Uplifting future educators: Helen Beatty Heafner ’43

For Helen Beatty Heafner ’43, education was more than a career — it was her life’s passion. 

She earned a degree in elementary education from what was then known as Appalachian State Teachers College, and would later become Appalachian State University. Heafner taught elementary school for more than 40 years in Alexander County. For the last 35 years of her career, Ellendale Elementary School was her home base. 

Heafner, who passed away at the age of 95, was revered by friends, family, students and colleagues as a “classic teacher” — gentle, quiet, and strong. She had a deep love of the arts and taught piano lessons for many years. 

Thanks to a generous bequest from her estate, Heafner’s commitment to teaching and learning will live on through the Bob and Helen Heafner Scholarship Fund for Education. 

Heafner had been consistently donating to the university for decades, starting in 1984. She and her husband, Bob, knew they wanted to build on their contributions, specifically so they could uplift future educators. They endowed the Heafner Scholarship in 1992 and, several years later, Heafner established a planned gift for the scholarship to ensure their support of teachers would continue in perpetuity. The Heafners are members of the 1899 Legacy Society, which is designated for those who have included the university in their estate plans.

They designated the renewable scholarship for education majors from North Carolina, with preference to students from Alexander County and those majoring in elementary education and music education.

For much of her adult life, Heafner was engaged and involved with App State. She served as a charter member of the Reich College of Education (RCOE) Advancement Board. In 2003, she was inducted into the Rhododendron Society — the highest honor given by the RCOE — which recognizes alumni for their exemplary service to education and to their communities.

In 2022, RCOE dedicated Suite 205 in the college of education as the Helen B. Heafner ’43 Department of Curriculum and Instruction — a lasting tribute to her legacy.

Those who knew Heafner commended her for “helping students experience success beyond their expectations” and now she will be able to influence infinite generations to come.

--Contributed by Megan Bruffy

Helen Heafner
Published: May 26, 2022 11:07am