver exceptional educational experiences to students of all backgrounds; they meet students where they’re at and push them to realize their potential; they support students in their extra curricular activities and get to know students as individuals; they believe that all students are capable of success, and they treat everyone with that respect. The math team at PHS left a great impression on me, as I am constantly encouraged by them as educators.


‘He Worked Tirelessly to Ensure the Success of His Students’

From Jana Hunter

My high school agriculture teacher was a truly extraordinary educator. He worked tirelessly to ensure the success of his students, his school, and his FFA chapter. He saw my leadership potential and gave me the opportunity to serve as chairman for our Parliamentary Procedure team — a role that led my teammates and I to compete at the National FFA Convention this October. Three years later, I have also chosen to pursue a career in agricultural education — a decision that I never would have considered without the unmatched influence that this educator had on my life.


‘She Has Always Believed in Me and Has Always Been a Strong Influence in My Life’

From Brittany Kennon

My fourth grade teacher Mrs. Dana Bottomley was an extraordinary educator for me and she continues to be extraordinary for her students today. She was always organized and on top of everything, she put together really fun lesson plans, she was always in a positive mood, and she always encouraged us to do our best. She has always believed in me and has always been a strong influence in my life. I consider her to be one of my greatest role models. She’s a really close friend of mine now and we stay in touch. She even has been to a lot of my family events, like my Baptism a few years ago! I think what makes her stand out from the rest of my teachers is her love for not only me but for all of her students and how she is always supportive of us even outside of the classroom. She was my teacher almost ten years ago and she still holds that special place in my heart.


‘She Instilled a Deep Love of Reading and Learning in Me That Never Really Left’

From Whitney White

The most extraordinary educator I ever had was my first-grade teacher at Union Elementary School in Shallotte, NC. Her name is Amy Watkins, and she instilled a deep love of reading and learning in me that never really left. All throughout my K-12 education, when I thought about what I wanted to do with my life, I knew I wanted to be a teacher like Ms. Amy. She taught us how to take pride in ourselves, how to work together, and how finding just the right book can take you to another dimension.

I had many other amazing teachers who taught more rigorous content than what I learned in Ms. Amy’s class, but none of that compared to the love and nurturing that she provided. It was because of her that, as a teacher, I understood why developing relationships was so essential.

The best part is, I still see Ms. Amy every time I go home to visit my family — and I still remind her of what a difference she made in my life almost 30 years ago.


‘She’s So Caring and Shows Kindness in Every Aspect’

From Andreas Jordan

My teaching as a profession teacher, Mrs. McClannon has impacted my life in so many ways because she’s so caring and shows kindness in every aspect. She checks in with her students everyday and constantly gets to know us personally. She shows extraordinary compassion to her teaching and helps you when you need it! Now that’s an extraordinary educator!


‘She Connected With Us as Learners. More Importantly, She Believed in Us. She Believed in Me’

From Cris Charbonneau

My younger kids asked me if I had class pets in school – as in a dinosaur. According to my third and fifth grader, the best teachers are the ones that have class pets. I dug out a picture of my third grade class picture. Looking at our class photo made me laugh. There I was: sandwiched between a bunny and a chicken. Funny, right? But it was the perfect visual description of my class.

My third-grade teacher passed away. Clara Barefoot Sehorn. That was her name. And as third graders, you can imagine the smirks and the giggles when we learned her middle name. But she didn’t care. She was proud of her name; her heritage; who she was. At a time when, as seven and eight year olds, we were just learning about the world outside our own backyards, and for me, a first-generation Filipino living in a very homogenous community, she helped us embrace our differences. Learning and working with others was a lesson that I’ve kept with me all through life.

Our classroom smelled a bit earthy. The window sills were lined with drying clay pinch pots. Paint brushes saturated with purple, green, and yellow glaze were soaking in the sink. In the back, was our beloved “Nest” – a reading corner piled with big pillows and books, inviting for any student to read, or rest our eyes, or, as Ms. Sehorn always encouraged us, to sit in the nest and “day dream something wonderful, then bring it to life.”

We kept a chicken that laid eggs, incubated them and hatched them. We documented it all. We fed them from droppers and learned about the cycle of life and where our food comes from.

Ms. Sehorn was different from the other teachers in the building. Lessons didn’t seem timed. The entire day seemed to flow. We’d take walks along the path in between the school and the neighboring property where they kept horses. Thistles lined the path. Mount Saint Helen’s ash was still present. We picked up earth worms, potato bugs, dug up rock, clay, dirt, and soil. We composted and created our own garden. Everyone contributed. Every student felt a sense of ownership: a sense of pride in the things we dreamed up and created.

That spring, President Ronald Reagan was assassinated … or so we worried. Our classroom gathered and watched in horror the news reports on the big roll-in tube-TV on a cart. There were very few TVs at our school, but Ms. Sehorn insisted the importance of understanding what had happened. She was emotional. She was concerned. She talked about the importance of the office of the President; I remembered she said, “Even if I don’t agree with him, I respect the position of leadership.” She talked about guns and mental illness. Ms. Sehorn was honest and forthright. She took every moment to help open up our minds, consider the facts, learn to voice our thoughts, and formulate an opinion.

I remember her beautiful smile; her energetic voice; her quick movements throughout the room. I can still feel the twinkle in her eye when she saw the spark in mine. Ms. Sehorn created a spark of curiosity with her experiential learning environment. She encouraged a creative spirit and desire to shine with bright colors amongst a sea of gray. She connected with us as learners. More importantly, she believed in us. She believed in me.”


‘They Not Only Made Math Bearable for Me, but Helped Me to Gain an Appreciation and Enjoyment of the Subject’

From Beth Gehringer

Because there are too many extraordinary educators that have impacted my life, I have to choose the two that gave me the greatest appreciation for learning. Two of my high school math teachers not only made math bearable for me, but helped me to gain an appreciation and enjoyment of the subject. Not only that, but because they impacted me so much, it has encouraged me to do the same for others, therefore why I am choosing to pursue a career in education.


‘She Has a Huge Heart for Education and That Showed in Every Single Thing She Did and Said’

From Jade Smith

Carol Pope is one of the educators that stands out most to me when I think back on my time at NC State in the Middle Grades Ed program. She’s the most patient educator. She was always able to make her teaching relatable, ensuring that we had real life experiences because there is no teacher like first hand experience. She planned for us to put our practice into real life by partnering our class with a middle school class at Centennial Campus Middle School. She always gave us constructive criticism in a way that made us want to grow and learn and be better teachers. She has a huge heart for education and that showed in every single thing she did and said.


‘I Hope to Become an Educator in a Student’s Life That He Was for Me’

From Nicole Renwick

Coach Starr has been the most extraordinary educator in my life! He was a first grade teacher and my high school cross country coach! Over the years, Coach Starr is become a second dad for me! With my parents being divorced and my dad not always supporting me in cross country and my decision to pursue a career in education, having Coach Starr in my life was one of the biggest blessings! One of the most meaningful memories I have of Coach Starr is after a high school cross country meet when my dad pulled me out of the meet so I couldn’t run and I left the meet in tears because being a part of the cross country team was one of my favorite things about high school and I felt like I had let my team down. However, that night he called me to make sure I was okay and ensured me that I had not let the team down, that it was out of my control, and the team was there to support me through the challenge I was dealing with!

Coach Starr has also been the biggest supporter of me choosing a career in education. I have called him for countless interviews on what it means to be a coach and a first grade teacher, has provided me with my entire future classroom library of over 500 books, and he frequently checks up on how my field placement is going.

After I graduate in a few short months, I hope to become an educator in a student’s life that Coach Starr was for me! I hope to put relationships first and be my student’s biggest supporters!


‘I Can’t Thank Her Enough for the Care and Support She Provides Each and Every Student’

From Samir Patel

When I was an undergrad in the College of Education, I had many different professors that truly cared for our growth. One professor that stood out the most was Dr. Edgington.

Dr. Edgington stood out the most because of her passion and commitment to making sure her students could become the best teachers they possibly could. You could tell that every detail that went into a lecture was on purpose and throughout. The classes were engaging and interactive and you actively felt like you were learning.

The experiences I had in Dr. Edgington’s class are the ones that I’ll carry over to any career that I take. I often still use these experiences and insights currently in grad school. I can’t thank Dr. Edgington enough for the care and support she provides each and every student.


‘He is a Visionary, Child Advocate and Does What is Best for Students’

From Debby Woodard

My extraordinary educator is Dr. Rodney Peterson. Dr. Peterson is a visionary, child advocate and does what is best for students. When my son was transitioning from 5th grade to 6th grade he was moving from his home school to Dr. Peterson’s school. At his home school based on the bias recommendation of a 5th grade teacher he was recommended for remedial math classes. Dr. Peterson met with my son and looked at his test scores and ability. My son was placed in an Advanced Math Course. Dr. Peterson said give him a chance to show you what he can do. Because of that decision and Dr. Peterson taking a chance on my son he is now a Dual Major of Forensic Biology and Criminal Justice at Western Carolina University and possibly a Law Degree at Campbell University. He earned a Pharmacy Tech Certification so he could work as as a Pharmacy Tech during college. Dr. Peterson was the person who said, “Give him a chance to show you what he can do and believed in my son.” I will forever be grateful to Dr. Peterson. Without Dr. Peterson my son’s journey would be so much different. I thank GOD for placing Dr. Person as my son’s principal and owe part of his success to the forward thinking by Dr. Peterson.


‘She Provided an Outlet for Me to Express How I Was Feeling’

From Amy Choi

The extraordinary educator in my life was my ninth grade English teacher, Ms. Gilliam. At a time in my life when everything seemed so confusing and scary, she provided an outlet for me to express how I was feeling through our daily journals that we would write in little composition books and she would always respond back to me. It wasn’t just that it was feedback on my writing but it was that she was actually reading what I was going through and hearing me. It didn’t feel so lonely when I knew that Ms. Gilliam was reading and understanding me. I took this trait with me through the years and now I am a history teacher and I also have my students write daily journals, usually reflections, and I always make sure to make personal, individualized comments to each student on their work. All high schoolers want is to be heard. I am thankful to Ms. Gilliam for showing me that.


‘I Am Truly Humbled by all the Opportunities That Our Professors Provide Us With’

From Nada Wafa

I really enjoy working with our amazing professors and educators at the College of Education. As a research assistant, I am truly humbled by all the opportunities that our professors provide us with. I’ve recently worked on preparing the event, Dessert with Democracy, with an amazing educator, professor, mentor, and friend, Dr. Paula McAvoy. It’s been a true honor working with her. It was a very fulfilling experience knowing that we had done something so wonderful and so great in allowing others to navigate through dialogues and discussions about contemporary issues happening in the US. I look forward to continuing to work alongside wonderful educators in our College of Education.


‘Her Commitment to Developing the Next Generation of Community College Leaders is Apparent’

From Ashley Swing

The faculty of the Adult and Community College education program have been excellent and has provided a lot of great hands-on experiences for our cohort. My chair, Dr. Audrey Jaeger, is especially amazing and always available to help and suggest. She really takes the time to connect with her students and help as often as needed. Her commitment to developing the next generation of community college leaders is apparent.