Award-Winning Alumni: Educators Edition
The work of a UNC Asheville student doesn’t stop when they graduate—it’s just beginning. Our alumni go on to tackle the big challenges of today’s society, making real differences in their fields and communities. This year several of our graduates from the Education Department have been celebrated by their schools for their outstanding work and contributions.
Ariel Robinson ’09: Asheville City Schools Teacher of the Year
Ariel Robinson ’09, now an English teacher at the School of Inquiry and Life Sciences at Asheville (SILSA), was named Asheville City Schools’ Teacher of the Year for 2016-17. Robinson’s experience, continuing education, participation in community and school activities, and innovative approach in curricular areas earned her the honor. She’s been teaching at SILSA for three years, after spending five years teaching in Madison and Rutherford counties.
"Ms. Robinson is the rarest of individual," SILSA Principal David Robinson wrote to the selection committee. "She is knowledgeable and experienced, yet never complacent and always looking for how she might improve her practice."
“I came in to the university at full-steam, desiring, more than anything else, to become an English teacher,” said Robinson, who was part of the Teaching Fellows program, as well as being a double major in English and drama.
“Not only did Teaching Fellows at UNC Asheville cultivate a teacher in me, but it taught me compassion, dedication, worldliness, and camaraderie,” Robinson said. “I cannot say enough about the Teaching Fellows program and all of my education, theater, and literature professors at UNC Asheville. They have molded me into the person I am today, and I am proud of every minute I spent there.”
Doris Sellers ’88: Buncombe County Schools’ Principal of the Year
Doris Sellers ’88 was selected by her peers as Buncombe County Schools’ Principal of the Year for 2017. Sellers has been the principal at Reynolds High School since 2011.
“I am surprised and humbled to represent our amazing school leadership, which I genuinely believe are among the best in the state,” Sellers said in a news release. “When I reflect upon the exceptional caliber of leaders in our school system who unselfishly commit themselves to their students in Buncombe County Schools, I am honored to be recognized as this year’s Principal of the Year by my colleagues.”
Heather Houser ’03: Lincoln County Schools Principal of the Year
Heather Houser ‘03 has been principal of Union Elementary School since 2011, and this year she was named Principal of the Year for Lincoln County Schools. She also led Union Elementary to be named a North Carolina Reward School—a designation given to the top performing Title 1 schools in N.C.
“I have always wanted to be a high school teacher, coach and principal, so I went to UNC Asheville knowing I would fulfill my dream!” Houser said. She graduated in 2003 with a teaching licensure and a degree in literature.
“My literature professors at UNC Asheville were tough!” Houser said. “Those tough conversations and papers I received that were full of red marks helped prepare me for years of grading research papers, writing letters to parents, and preparing presentations and plans for my staff.”
Now, Houser’s days are filled with continuing the work her professors began with her.
“The most rewarding part of my job both as a teacher and now as a principal is the opportunity I have had to build relationships with so many students, families, and other educators” Houser said. “There's nothing better than watching a student that has had struggles either in the classroom with academics or behavior become successful and enjoy coming to school every day!
Leslie Schoof ’97: Madison County Schools Educator of the Year
Leslie Schoof ’97, a biology teacher at Madison Early College High School, was named her school’s Educator of the Year. Schoof earned an all-expenses paid professional development opportunity with the National Institute of Environmental Health's summer program, called the Science, Teachers and Research Institute, or STaRS. The program aims to enhance high school science teachers’ understanding of basic biomedical research. Schoof will use the program to develop two lesson plans on ethic in biology for her students.
"Leslie is a phenomenal teacher who personifies the professionalism at MECHS," said MECHS Principal Jennifer Caldwell in a release. "She is constantly setting high expectations for staff and students. She is a mentor to other teachers in our building, across the county, and across disciplines. I am blessed to be her colleague and appreciate the fact that every student that steps in her classroom receives an A+ education."
Beverly Rudolph ‘88: Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Principal of the Year
Beverly Rudolph ’88 has been principal of Culbreth Middle School in Chapel Hill since 2011, where she was named this year’s Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Principal of the Year. Before starting at Culbreth, Rudolph was assistant principal at East Chapel Hill High School, and taught in Carrboro City Schools, Buncombe County Schools and Cabarrus County Schools.
“Beverly Rudolph is one of the many exemplary principals we have here at Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools,” Jim Causby, interim superintendent of the school system, said in a release. “She is the most significant person in the lives of the students at Culbreth as they continue their educational journeys. You can tell how important each and every student’s education is to her, as well as the morale of her staff. Mrs. Rudolph was selected by all the other CHCCS principals as being the best of the best and you can’t get a better recommendation than that.”
Rudolph said she has known since seventh grade that she wanted to be an English teacher, so she immediately began taking education and literature classes at UNC Asheville.
“My professors were real teachers!” Rudolph said. “My freshman year my first literature class was with the incomparable Dr. Merritt Moseley, who cultivated my love for literature and who pushed me hard to be a both a lofty and yet practical thinker and analyzer. He is still a great mentor to this day.
“My education professors did a great job of preparing us for the classroom so that on day one, I was ready to go,” Rudolph continued. “The emphasis on the humanities in general made me a more well-rounded student, but also a better human being.”
Amy Harris ’00: Glen Arden Elementary School Teacher of the Year
Amy Harris ’00 has been teaching exceptional children at Glen Arden Elementary in Buncombe County for nine years. She’s also worked with middle school students in the Progressive Education Program, resource students at Estes Elementary and middle and high school art students in the Swannanoa Valley Youth Development Center. She was named Glen Arden Elementary School’s Teacher of the Year for 2017.
“I am so thankful that I chose to attend UNC Asheville—the liberal arts foundation, and the expertise of the education department helped to shape me into the teacher that I am today,” Harris said. “My curiosity and a passion for life-long learning were developed at UNC Asheville. The focus on hands-on experience in the field, and the opportunities to travel to classrooms across the state, the country, and even internationally were also highlights of my time with the education department.”