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Hendersonville, NC 28739

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Henderson County Education Foundation Announces 2024 Hall of Fame Inductees

Hendersonville, NC (Mar. 7, 2024): The Henderson County Education Foundation (HCEF) is thrilled to announce the 2024 inductees into its prestigious Education Hall of Fame. These individuals have made exceptional contributions to the growth and development of education in Henderson County, and their dedication will be celebrated at a special ceremony on April 30, 2024.

Since 2003, including this year’s honorees, HCEF has recognized over 150 individuals, including teachers, administrators, support staff, school board members, and donors, by inducting them into the Education Hall of Fame. As one of just five education halls of fame in North Carolina, it offers special recognition to those who have championed educational excellence in Henderson County for years.


Cindy Ellis: 

A dedicated educator, Cindy has fostered a love of learning in countless students through her innovative teaching methods and unwavering support for teachers and students. Her ability to listen intentionally served her well as she moved out of her classroom position and on to becoming a mentor in many elementary classrooms, assuming new roles as one of the three original elementary instructional coaches in HCPS, Curriculum Specialist, and Lead Teacher. Cindy touched the lives of all the students she taught but more than that she impacted the lives of so many other students through her mentoring, leadership and instruction of other teachers.


Gary Rivers: 

Gary Rivers dedicated his career to empowering individuals through education, sports, and faith. He tackled issues like reducing drop-out rates, promoting diversity awareness, and motivating students to excel. As a teacher, coach, and counselor, he left a lasting impact on countless lives in Henderson County, both within the school system and at Blue Ridge Community College. His passion for helping others extended beyond academics, fostering unity and encouraging minority students through initiatives like the annual Martin Luther King Breakfast and “Tea with G” events. Rivers exemplifies the true spirit of an educator, leaving a legacy of positive change and inspiration.


Hilda W. Hamilton: 

Hilda is a passionate advocate for children and fellow educators as a teacher, tutor, instructional coach, and mentor. She has dedicated her life to improving educational opportunities for underserved communities. Her leadership and tireless efforts have made a lasting impact on countless students and teachers.  Hilda was one of the first National Board Certified Teachers in the entire nation, certifying in November of 1994 in the first trial of candidacy. She then became a mentor to others who were seeking certification.  She exhibits the best of what Henderson County Public Schools offer: pride in what she does, excellence in all she does, and hope for what our schools can become.


Robert Dean Jones: 

Robert Dean Jones is an exemplary leader who dedicated his career to serving Henderson County Public Schools. He began his journey as a physical education teacher and coach, later excelling as a head coach, fostering strong relationships with players and staff. As an administrator, he oversaw transformative improvements in athletic facilities and led West Henderson High School to academic excellence during his nine-year tenure as principal. Jones’ commitment to both academics and athletics, coupled with his visionary approach, has left a lasting impact on the school system and the countless lives he touched.



The Night of the Stars Education Hall of Fame Celebration will be held on April 30, 2024, at Jeter Mountain Farm. This event will be an opportunity to honor the inductees and celebrate their remarkable contributions to our community.  Tickets may be purchased by calling 828.697.5551 or by visiting HCEF’s website at https://hcefnc.org/events/education-celebration/.