Appalachian State University’s Reich College of Education and Watauga County Schools Receive $6,000 Gift from the Sun Belt Conference

Appalachian State University’s Reich College of Education (RCOE) and Watauga County Schools (WCS) received a $6,000 gift from the Sun Belt Conference as part of the College Football Playoff (CFP) Foundation’s Extra Yard for Teachers (EYFT) Week initiative. 

The gift funded a project titled First Teach: Appalachian State University and Watauga County Schools Teacher Leader Professional Development Program (First Teach Program), a partnership focused on the continuing education and professional growth of the WCS 2021 Teachers and Principal of the Year, nine of whom are App State alumni, and App State teacher education students. 

College Football Goes the Extra Yard for Teachers

EYFT Week, held September 10-18, 2021, was an eight-day period dedicated to celebrating educators across the country, supported by the CFP Foundation and its partners. The CFP Foundations established EYFT Week in 2015 to provide an opportunity for universities, coaches, and student-athletes to take part in its mission of elevating the teaching profession through inspiring and empowering educators.

The CFP Foundation provided the Sun Belt Conference with funds to support teacher-centric education initiatives in conjunction with conference activities at member institutions. Institutions had an opportunity to receive up to $6,000 to implement projects in the local community that incorporated one or more of the pillars of the EYFT Program: resources, recognition, recruitment, and professional development.

In addition, each institution was asked to designate a home game during EYFT Week to recognize the teachers associated with the initiative during an on-field presentation. App State selected November 13, 2021, as this date was selected as the Education Day game at App State.

Game Day Celebration

The WCS Teachers and the Principal of the Year were invited to the November 13 App State home football game against the University of South Alabama. 

Those in attendance were:

  • from Bethel School, Maura McGlamery Miller ’12;
  • from Blowing Rock School, Meagan Kingdon ’15;
  • from Cove Creek School, Calvin Cole ’14;
  • from Green Valley School, Melissa Miller;
  • from Hardin Park, Misty Hyler ’96, who was also named 2021-22 WCS District Teacher of the Year; 
  • from Mabel School, Lauren Harkey ’11;
  • from Parkway School, Haleigh Waterman ’12;
  • from Valle Crucis School, Melanie Randolph;
  • from Watauga High School, Brandon Winbush ’17;
  • the Watauga County Schools Rookie Teacher of the Year, from Parkway School, Audrey Jones ’20; and
  • the Watauga County Schools Principal of the Year, also from Parkway School, Patty Buckner ’14.

During the game, they were recognized on the field for their achievements and as Extra Yard for Teachers participating partners. Chancellor Everts, Dean Spooner, and Director of Athletics, Doug Gillin, presented a $6,000 ceremonial check to WCS Superintendent, Dr. Scott Elliott in acknowledgment of the gift that helped fund the First Teach Program.

Watauga County Teachers and Principal of the Year being recognized onfieldLeft to right: Melanie Randolph, Maura McGlamery Miller, Calvin Cole, Brandon Winbush, Misty Hyler, Athletic Director Doug Gillin, Chancellor Sheri Everts, Superintendent Scott Elliott, Dean Melba Spooner, Patty Buckner, Audrey Jones, and Haleigh Waterman. Photo by Rebekah Saylors.

“Our teacher leaders and their positive influence in our schools are worthy of celebration,” Elliott said. “They have been recognized by their peers for their skills, unique perspectives, and the immense influence they have on our profession. They truly do go the Extra Yard every day!”

About the First Teach Program

App State was founded as a teachers’ college in 1899 and these educational roots remain an integral part of the university’s identity. Today, the RCOE is first for teaching - first to lead and listen, first to inspire and innovate - ensuring that our graduates are prepared to be leaders in the field of education. 

The college works diligently to develop and sustain relationships with local school districts to support the growth of these teacher leaders. WCS is one such dedicated partner. 

RCOE Dean Melba Spooner said, “Sustaining partnerships is critical to the work we do in preparing educators, as well as instilling the practice for professional development and continuing education. The First Teach Program, funded in part by the $6,000 gift from the College Football Playoff Foundation, will provide the opportunity for our teacher education students to learn from the teacher leaders in the Watauga County Schools.” 

“Being able to recognize the Teachers and Principal of the Year for their accomplishments and contributions demonstrates the commitment our university community places on quality education and educators,” she continued.

The First Teach Program, which included all four EYFT pillars, will allow the WCS Teachers and Principal of the Year to gain professional development and then in turn offer professional development seminars for pre-service teachers enrolled in teacher education programs at the RCOE. Professional development of this type helps to prepare App State’s graduates to be successful in their future classrooms, thus inspiring the next generation of Appalachian teachers and sustaining education locally and globally.

The participants will travel from Watauga County to the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching (NCCAT) on Ocracoke Island for a rigorous professional development program. The gift will help to cover the costs of facility rental, participant travel, and room and board as well as substitute pay and a stipend for the participating teachers and principal.

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Watauga County Teachers and Principal of the Year being recognized on field
Published: Nov 22, 2021 4:36pm