Eight student teachers have been named finalists for Appalachian State University’s Student Teacher of the Year Award. They are Hannah Koch, Nathan Minton, Ashlyn Quick, Hannah Rhodes, Alexis Borlase, Carman Crook, Megan Haigler, and Nathan Hartman. The Student Teacher of the Year will be announced in the Reich College of Education (RCOE) video message to graduates on Friday, May 7, 2021, at 5:00 pm. (Learn more on how to view this video.)
Students are nominated by their clinical educators, University Field Supervisors, and faculty members based on their teaching, professionalism and overall effectiveness in the classroom. Nominated students then submit a reflective narrative on their student teaching experience and three letters of recommendation. Up to four finalists for each semester (fall and spring) are selected to compete for the top award.
Between the fall and spring semesters, over 125 student teachers were nominated for this award. “I believe this is a testament to the quality of our students as well as our teacher preparation programs,” said Dr. Hannah Reeder, RCOE Assistant Dean.
Fall 2020 Finalists
Hannah Koch, originally from Apex, North Carolina, graduated in December 2020 with a Bachelor of Music in instrumental music education. She completed her student teaching with Paul Rowe at Apex Friendship High School in Wake County.
Koch started out at App State as a communications major but soon realized that her true passion was music. “I was so thrilled to be a part of the Hayes School of Music where we are a family of musicians.”
“Being able to work so closely with my peers and mentors throughout the years, I was able to develop a strong drive in pursuing my degree,” she added.
Becoming a Mountaineer was an easy decision for Koch. She was drawn to the community and enjoyed being outdoors. “My aunt and uncle also attended App State, and always told me I would be a perfect fit for the school.”
Koch was honored to have been chosen as a finalist because “I know I come from a group of worthy educators - the Fall 2020 music cohort is full of such strong and dedicated teachers that I really admire.”
Koch recently moved to New York City and is working at a preschool. She is in the process of obtaining her New York teacher’s certification to teach in the state for the next academic year.
Nathan Minton, originally from Granite Falls, North Carolina, chose App State because, to him, it felt like home. “From the moment I stepped foot onto campus, I knew that App State would not only prepare me for a career after college but would help me develop the skills and relationships that I would need throughout my personal and professional life.”
Minton graduated in December 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in history, social studies education. He completed his student teaching with Terry Henthorne at Hibriten High School in Caldwell County.
“Being a student teacher of the year finalist isn't an accomplishment that was achieved on my own - it was my family, friends, and the guidance of teachers and mentors who continuously offered support and advice along the way,” said Minton.
Minton was influenced by the many educators who brought passion and grace into their classroom. “Mrs. Carrie Curtis, a tenth-grade social studies teacher showed me the impact that social studies has on our daily lives,” he noted.
“Going into education allows me to inspire and motivate students to seek their full potential and become lifelong learners,” he added.
Minton is currently teaching eighth-grade social studies at William Lenoir Middle School in Lenoir, North Carolina.
Ashlyn Quick, originally from Wilson, North Carolina, graduated in December 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in elementary education. She completed her student teaching with Anne Sukow at Bethel School in Watauga County.
Quick chose App State for its amazing reputation. “The professors and staff have proven to me time and time again that App State provides the absolute best education for teachers in North Carolina, and I feel extremely prepared with the information and methods that I've been taught.”
“Providing pre-service teachers with early field experiences has allowed me to establish a community with like-minded educators who share the same goal of impacting our students, as well experiences with students that I will not soon forget,” she continued. “I knew I could count on App State to teach me evidence-based methods, while also encouraging advocacy and creating a safe place for all.”
Quick chose to work with elementary students because of the “endless learning opportunities in any situation, as well as the extensive amount of content that elementary teachers get to teach.”
For Quick, being named a finalist for Student Teacher of the Year is surreal. “While in our placement, we are doing everything we can, with the support of our amazing clinical educators, to provide the best education and support for all of our internship students, while also building meaningful relationships.”
“Student teaching during a pandemic has been challenging - yet, teaching is all about challenges and adapting to the situation that you’re in,” she continued. “A major piece of advice that I was given going into student teaching was to try new things. I definitely was able to try new things, as education transitioned towards being more technology-driven and creative to engage learners over remote learning.”
“Being a student teacher of the year finalist means that I am a model of hard work and growth for my future students, even during unprecedented times,” Quick added. “I’m very proud to be a representative of the elementary education cohort, and want to point out that all student teachers deserve to be proud of what they accomplished amidst a global pandemic as an emerging teacher.”
Quick is currently enrolled in the Master of Arts in reading education program and autism graduate certificate program. “The decision to continue my education stems from part of my teaching philosophy, which is to teach students to the best of my ability, but to always be learning and growing to develop my practice.”
She is also substitute teaching at a school in her home county and working from home as a graduate assistant for the RCOE Dean’s Office.
Hannah Rhodes, originally from Asheville, North Carolina, graduated in December 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in special education, general curriculum. She did her student teaching with Heather Franklin at Newland Elementary School in Avery County.
Through an international experience after high school, Rhodes realized she wanted to work with individuals with disabilities. “I knew I wanted to be in a career that allowed me to serve individuals who needed that little extra support that would enable individual success.
Rhodes began her academic career at Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College, where one of her professors encouraged her to explore special education as a major. She later transferred to App State.
“App State ‘checked off’ every box I had,” said Rhodes. “It had the program of study I wanted to pursue, it had the mountains I grew up with, and the RCOE had professors who were passionate about the field of education. It had everything I needed to thrive as a student and future teacher.”
“Being a Student Teacher of the year finalist is an incredible honor,” said Rhodes. “I'll admit though, it has little to do with me as an individual, and has everything to do with the environment I chose to be a part of.”
“I am a product of Appalachian State University and of the Reich College of Education,” she continued. “I am proud to call myself an App State alumni, and I'm thankful for the opportunity to share my story and my efforts towards changing the lives of my students.”
“I've had the pleasure of applying what I've learned through App State and impacting the lives I serve,” she added. “This honor is a reflection of my students.”
Rhodes is currently enrolled in the Master of Arts in special education program and autism graduate certificate program. She is also a teaching assistant at Newland Elementary School, serving kindergarten through fifth-grade students.
Spring 2021 Finalists
Alexis Borlase, from Deep Gap, North Carolina, is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in middle grades education, language arts and social studies concentrations. She did her student teaching with Jamie Hayes at Hardin Park School in Boone.
Borlase chose App State because it felt like home and the RCOE’s preparation of teacher candidates.
“The middle grades education program at App State is a close-knit community of education majors with a passion for young adolescents,” said Borlase. “The professors in the program work closely together to ensure they are supporting and preparing us as they should.”
“I knew I wanted to teach middle school because of the pivotal time that young adolescence plays in a person's development,” she added. “The middle grades department has helped me to reach that goal and helped to inspire me to be the best middle grades educator that I can be.”
“Being a student teacher of the year finalist gives me confidence in my ability to lead a classroom and advocate for students,” noted Borlase. “Student teaching has been a time of challenge, but also a time of growth. This nomination reiterates the growth that I have experienced and further drives my passion for the profession.”
After graduating, Borlase plans to move to Hendersonville, North Carolina, to teach middle grades.
Carman Crook, originally from Wingate, North Carolina, is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics secondary education. She did her student teaching with Jessica Rowe at Wilkes Central High School in Wilkes County.
Crook chose App State for both the mathematics and education programs. “By attending App State, I have been given countless opportunities to grow as an educator and to develop a sense of community among my peers in the mathematics secondary education program.”
“I wish for others to see how beautiful the world of mathematics is,” noted Crook. “I understand that many students do not enjoy the subject and, in some way, fear it. I hope that I can help eliminate that fear in my future classroom by showing students how interesting the subject can be.”
For Crook, being nominated for student teacher of the year was an honor and to be named a finalist was humbling. “Although demanding, student teaching has been the most rewarding experience I have ever been a part of.”
“I have learned and grown so much since the beginning of the semester and being named a finalist is representative of that for me,” she continued.
Crook has accepted a position teaching high school mathematics in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “I am eager to start this new journey and to continue to learn how to be the most effective educator I can be.”
“None of this would be possible without the support from the amazing professors I have had during my time at App State, my clinical educator, or my friends and family,” she added.
Megan Haigler, originally from Concord, North Carolina, is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in elementary education. She did her student teaching with Natalie Mackey at Gamewell Elementary School in Caldwell County.
Haigler was a member of the Appalachian Community of Education Scholars (ACES) program and was “excited about the community of fellow educators that I would be a part of if I chose to come to App!”
Completing her student teaching semester in a Kindergarten class solidified Haigler’s desire to teach. “Young students have such a wild imagination and so much unchecked creativity continually inspires me!”
“I look forward to being a part of that time in the lives of my students, and, hopefully, I will be able to have a positive impact on them that will last into their future education, jobs, and relationships with others,” she added.
“Being a student teacher of the year finalist is confirmation that all of my work at App State has paid off, and everything that I have done up until this point has absolutely been worth it,” said Haigler. “I am beyond honored to be chosen as a finalist, and this honor is definitely a testament to how well my wonderful professors in RCOE prepared me for the student teaching experience and my career in education!”
After graduating, Haigler will continue her education in the Accelerated Admissions program, earning her Master of Arts in reading education and graduate certificate in teaching emergent bilingual populations.
Nathan Hartman, originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, is graduating with a Bachelor of Music in instrumental music education. He did his student teaching with Clint McCaskill at Heritage High School in Wake County.
Hartman chose Appalachian because of the community and the reputation of both the Reich College of Education and the Hayes School of Music. “The knowledge and skills I have acquired through App State will follow me for the rest of my life, and I feel extremely prepared for the field of music education.”
“Music has always been an integral part of my life,” said Hartman. “It is the reason I have so many connections to such amazing people, and I would not be who I am today without it.”
“There are so many amazing things that can be expressed and shared through music, and it can sometimes be difficult to describe these things in words,” he continued. “It is an experience like no other that I want to share with my future students. By doing this, I hope to impact the lives of others like mine was.”
“Honestly, I was blown away when I heard that I was nominated for Student Teacher of the Year,” said Hartman. “Being a finalist for such a prestigious award is both an honor and a privilege.”
“Throughout my student teaching experience, I was simply trying to do everything I possibly could to positively impact the lives and educational experiences of the students I had the pleasure to teach,” he continued. “Being a finalist gives me reassurance that I am making a difference and that I am exactly where I am meant to be.”
After graduating, Hartman plans to secure an opportunity to teach students instrumental music at the middle and/or high school level.
“Eventually, I hope to go back to school for my masters as well as my doctorate,” he added. “My end goal is to teach music at the collegiate level.”