Hendersonville – Prospective teachers from Henderson County are getting recognition and encouragement.
The Henderson County Education Foundation’s recent Hall of Fame banquet included a salute to the teachers of the year at each of Henderson County Public Schools’ 23 schools.
The banquet drew more than 200 people. Many are current or retired educators. Eight HCPS high school students who plan to major in education sat together at a table. They were termed “future teachers.” This 20th annual Education Celebration dinner, presented by AdventHealth Hendersonville, was held on April 26 at Jeter Mountain Farm.
The prospective teachers included these 2022 graduates: East Henderson’s Nic Knox, Dafne Rodriguez, and Yesica Tepox-Ambrocio; North Henderson’s Baylee Clayton and Makenzie Villarreal, and Josh Strickland of West Henderson. The other two at their table were West rising senior Abigail Rodgers, and East rising junior Destiny Sinotis. The Tribune spoke with each of them.
Several of them want to go into the teaching profession to “make a difference” in students’ lives, as Clayton put it. She credits her teachers for helping her become “more confident.” For Rodriguez, she foresees that her best reward from teaching will be watching students “grow.” Rodgers and Tepox-Ambrocio each used the term “impact.” They explained that it goes beyond teaching knowledge and career skills to personal development. Simotis cites “inspiration” as a prime motivator to motivate a student toward personal and career achievements.
It is imperative for a teacher to make a “connection” with students, to get through with them, Knox and Simotis argued is true for an athletics coach, too. Simotis said a strong rapport leads to “respect” for the instructor.
“Knowledge” remains the foundation of a teacher’s purpose, Strickland said. In-class learning is the best, several said. Villarreal likes the “interactive” aspect. She sees “listening” as a crucial component of teaching, to answer student questions so they better “understand” lessons.
Rodriguez and Tepox enjoyed some specialized learning as they were among 60 new HCPS grads honored as Career and Technical Education (CTE) exceptional scholars. A student becomes a “CTE concentrator” with the recommendations of three teachers, a GPA of at least 3.0 overall and 3.25 in CTE courses, and by earning two or more technical credits in a Career Cluster Pathway—including at least one “completer” course. Specialty studies include Certified Nursing Assistant, Fire Safety, and First Aid certifications, as well as W!SE Financial Literacy certifications. Some earned credentials via Microsoft, the ServSafe National Restaurant Association, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. CTE scholars are typically active in student organizations that relate to their specialized courses—such as Future Business Leaders of America, Health Occupations Students of America, and Future Farmers of America. Scott Moore directs CTE. He said CTE scholars are “committing to a pathway within their chosen field of study, exhibiting sustained academic success and gaining valuable experience in vital leadership and employment skills through their involvement” in student groups. He said they show they are “well-equipped to enter the workplace” or seek “higher education” degrees.
The Hall of Fame banquet’s student co-host, North Henderson 2022 grad Celeste Young, represented her school’s Leader in Me program. So far, NHHS is the sole HCPS high school with this program, which is much more prevalent in local elementary schools. Young told the Tribune she values how the program develops skills in critical thinking, communication, and leadership. She said she developed “synergy” with her teachers, other students, teammates in cross country, basketball, and soccer, and from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The rising Western Carolina University freshman said she plans a career in social work.
Teachers of the Year
Teachers of the year lined up in two groups, to get recognized. Those from high schools are Lisa Holder (Career Academy), Natalie Pierce (Early College), Maggie McDade (East), Courtney Hoelscher (Hendersonville), Katrina Poeta (North) and Kelly King (West). Middle school winners are Amber Buehler (Apple Valley), Albert Fernandez (Flat Rock), William Shisler (HMS) and Renee Landreth (Rugby).
Atkinson Elementary honorees are Alex Merced (Atkinson), Doris “Dee” Rojas (Drysdale), Jessica Jenkins (Clear Creek), Norma Canada-Smith (Dana), Dustin Young (Edneyville), Jennifer Furr (Etowah), Faren Butler (Gee) (Fletcher), Karen Whiting (Marlow), Kara Lindsey (Hendersonville), Amy McEntire (Hillandale), Becky Marks (Mills River), Janet Covington (Sugarloaf) and Michelle Cunningham (Upward).
Whiting is the overall 2021–22 HCPS teacher of the year. She teaches fourth grade at Glenn C. Marlow Elementary. The ‘21–22 principal of the year, Edneyville Elementary’s Dr. Marsha Justice, was honored by Supt. Dr. John Bryant, the banquet host.