2010 Hall of Fame

2010 Hall of Fame

Inez Jackson Phillips

Inez_Phillips_smInez Phillips taught for 42 years at Balfour Elementary School, beginning in 1958, making advancements in physical education and endearing herself to students.

The Dana native taught science, in grades 4-6. She was county teacher of the year in 1983. Her students were among highest grade-level performers in the entire school system. She helped Balfour get accredited by the Southern Association of Elementary Schools and Colleges. She was an early proponent of computer use by students. “She was an outstanding teacher, and leader in the school,” said Corum Smith, one of four of her Balfour principals. The first was a future superintendent, Glenn Marlow. Smith describes her as “loyal and dedicated,” a role model to colleagues for “professionalism.”

Mrs. Phillips was lead teacher in developing an elementary physical education program. It propelled Balfour into select status, as a statewide demonstration school in the Seventies.

At Balfour, she “gleaned any ideas and methods” from colleagues. Faculty felt a “family togetherness.”

She said it was a “blessing to teach all of those lovely children. Now, I see what they have accomplished. Many are ministers, educators and in other important fields. It’s very gratifying.”

For Inez Jackson Phillips, education remains a lifelong mission.

2010 Education Hall of Fame

Thomas W. Williams

Thomas_Williams_smThomas Williams sports a three-decade educational career in both Carolinas. He’s familiar to many as East Henderson basketball coach, and Hendersonville Middle School principal.

He taught science and physical education and coached at East Henderson High from 1966-83. He was head coach of East football, boys’ and girls’ basketball, golf, and track’s field events at various times. He led up to four sports per year. He said, like his mentor HHS Coach Ted Carter, he sought “perfection” from players. He instilled a basic offense, and sense of pride and purpose and “team-man-ship.” He said that from athletics youth learn “how to get along, and deal with ups and downs. You’re going to have knocks in life. But we gave some back, too.”

Williams taught in Hendersonville High, in 1983-84, and helped coach football. Retired HHS principal Tom Wilson added, “his leadership skills and work ethics have provided quality examples, to co-workers and students.”

Williams then took the helm of Hendersonville Middle School, as principal from 1984 until retiring in 1990. “He showed fairness,” Patsy Farmer Jones recalled. Nicky D. Roberts, who also taught for him, said he was “open to innovations.” Williams said “I told teachers their classroom was their ship. They could run it.”

Mr. Williams looks at his former students like a proud father. “We prepare children for their future citizenship and leadership,” he said. “The reward you get working with kids is seeing how they develop in the community.”

2010 Education Hall of Fame

Barbara Mathis Stepp

Barbara_Stepp_smBarbara Stepp utilized animals, music, her own modeling and class tasks to entertain and train her Balfour kindergarten students.

She taught at Balfour from 1979, until it ceased as an elementary in 2002, then for two years at new Clear Creek before retiring. She livened up her classes, illustrating what she taught through sight and sound. She dressed up as the color of the day. She instructed through songs with rhyme and rhythm. She notes that in absorbing music “you use both sides of your brains.”

Most fun, students recall, was playing with farm animals she brought to class such as a pot-bellied pig that rumbled from courtyard to their room and squealed to be fed, or pygmy goat that jumped on tables to “tap dance.” She noted both “children and animals are truthful.” And quick learners. Responsibility emerged, as students cared for the critters.

“Barbara was a real ‘diamond in the rough,’ and blessed with a special love for young children and an extraordinary gift of creativity,” longtime Balfour principal Corum Smith said. He said from her eagerness to “think outside the box, to explore new approaches … her classroom became a beehive of exciting, creative and wonderful opportunities.”

2010 Education Hall of Fame

Rosalind Shealy Pardue

Rosalind_Pardue_smRosalind Pardue is hailed as a creative, energetic and charismatic instructor, who made science fun through hands-on activities.

She taught science including biology and physiology at Hendersonville High School, in 1961-67 and 1990-99. She was faculty sponsor of HHS cheerleaders in 1961-62, and co-sponsor of National Honor Society students in 1963-68. She was quite the science student herself, winning first in the National Science Fair in 1957. She also taught science in Hendersonville Junior High in 1968-73 and briefly in Hendersonville Middle School. Since retiring, she’s volunteered as a reading tutor for Drysdale and Upward elementary students.

Mrs. Pardue is recognized for turning science into a fun academic adventure. “I wasn’t the kind of teacher who told ’em to read the next chapter, then answer the questions in the back,” she said. “I tried to make science more interesting, through experiments and ‘hands-on’ activities. So they’d learn, and it’d stick with them better.”

Attending Bearcat sporting or civic events, Mrs. Pardue is a familiar link to Hendersonville High’s academic and athletic legacy. She said that in turn, seeing her former students triggers wonderful memories and tremendous pride for “how well they’ve done in the community.”

2010 Education Hall of Fame

Steve Norwood

Steve_Norwood_smJohn Stephen “Steve” Norwood was a creative innovator as both central office administrator and principal.

He was community schools coordinator for Henderson County Schools from 1982 until the city-county merger in ’93. In the mid-Eighties, he set up licensed, nominal-fee day child care to find “responsible answers to problems that come onto our laps.” It still goes on, in all 12 elementary cafeterias, for developmentally-challenged and other children.

As Hillandale Elementary principal from 1993-2002, Norwood established an award-winning Hillandale Family Literacy Program around classes for English as a second language (ESL) held in his school and mostly funded by Blue Ridge Community College. “The first time I walked down the steps at Hillandale,” he recalled, “I was met by a Mexican family who spoke no English.” He explained that “my strategy was to bring them up academically, also to help the whole school. As for their parents, he said, “I found it very heart-warming, inspiring, to see people who worked hard all day in the fields and had struggled so hard with English be so motivated to learn the language.”

A bonus is cultural exchange, to “understand, admire and appreciate each other.” Through family literacy, Norwood learned Spanish. He went from facilitator and ride giver to ESL instructor, a role he maintains.

He presented a video on the project, at a national education-related convention. The project enabled him to be the first educator from Henderson County to get the Governor’s Entrepreneurial Award, and landed BRCC the national Bellweather Award for exemplary community college programs.

2010 Education Hall of Fame

Dr. Thomas A. Ledbetter

Thomas_Ledbetter3Dr. Thomas Allen Ledbetter’s varied, distinguished career in school administration featured a two-decade stint as East Henderson High School School principal and pivotal time in the central office.

He’s best known to many families as personable “Doc” Ledbetter, East Henderson High School principal, from 1971 to 1989. He weighed individual cases and people’s situations. “When people say all kids are alike, it isn’t true,” Dr. Ledbetter said. “They’re a little bit different. You need to deal with the differences, rather than automatically treat everybody the same way.” One common trait he did find was how school sports boosted school morale and interest in studies. “Success breeds success.”

Dr. Ledbetter helped get a lot done in 1989-98 as assistant superintendent over Auxiliary Services such as facilities and transportation. He served the county schools, then combined Henderson County Public Schools that formed in 1993. During the merger, he was instrumental in renovating East and West Henderson, plus seven elementaries. In his biggest impact, Ledbetter’s idea to build North Henderson High and Apple Valley Middle School on the same campus saved money. He sought larger facilities than were budgeted, to fit expected increased enrollment that now forces expansion of that campus.

2010 Education Hall of Fame

Gerald G. Greene

Gerald_Greene_smGerald Greene was principal of Mills River Elementary for 15 years, from 1971-86. Before that, he ran another local school — East Flat Rock — for seven years starting in 1964. He appeared in the 1967 edition of Outstanding Personalities of the South, for educational distinction. He started his career in this county by teaching eighth grade in Dana School for two years.

Gerald Greene is described by students’ parents as very trustworthy, humble, gentle, caring, courteous and conscientious. He was a problem-solving administrator, accessible and personable communicator. “Gerald was a very understanding principal,” said Ocie Stinnett, among several who as a school parents were very impressed with his style and results. “He talked to you on your level,” Mrs. Stinnett said. “He listened, and then decided the best action to take. You knew how he was going to handle the situation.”

Greene exemplified the old adage about learning by doing, growing through experience. “As a school principal, you gotta be ready for whatever happens next,” he said.

Safety and nutrition are two of his priorities for students. He’d be there to see the earliest children arrive and stay outside to see all buses safely off. “I wanted to provide the most I could, for the children,” Greene said. “Our purpose was getting them prepared for a high school education, to give each student the best basic skills. This involves an orderly school with fair discipline. At the same time, I’d like them to enjoy what they’re doing.”

2010 Education Hall of Fame

Ethlyn S. Byrd

Ethlyn_Byrd_smEthlyn Byrd taught 35 years — 22 in Henderson County. She retired in 2002. She first taught math and science in Balfour seventh and eighth grades starting in 1967. Next, she taught seventh-grade language arts and social studies in the early years (1972-76) of Flat Rock Junior High.

She switched to elementary schools — starting with Hillandale (in 1976) and then Atkinson (1986), when both first opened. She taught the academically and intellectually gifted (AIG) at Hendersonville and Drysdale elementary schools and Hendersonville Middle, then HMS sixth-grade math and language arts. Early on, she taught emotionally-distraught children in a state treatment center.

Developmentally-challenged students “weren’t necessarily the easiest children to teach, but they appealed to me.” “I liked the ones who were challenges,” she said.

In reflecting on her service as an educator, “My biggest satisfaction is from watching the children grow up, and become productive citizens.”

2010 Education Hall of Fame

Lula Burrell

Lula_Burrell_smLula Burrell worked 20 years for Tryon City Schools starting in 1941 before the U.S. entered World War II, then 30 years in Henderson until 1992. She was a treasured aide for Supts. J.M. Foster, Glenn C. Marlow, then Dr. Dan Lunsford. They described her as very dedicated and reliable, a pillar of the central office.

“There are not enough superlatives to describe Lula Burrell,” then-Supt. Marlow wrote when nominating her for a state award in 1989. Marlow described Burrell as an “expert” in various areas, and a dependable and “outstanding” worker. “She meticulously checks and double-checks to assure accuracy.”

The award Marlow nominated her for was Educational Office Professional (EOP) of the Year, which emphasized career achievement. She won that award in 1990. Since 2002, it’s been named for her. She’s among 28 charter members of the N.C. Assoc. of Educational Office Professionals, which boosts office staff training. She recalls the very day it began — April 28, 1951. She was NCAEOP state president in 1957-58, and district I head in 1952 for 15 westernmost counties. An EOP scholarship fund is in her name, since 1994. She’s attended all 59 of its state conferences, plus nine EOP national conferences.

2010 Education Hall of Fame