A Legacy of Excellence

After 38 years of serving the students of Haywood County Schools, Superintendent Dr. Bill Nolte is retiring.

Nolte was hired as superintendent in 2018, going on to lead Haywood County Schools from 10th place among North Carolina school systems to seventh out of 115 districts.

During his nearly four-decades-long career with Haywood County Schools, Nolte has held various positions within the school system.

In 1984, Nolte came to Haywood County Schools as the public health education coordinator as the state was focusing on increasing health education in public schools.

Nolte worked nine years in the school system teaching about public health issues like AIDS and drug abuse prevention. Then superintendent Dr. Karen Campbell approached Nolte and recommended that he look into becoming a principal.

Nolte left central office for an assistant principal position at Pisgah High School, followed by principal positions at Bethel Elementary School and Waynesville Middle School.

“Those were very rewarding years for me,” Nolte said with a smile. “You can learn a lot if you just kneel down beside a student and ask them what they’re working on.”

When Nolte went to Bethel as principal, the school was sitting a little below average for the state with a performance composite score of 75. In just seven years under Nolte’s leadership, the school climbed to a score of 91.

Nolte’s legacy at Bethel has lasted. The school is still among one of the top-performing elementary schools in the county.

Nolte jumped back to central office as associate superintendent in 2005. Over the next 13 years, Nolte collaborated with the district’s leadership team to move Haywood County Schools from 40th in the state to 11th.

Nolte was hired as the district’s superintendent in July 2018.

During the past five years as superintendent, Nolte has faced several noteworthy challenges. The Covid pandemic and shutdown is the most obvious.

“Any superintendent in the country could talk about Covid, but what our people in the county did was simply amazing,” Nolte said. “When Covid hit, we stayed connected, delivered food on buses across the county, and made sure our students had the materials they needed.”

On a Saturday in March of 2020, Haywood County Schools made the announcement that in-person learning was being suspended. In just three school days, the district had shifted to remote learning.

“During Covid, our people did as much they could by giving our pre-k students summer opportunities, lobbying with state officials over spectators at outdoor sports events, wearing masks when we needed and taking them off when it was safe,” Nolte explained. “We never stopped; we as in the hundreds of employees, thousands of students, thousands of community members never went home and threw in the towel.

While dealing with the Covid shutdown, Haywood County Schools also grappled with a ransomware attack.

“We were already in remote learning when the ransomware attack happened,” Nolte said. “We only lost one week of instruction, and we didn’t lost data or pay the ransom.”

Over the past few years, the community has also lost some students and a teacher who passed away on campus. Last year, a devastating flood also hit the county.

“Through all of those challenges, our people responded better than anyone could have expected them to respond,” Nolte said. “Our staff worked hard through each situation and didn’t wait for things to get easier.”

Despite the challenges, Nolte has continued to push Haywood County Schools and improve schools’ and students’ performance.

Nolte credits the district’s leap from 10th to seventh in the state with implementing in-person learning before many of the state’s other school districts during the Covid shutdown. He noted that 25 N.C. districts did not go to in-person learning for an entire school year.

During Covid, Nolte and his administration team encouraged staff to teach the most important standards that students would need to know for the next grade level.

“We decided that the education of our children is too important to do in a mediocre way,” Nolte explained. “I believe that our students will have an advantage for a long time over folks who did not go to school in person, and some may have an advantage for the rest of their lives.”

Nolte said some of his greatest memories are the days he found out Haywood County Schools moved from 40th to 11th in the state and again recently when the district moved to seventh.

Aside from that, he admits he has several great memories from each school year, most involving individual students.

“There have been lots of students that I’ve seen their light come on in the middle of third grade and learning all of a sudden became easy for them,” Nolte said. “Another great memory was when I was principal at Waynesville Middle School and our Odyssey of the Mind team won fourth place in the nation.”

After his retirement on November 1, Nolte will trade in walking the halls of schools to walking the woods in search of new hunting spots.

Nolte plans to spend some time on his family’s farm in Tennessee, travel with his wife, catch up on yardwork and house projects, and make time to hunt with friends.

“Dr. Nolte’s commitment to the students and staff of Haywood County Schools is to be commended,” Dr. Trevor Putnam, Haywood County Schools’ next superintendent, said. “He has dedicated his life to serving our great students, and we want to wish him all the best in retirement.”

The community is invited to celebrate Dr. Nolte’s career at a retirement celebration on Thursday, October 20 from 4:00-6:00p.m. at Haywood County Schools’ Central Office located at 1233 N. Main Street in Waynesville.

Sally Hundley Named Teacher of the Year

Bethel Middle School teacher Sally Hundley was named Haywood County Schools’ 2023 Teacher of the Year.

Hundley, who has worked in Haywood County Schools for 30 years, was selected as the district-wide winner. Runner ups were Jamie Frese from Meadowbrook Elementary School and Emily Burrus from Pisgah High School.

Every year, each of the district’s 15 schools selects a Teacher of the Year. A selection committee is then tasked with choosing the district-wide Teacher of the Year after reviewing applications and visiting each teacher’s classroom.

“All of you probably don’t even realize how valuable you are to our school system,” Haywood County Schools Superintendent Dr. Bill Nolte said at the Teacher of the Year banquet held earlier this month. “You just come to work, you love the children, and you teach; but your coworkers at school recognize your efforts.”

Nolte acknowledged that the district moving up three spots to seventh in the state was due in large part to the school system’s teaching staff.

“You are people who have been selected by your fellow teachers to be the Teachers of the Year,” Nolte continued. “We have a load of folks who are really talented and do the right things, even when things are tough.”

Hundley was announced as the winner to a standing ovation.

“I read one time about a teacher who wanted to have one good year and repeat it 30 times,” Hundley said in her acceptance speech. “Well, I don’t want to have that kind of Groundhog Day, nor do you guys. We push each other to be better. To be in your company amazes me.”

No two days, let alone years, are alike in Hundley’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) classes at Bethel Middle School – a tall order for a veteran teacher.

Each day, Hundley welcomes in sixth, seventh, and eighth graders to her classroom to have thought-provoking discussions and complete challenging experiments. Although the content of the class is strenuous at times, Hundley is sure to throw in a good measure of humor and understanding of middle school student life in each lesson.

“I love teaching the elective STEM class because students work together to apply the math and science that we are learning everywhere else,” Hundley said. “I look at the topics in science and math for middle schoolers, then I add in a dose of build, destroy, build.”

Sixth grade’s focus is aerospace engineering, seventh grade studies biomedical engineering, and eighth grade is patterned around civil engineering.

Projects include everything from building structures and testing weight limits to students studying their own genetics to soldering biomedical equipment.

While Hundley has been a Bethel Blue Demon for the past 12 years, she has worked in several Haywood County schools teaching a variety of classes since 1992.

Upon graduating from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, Hundley accepted her first job at Pisgah High School teaching United States history, world geography, psychology, and sociology.

“I was a N.C. Teaching Fellow, and in my mind, I was just going to teach for four years to repay my college tuition,” Hundley explained. “During my first year teaching, I realized teaching is contagious. I love what I do, and I cannot imagine anything else.”

After three years of teaching at Pisgah, she made the move to Waynesville Middle School where she taught history, math, and science before becoming the school’s lead teacher.

“One day the district’s HR director, Jason Heinz, called and told me there was an electives teaching position open at Bethel Middle,” Hundley said. “He allowed me to put my creative spin on what was planned. He brought me back into the classroom, and I am forever grateful.”

Hundley describes her teaching philosophy as constructivist, meaning that children construct knowledge and skills by building them through active learning.

“I have three legacy statements that matter to me as a teacher,” Hundley explained. “All children are gifted, we are made to create, and mistakes are learning.”

While many would classify middle school as a trying time for parents and teachers alike, Hundley does not hesitate to welcome any student to her class.

“My job is to find where children are gifted, help them recognize their talents, and discover how to use them the rest of their lives,” Hundley said. “People often spend too much time afraid of making mistakes. I want my students to reach for the high hanging fruit, even if that means missing sometimes.”

While in Hundley’s classroom, students frequently exclaim that STEM is their favorite class as they glue together straws and tie fishing line to construct space aircrafts.

“Mrs. Hundley is relatable, and that’s why she’s one of my favorite teachers,” Layla Henson, a sixth grader, said. “She makes us laugh while we’re working on our projects, and I never want to leave her class.”

This year marks the third time Hundley has received the Haywood County Schools Teacher of the Year award. She served as the Western Region 8 Teacher of the Year in the past and was also on the State Teacher of the Year Team.

Additionally, she has served as an adjunct professor for Western Carolina University, Lees McRae College, and Appalachian State University.

Hundley’s accolades are not limited to North Carolina. She was a DisneyHAND Team Teacher of the Year. Through that, she traveled to Disney Parks, graduated from Disney U, and learned new ways of teaching and learning.

Hundley has received grant awards from multiple groups including the Haywood County Schools Foundation, HP Computers, Apple Computers, National Science Teachers Association, Western Carolina University Teacher Education Partnership, National Education Association, and the International Society of Technology in Education.

As Teacher of the Year, Hundley received a monetary award from Haywood County Schools and will be recognized again in the spring with a Pactiv Evergreen award from the Haywood County Schools Foundation. She will also now be considered for the WNC Regional Teacher of the Year award.

Over the next year, Hundley will act as an ambassador for teachers throughout the county and will serve on several district-wide committees.

“I’m preparing to use my voice to talk about education, and it is my hope that I will move through the next levels and have a greater opportunity to share that message,” Hundley said. “I want others to know that public schools matter to the strength of our community.”

Foundation Awards More Than $400,000 in Scholarships

The Haywood County Schools Foundation awarded 81 Pisgah, Tuscola, and Haywood Early College high school seniors with 121 scholarships totaling $400,500 last week. Scholarship amounts ranged from $500 to $48,000.

Executive Director for the Foundation Jenny Wood, along with Foundation board members, surprised seniors at each high school on May 19 with the good news.

“Our scholarship committee members have read through every one of your applications, and they agreed that everyone in here is deserving of these scholarships,” Wood told Tuscola High School seniors gathered in the school’s media center. “We look forward to hearing about your successes in college and beyond.”

The total amount of scholarship awards was up more than $140,000 from last year thanks to an increase in the Foundation’s investment interest and a $1.5 million endowment from the Plott family that created the Doris Eugenia Plott Memorial Scholarship and the Grace and Wayne Plott Memorial Scholarship.

Each of the 81 high school recipients was awarded at least $1,000 in combined scholarships.

The Foundation also awarded more than $22,000 in renewable scholarships to previous scholarship winners who are currently pursuing college degrees.

“We are beyond thrilled by and impressed with our 2022 scholarship recipients,” Wood said. “These seniors spent half of their high school education learning through the pandemic, and they didn’t let it dampen their academic achievements or pursuit of higher education.”

Pisgah senior Jackson Holland received one of the largest scholarship awards, the newly created Wayne and Grace Plott Memorial Scholarship totaling $40,000.

“This scholarship is going to help my family out a lot by taking a huge burden off of my parents’ shoulders,” Holland said. “I’m extremely thankful to the Plott family and the Haywood County Schools Foundation.”

Holland applied and was accepted to the highly-competitive and prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). MIT is perhaps best known for its programs in engineering and the physical sciences.

This year, MIT admitted 1,337 out of 33,796 applicants for an overall acceptance rate of just four percent.

Holland put MIT at the top of his college list after watching the 2008 film “21.” The film is inspired by the true story of the MIT blackjack team.

“After watching that movie, I was really interested in MIT and began researching the school and how to prepare myself to get in,” Holland explained. “I made it a goal to apply and get accepted.”

After his sophomore year at Pisgah, he began studying for the SATs, even though he wouldn’t take his test until one year later. All his studying paid off. Holland scored a 1590; just 10 points shy of a perfect score.

High SAT scores weren’t the only thing that contributed to Holland’s academic success. At Pisgah, he has taken numerous Advanced Placement (AP) classes, honors classes, and courses at Haywood Community College (HCC) through the school’s dual enrollment program.

Holland is more than a pure academic. He also played football all four years of high school in between working at Riverview Farm and Garden in Canton.

“I credit all my success to everyone who has been so supportive of me and my goals,” Holland said. “My teachers, family, and friends were very supportive. No one told me going to MIT was off the table.”

At MIT, Holland says he will most likely major in electrical engineering, although the field of artificial intelligence has also piqued his interest.

“I don’t know where I’ll end up career wise, but I want to explore options in research or even create my own business,” Holland said. “It would be a dream to intern at a company like Google or OpenAI while I’m in college.”

Morgan Putnam received the second Plott scholarship for Pisgah seniors, the Doris Eugenia Plott Memorial Scholarship, valued at $40,000.

Like Holland, Putnam has also been successful academically at Pisgah. With AP and honors classes at Pisgah and dual enrollment classes at HCC, her high school coarse load has been similar to that of a college student.

“I feel like the advanced classes I’ve taken through school have helped prepare me for college,” Putnam explained. “I have a solid feel for the workload and expectations professors will have in college.”

Upon graduating, Putnam will attend East Tennessee State University (ETSU) in Johnson City, Tenn.

Putnam’s passion for working with children has her torn between majoring in nursing or elementary education.

During her time at Pisgah, Putnam took several health sciences classes, including nursing fundamentals where she received her CNA license.

“That class was definitely one of my favorite classes in high school and opened my eyes to the possibility of becoming a pediatric nurse,” Putnam said. “Ms. Kuykendall is an amazing teacher, and I made a lot of great friends in class.”

Putnam said her goal in life is to help others, which makes elementary education another appealing degree.

No matter which college degree Putnam pursues, she said receiving the Doris Eugenia Plott Memorial Scholarship will allow her to focus on her studies and not on student loan debt.

“My family and I have been praying really hard that God would show me where I need to be and that He would provide a way,” Putnam explained. “This scholarship is such a huge blessing to my family, and a huge financial burden has been removed.”

This year, the James and Betty Scott Memorial Scholarship was awarded to Tuscola senior Hannah Wells. It is the Foundation’s largest scholarship with a total of $48,000.

After successfully completing several AP and honors classes, as well as dual enrollment courses at HCC, Wells is ranked in the top five percent of Tuscola’s 2022 senior class.

“AP Calculus with Mr. Pressley was probably my favorite class I’ve taken,” Wells said. “It’s a yearlong class, so it was fun to be with the same people for an entire year instead of just a semester.”

Wells said taking on a heavy workload at Tuscola has helped her prepare for college the most.

“My work ethic has improved so much over the past few years,” Wells said. “All those classes taught me time management and showed me how to work for the grades I want.”

Outside of academics, Wells excelled on Tuscola’s soccer, volleyball, and swim teams. Wells is also active in a girls youth group that meets once a week for a devotion, time of fellowship, and volunteer work.

Wells was accepted to Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C where she will pursue a dual major in government and international affairs.

“Wofford has always been a part of my life because both my parents and my grandfather went there,” Wells said. “When I visited the campus, it just felt like home to me.”

Although Wells will be less than 100 miles away from home, she has her sights set on overseas travel.

“Wofford has a great study abroad program that I want to be a part of,” Wells explained. “The scholarship from the Foundation will ensure I have the funds to participate in study abroad at least once, and hopefully twice.”

Wells hopes her college classes and future study abroad experiences will assist her in becoming a diplomat or U.S. ambassador.

Currently, the Foundation manages more than 60 scholarships. Scholarships may be endowed or funded annually. Criteria for awarding the scholarship are designed by the donors and the Foundation Board of Directors. Endowed scholarships are generated through the investment of permanently-held principals, so that only the income from the principal is used for scholarship awards.

For more information about donating to a scholarship fund or setting up a scholarship through the Haywood County Schools Foundation, contact Executive Director Jenny Wood at 456-2400 or visit www.hcsf.haywood.k12.nc.us.

• Brian Acevedo-Noyola, THS: Charles K. Patterson Memorial
• Ralyn Balance, THS: Waynesville Woman’s Club
• Alexandra Battle, HEC: Smathers Cruso
• Anthony Blazer, PHS: Jack & Louise Sellers Memorial
• Titus Bleckley, PHS: Cruso Friendship Club and Champion Credit Union-Roland Leatherwood
• Azaleah “Azzy” Bradley, HEC: WOW – Lynda Chovan Memorial and Cynthia Shepherd Culbertson Memorial
• Alyssa Bridges, PHS: Haywood Rotary Club
• Olivia Brown, THS: Teresa Kaye Ashe Memorial for Nursing, Scott Sisters, and Cynthia Shepherd Culbertson Memorial
• Ian Bryson, PHS: Haywood Rotary Club
• Wyatt Bucinskas, PHS: Haywood Rotary Club
• Ethan Bumgarner, PHS: Champion Credit Union-Roland Leatherwood
• Hayden Burris, HEC: Frank & Kathryn G. Kirkpatrick Memorial
• Jacob Carver, HEC: Haywood County Schools Foundation
• Peyton Chappell, PHS: Haywood County Schools Foundation
• Hannah Clark, THS: Dr. Mack S. & Beulah Setser Memorial and Elayne Tucker Wadsworth Memorial
• Katherine Clontz, PHS: Reeves Memorial
• Kielynn Cockrell, THS: David Sherrill Memorial
• Lucas Cody, PHS: State Employees Credit Union
• Emma Deaver, PHS: Cruso Friendship Club and Champion Credit Union-Roland Leatherwood
• Presley Denton, PHS: Junaluska Ross-Lance
• Emma Dorgan, THS: Haywood County Schools Foundation
• Aidan East, HEC: Haywood County Schools Foundation
• Evan Easton, PHS: Peggy Melville and United Community Bank
• Ian Enggren, THS: Moses L. Robinson Memorial
• Adam Ensley, HEC: Waynesville Township High School Class of 1961
• Zachary Ensley, HEC: Tommy E. Davis Memorial
• Skylar Fish, THS: Waynesville Township High School Class of 1959
• Ashtyn Frady, PHS: Haywood County Schools Foundation
• Joshua Drake Franklin, PHS: Sportsman’s Club, Altrusa International of Waynesville, and Canopy Realtor Association/Western Region
• Jason Frazier, THS: Junaluska Ross-Lance
• Kinley Gilliam, PHS: Haywood Rotary Club
• James “Tre” Goodman, HEC: Haywood County Schools Foundation
• Jocelyn Green, HEC: State Employees Credit Union
• Macon Haider, PHS: Betty Jean Henson Memorial and James M. & Mary P. Edwards Memorial
• Emerald “Chayse” Hall, HEC: Canton High School Class of 1957 and Clyde Lions Club-Somberg, Mccracken & Hannah
• Julie Harter, HEC: Smathers Cruso
• Joseph Hodge, PHS: Staff Sgt. Michael Parrott Memorial
• Jackson Holland, PHS: Wayne & Grace Plott Memorial
• Emily Ingham, HEC: Quickdraw-Art
• Abigail Jones, THS: Quickdraw-Art and Canopy Realtor Association/Western Region
• Anneke Lam, THS: State Employees Credit Union
• Olivia Masciarelli, THS: Haywood County Democratic Women and Smathers Cruso
• Amanda McCall, THS: Patricia C. Liner, Rn Memorial
• John McCrory, THS: Haywood County Schools Nutrition Association
• Sydney Messer, PHS: PHS Golden Anniversary
• Gracyn Mills, PHS: Champion Credit Union-Roland Leatherwood and QuickDraw-Art
• Zoe Mina, THS: Tuscola Class of 1972
• Tristin Moore, HEC: First Citizens Bank
• Jackson Morgan, PHS: Smathers Cruso
• Isabelle Morris, HEC: Robert E. & Viola Forga and Haywood County Schools Foundation
• Reagan Mulvey, THS: Steve Sutton Memorial, Haywood County Community Band, and Tuscola Class of 1973
• Truongan Nguyen, THS: Haywood Regional Medical Center
• Gabe Nussman, PHS: Haywood Regional Medical Center and Waynesville Township High School Class of 1959
• Jonah Ottie, THS: Haywood Regional Medical Center
• Ephraim Overstreet, HEC: Waynesville Garden Club-Horticulture and Richie’s Alliance
• Xander Parilla, THS: Adeline B. Patrick Memorial, Dr. Charles Isley and Robert A. Campbell Music, Shay Barnes Starnes Memorial, and Haywood County Community Band
• Sara Parrott, PHS: Doris Eugenia Plott Memorial
• John-Paul Pless, PHS: Haywood Regional Medical Center
• Ty Pressel, THS: Haywood County Schools Foundation and QuickDraw-Art
• Morgan Putnam, PHS: Doris Eugenia Plott Memorial and Cynthia Shepherd Culbertson Memorial
• Starr Rathbone, HEC: Machesney Computer Science and Haywood County Democratic Women
• Trinity Reams, THS: Haywood County Fraternal Order of Police, Trooper Anthony Cogdill Memorial, and Waynesville Lions Club-Charles Balentine Sr. Memorial
• Gabbie Reece, THS: Robert E. & Viola Forga
• Ava Rickman, PHS: Haywood County Schools Foundation
• Maria “Josie” Rodriguez, THS: Braden Alcathie Memorial, Haywood County Retired School Personnel, Posey Family, and Altrusa International of Waynesville- Boyd/Ferguson
• Wesley Silveira, THS: United Community Bank and Haywood County Schools Foundation
• Jacob Smith, THS: Haywood County Schools Foundation
• Lawrence Stephenson, HEC: Kinsland Family
• Madison Stewart, PHS: Patricia C. Liner, Rn Memorial
• Stephen Stiles, HEC: Dr. Alan & Rita M. Brown Memorial
• Bailey Stockton, PHS: Reuben B. Robertson Foundation
• Samantha Torres, THS: Waynesville Rotary-Howard Splitt Memorial
• Martin Tox Williams, THS: John C. Howell Memorial
• Natileigh Webb, HEC: Patricia C. Liner, Rn Memorial
• Hannah Wells, THS: James & Betty Scott Memorial and Tuscola Class of 1971
• Logan White, THS: Mark Douglas Parris Memorial and QuickDraw-Art
• Ellie Williams, THS: Waynesville Woman’s Club
• Laken Williams, THS: Scott Sisters
• Luke Wilson, THS: Altrusa International of Waynesville and Tuscola Class of 1973
• Suella Wilson, THS: Waynesville Lions Club-Charles Balentine Sr. Memorial and Scott Sisters
• Bryce Worley, THS: Bill Sease Memorial
• Addison Wyatt, THS: Waynesville Woman’s Club
• Susan Zhang, PHS: Mary Gillis Educational Memorial and Scott Sisters

Tuscola Hosts College Application Day

With college just around the corner for many seniors, Tuscola High School’s counseling center offered students assistance with their applications during the school’s annual College Application Day.

Tuscola’s College Application Day assisted seniors in completing three important college enrollment steps: verifying residency, completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and filling out college applications.

“We’re hoping to see every one of our seniors today to make sure they have post graduation plans,” Julia Plott, Tuscola counselor said. “We’ve been able to provide lots of one-on-one attention and help to seniors.”

Counselors also assisted students with technology, gave out information about scholarships, and discussed career paths with those students planning to enter the workforce directly after graduation.

Representatives from Western Carolina University and Haywood Community College attended the event to answer students’ questions about applications and college life.

All month long, North Carolina has promoted the NC Countdown to College campaign, culminating to College Application Week October 18-22. During that time, many N.C. colleges and universities waived their application fees.

Jonathan Valley Teacher Designs Popular Flood Relief Shirt

Jonathan Valley Elementary School teacher Katelyn Harris is behind the design of the wildly popular Haywood County Strong t-shirt. To date, the online t-shirt fundraiser has raised nearly $19,000 for Haywood County flood victims.

Not long after school began for Haywood County Schools students, the Bethel and Canton areas were hit hard by Tropical Storm Fred. Several of the district’s students lost everything in the flood.

As Harris and others across the county returned to school, volunteers descended on the area to begin cleanup efforts. Harris felt a deep sadness as she looked at pictures of her friends and co-workers shoveling mud out of homes in Bethel and the streets of Canton.

“My friends inspired me because they were working really hard to clean up and help their students,” Harris explained. “I wanted a way to help too.”

As she mulled over ways to help, the thought of a t-shirt fundraiser popped into her head. She grabbed her laptop and began comparing fundraising websites. She settled on Bonfire, a free online platform where anyone can design, sell, and buy custom products for fundraisers.

She began playing around with a design and decided on a simple North Carolina state silhouette with a heart in Haywood County’s location. She added Haywood County Strong to the top of the graphic.

“I felt like the simpler, the better,” Harris said. “I didn’t want to overcomplicate the simple message of ‘Haywood County Strong’ that people in the community had been saying.”

Harris went to the lead teacher and principal at Jonathan Valley to share her idea. They got her in touch with Jenny Wood at the Haywood County Schools Foundation.

Wood worked with Harris to set the fundraiser up, so all money raised would go to the Foundation for dispersal among Haywood County Schools students who were directly affected by the flood.

Once Harris finalized her design, she posted the website link on social media, and principals began sharing the link with their staff members.

“As I was designing the shirt, I figured it would raise maybe $500,” Harris said. “I didn’t really have a lot of expectations.”

Within 24 hours, the t-shirt fundraiser had brought in more than $5,000.

After five weeks of sales, more than 1,000 t-shirts have been ordered from people across the country.

“I was blown away by all the people sharing the link online,” Harris said. “People from all over were buying the shirts. People who didn’t even have direct links to Haywood County were supporting us.”

The majority of orders were from Haywood County, but people from as far away as Oregon and Michigan bought shirts. Harris’ kindergarten teacher from California even bought a shirt.

“I’m not originally from Haywood County, but I’ve fallen in love with the area,” Harris explained. “Everyone in this community is so willing to help each other, and I’m happy that this fundraiser has been so successful.”

The fundraiser is currently closed, but Harris said it could open back up if there’s enough interest to run another batch of shirts. To put your name on the interest list, simply go to www.bonfire.com/hcs and click the “I would buy this” button. The shirts are available in several styles, colors, and sizes, including children’s.

Mandy Allen Named Haywood County Schools Teacher of the Year

Bethel Elementary School fifth grade teacher Mandy Allen was named Haywood County Schools’ 2022 Teacher of the Year at a banquet earlier this month.

Every year, each of the district’s 15 schools selects a Teacher of the Year. A selection committee is then tasked with choosing the district-wide Teacher of the Year after reviewing applications and visiting each teacher’s classroom.

Allen, who has worked in education for 13 years, was selected as the district-wide winner, and runner ups were Norma Warren from Canton Middle School and Heidi Morgan of Pisgah High School.

“Mrs. Allen’s teaching philosophy and skills are evident and have a positive impact on her students, school, and the community,” Dr. Bill Nolte, Haywood County Schools superintendent, said. “She is a great representation of the high caliber of teachers in Haywood County Schools and would represent the state very well as the Regional and State Teacher of the Year.”

Allen’s initial desire to work in education came from her own teachers when she was a student at Hazelwood Elementary School. She said teachers like Lee Messer, Sherri Arrington, and Retha Cabe influenced her early on in her education.

“They always encouraged me to give my best at school, but I also saw the best in them,” Allen said with a smile. “I wanted to be like them.”

Allen laughed as she talked about playing school with her toys and her younger sister in the afternoons as a child. She even asked for an overhead projector for Christmas when she was in 2nd grade and was devastated when Santa did not leave one under the tree.

During her final year of college at Western Carolina University, she completed her student internship with Alma Wells at Bethel Elementary, just two doors down from her current classroom.

Her first job after college graduation was at Bethel Elementary teaching fourth grade. During that time, she met her husband, Brandon. Allen joined her husband in Morganton, N.C. and commuted to Haywood County three days a week while working as a curriculum coach. The commute became too much, and Allen accepted a teaching position in Burke County.

Opportunities arose for Allen’s family, and they moved back to Haywood County in 2017. By that time, Allen and her husband had two young children. She began working part time with the school system as an instructional coach, where she helped teachers apply theory and pedagogy in the classroom.

“After a while, I really began to miss the kids and wanted to be back in the classroom, Allen said. “I missed creating relationships with students and being a more interactive part of their education.”

In 2019, Allen returned to Bethel Elementary as a fifth grade teacher.

At Bethel Elementary, Allen is surrounded by supportive co-workers, who Allen credits with pushing her professionally. Allen and her fellow fifth grade teachers work together during planning periods and after school to create lesson plans, pinpoint common goals, and share the days’ successes and shortcomings.

Sharing ideas and working cooperatively is a necessity among teachers, since fifth grade curriculum covers everything from ecosystems to North American colonization to geometry.

“Mandy was born to be a teacher, and I cannot imagine her being anything else,” Bethel Elementary Principal Heather Hollingsworth said. “The love for her students and the passion she puts forth in making sure they grow as learners and as human beings is unrivaled.”

For nine months, Allen gets to know her students. She finds out their strengths, weaknesses, hobbies, and interests while building relationships that last for years to come.

“I think Mrs. Allen is a good teacher because she’s really nice,” fifth grader Riley Holland said. “She makes everything fair, and we all get a chance to talk.”

Allen takes an interest in her students out of the classroom as well. She can often be found on the weekends watching soccer games, attending dance recitals, or going to the rodeo to show her support for her students. She believes these small gestures of showing care and interest in her students’ lives result in better relationships and success in the classroom.

“Living in the community where I teach and seeing students and their families in the store, at restaurants, and at weekly ballgames is more powerful than I would have ever imagined,” Allen said. “Bethel is a family, and I am so thankful to be part of their lives in all these little moments.”

The effects of Allen’s caring smile, positive attitude, and creative lessons are still felt by former students.

Allen said a pivotal moment in her career came after a mother of a former student reached out to her and thanked her for making a difference in her child. Allen explained that the mother told her about the many hardships her son had faced when he was Allen’s student. She said that through love and support he found at school, he blossomed into the child she thought she had lost forever.

“Up until that moment, I had no idea what this precious child had dealt with when he was my student,” Allen explained. “Teachers change lives, and every word spoken has the power to build up or tear down children.”

Allen admits that teaching has its difficult moments, but that she is committed to continually bettering herself by attending professional development training, creating engaging lesson plans, and looking for innovative resources for her classroom.

“Although I am only a very small piece of their lives, I will love, encourage, and build them up while being so thankful to be called their teacher,” Allen said. “Loving them first for who they are is the most important thing. Then I can teach them.”

As Teacher of the Year, Allen received a monetary award from Haywood County Schools and will be recognized again in the spring with a Pactiv Evergreen award from the Haywood County Schools Foundation. She will also now be considered for the WNC Regional Teacher of the Year award.

Over the next year, Allen will act as an ambassador for teachers throughout the county and will serve on several district-wide committees.

2022 Teachers of the Year from each school include:
• Mandy Allen, Bethel Elementary
• Daniel Trivette, Bethel Middle
• Norma Warren, Canton Middle
• Christy Lawrence, Central Haywood High
• Angela Ledford, Clyde Elementary
• Ryan Brumfield, Haywood Early College
• Lorri Reece, Hazelwood Elementary
• Laura Abbe, Jonathan Valley Elementary
• Michelle Ford, Junaluska Elementary
• Emily Worley, Meadowbrook Elementary
• Samantha Burleson, North Canton Elementary
• Heidi Morgan, Pisgah High
• Ashley Clifton, Riverbend Elementary
• Bill Covin, Tuscola High
• Rachel Yates, Waynesville Middle

Wells and Sharpe Step Into New Leadership Positions


Haywood County Schools began the school year with two new leaders in administrative positions.

Karley Wells came on board as Riverbend Elementary School’s principal after Jill Chamber’s retirement last spring.

Growing up attending Haywood County Schools, Wells never dreamed of working in education.

“My mother was a teacher at Bethel Elementary School, and for years my teachers would tell my parents that I was going to be a teacher,” Wells said with a laugh. “I, on the other hand, wanted to be anything but a teacher, since that was what was expected from me.”

Wells quickly changed her mind after enrolling in the teacher cadet course while she was a student at Pisgah High School. She attended Appalachian State University (ASU) where she earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.

Upon college graduation, Wells returned to Haywood County as a fifth-grade teacher at Clyde Elementary School. While teaching, she took online courses through ASU to earn her master’s degree in school administration.

Wells became an assistant principal at Pisgah High School in 2019 where she reconnected with former Clyde students and gained leadership experience.

“I had no intentions of leaving my Assistant Principal job at Pisgah anytime soon,” Wells said. “But then the perfect opportunity of applying for the principal position at Riverbend arose.”

Although it is the smallest elementary school in the county with close to 200 students, Riverbend Elementary School is one of the strongest performing schools in the state. Riverbend has twice been named a National Blue Ribbon school, an honor based on student performance on state assessments.

Wells intends to continue the reputation that Riverbend has earned.

“Riverbend continues to perform to such a high caliber because of the sense of urgency that comes with every day here at school,” Wells explained. “Our goal at Riverbend is to be the best for our students every day.”

Just a few days after the start of the school year, Haywood County Schools’ new Transportation Director Stephen Sharpe was faced with a flood.

Impassable roads and collapsed bridges made getting students home a challenge for Sharpe and his staff.

“Our staff worked tirelessly to ensure the safety of students and drivers,” Sharpe explained. “The mechanics were all out in the pouring rain walking to stranded buses and driving roads to make sure the paths were clear.”

Sharpe and his team had little time to react to the quickly rising flood waters. He credits his employees and coworkers with keeping students safe.

“Carrol Harkins, one of our drivers for North Canton Elementary, made an awesome decision to not cross a bridge that was quickly overtaken by water,” Sharpe said. “School administrators Amanda Watson, Shawn Paris, and Jill Mann went above and beyond to get students home and stay with students to ensure their safety.”

Sharpe hopes he does not have to face any other catastrophic weather any time soon, but he says his staff is prepared to always get students home safely.

Sharpe was hired as the school district’s transportation director after working 10 years as Clyde Elementary School’s physical education (PE) teacher.

Since 2003, Sharpe has worked with Haywood County Schools. First as a football and baseball coach at Bethel Middle School, then later as PE teacher at Clyde Elementary.

Like Wells, Sharpe is also a native of Haywood County and former Haywood County Schools student. He holds his B.S. in Sociology from Western Carolina University and received his N.C. teaching license in Health and Physical Education.

As transportation director, Sharpe’s first priority is the safety of the school system’s students, drivers, and mechanics. His duties include directing, developing, and implementing overall operations of the transportation network including safety, compliance, equipment, and staff.

Sharpe aims to continue keeping safety the top priority of the transportation department.

“I want to further increase the relationships between bus drivers, mechanics, and administrators, as well as our community,” Sharpe explained. “I also hope that the community appreciates the importance and amazing staff we have in our transportation department.”

Haywood Early College Now an Apple Distinguished School

Earlier this month at a school-wide celebration, Haywood Early College was recognized as an Apple Distinguished School.

Haywood Early College is now part of a growing group of 500 plus schools across 32 countries to earn the honor. Haywood Early College is the only school in the state that was recognized this year, joining three other N.C. schools that have previously earned the distinction.

According to Apple’s website, “Apple Distinguished Schools are centers of leadership and educational excellence that demonstrate Apple’s vision for learning with technology – and we believe some of the most innovative schools in the world. Apple Distinguished School leaders, faculty, and the extended community have a clear vision for how their technology-rich environments support learning goals.”

Apple visited Haywood Early College in 2019 as the school began to explore ways to use technology in the classroom. It was after that visit that the school received an invitation to apply for the award.

“Our faculty took off with this initiative, and we really gained a lot of ground quickly,” Haywood Early College Principal Lori Fox said.

Part of the application process included all teaching faculty become Apple Teacher certified. Each student also has an Apple iPad that is pre-loaded with apps to create an efficient system of learning inside and outside the classroom.

As an Apple Distinguished School, Haywood Early College faculty will have access to a plethora of professional development opportunities.

This month, Fox will attend a meeting with leaders from Apple Distinguished Schools around the world. In addition, teachers can attend an Opportunities to Accelerate Learning Instructional Summit, which will focus on differentiated instruction, building literacy skills, and increasing student engagement with creativity.

Apple also offers teachers 60-minute virtual sessions multiple times a week. September topics range from interactive timelines to visual mathematics to exploring elements of learning.

“The networking opportunities are the most exciting part of the award to me,” Ryan Brumfield, Haywood Early College math teacher said. “We will have the chance to bump elbows with similar schools that teach and learn the way we do.”

Haywood Early College is one of the smallest schools in the district with just 195 students. Since Fox became principal in 2017, the academically rigorous school has cultivated a technology-focused, student-driven learning environment.

“When we envisioned and implemented the Apple technology initiative, that revolutionized learning for our teachers and students,” Fox said. “To nurture innovative world-changers, our students must be fully invested and engaged in learning.”

Fox and her staff encourage students to explore classroom content in unconventional ways. Students have been known to creatively present information to their classmates in the form of movies or books.

“Students are able to create and share information and knowledge the way they want,” Brumfield explained. “They have the opportunity and freedom to express what they’ve learned their way.”

Reflective of the school’s emphasis on innovation, students build traditional reading, writing, and problem-solving skills in fresh ways for topics that they choose using whatever tools work best for their needs.

“I like being able to read our books on the iPads because I can take notes and highlight on the pages without destroying a physical book,” Howard Wiseman, a senior, said. “We’re not boxed in by paper materials here.”

As a result of the school’s technology initiative, Haywood Early College has risen to new heights academically by increasing every accountability model measure and exceeding growth each year. The school tied for first across the state in all K-12 schools for overall proficiency last school year.

“That score is a testament to the hard work of our faculty and students,” Fox said. “We’re excited with these results, but I can tell you for our faculty, our fulfillment comes from the journey of growing our students and the day in and day out of doing school.”

Faculty Grants Open

Applications are now open for 2021 Haywood County Schools Foundation faculty grants.

Grants fund resources for teachers and staff to enrich the learning experience for students and award amounts range from $100 to $850.

“We are so happy to be partnering with businesses in the community to distribute these grants to our hardworking teachers” Haywood County Schools Foundation Executive Director Jenny Wood said. “Teachers use the grants to create innovative lessons, experiments, and projects that are memorable for their students.”

Applications must be submitted electronically at www.hcsf.haywood.k12.nc.us before October 1, 2021. Teachers applying for multiple grants must submit an application for each grant. Grant applications for the Arc of Haywood County have already been emailed to exceptional children (EC) teachers.

Grants are sponsored by Duke Energy, Evergreen Packaging, First Citizens Banks, QuickDraw, the Arc of Haywood County, and the Haywood County Schools Foundation; each requiring different criteria and projects of interest.

The Duke Energy and Evergreen Packaging grants are for projects in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, while the First Citizens grant funds reading initiatives.

The QuickDraw art grant provides funds for art teachers to purchase materials for art education projects.

Professional growth and development are the focus of the Haywood County Schools Foundation grant and is available to teachers, faculty, and staff. Funding for the professional development grants is raised through Haywood County Schools Foundation fundraisers like the Mardi Gras Ball and bingo.

The Arc of Haywood County provides grants to Haywood County Schools’ EC teachers.

Winners will be selected in November after committees representing each grant review applications.

Last year, the Haywood County Schools Foundation gave 137 grants to teachers totaling nearly $38,000.

For more information, contact Haywood County Schools Foundation Executive Director Jenny Wood at jwood@haywood.k12.nc.us or call 828-456-2400.

2021 Scholarship Recipients

The Haywood County Schools Foundation awarded 88 Pisgah, Tuscola, Haywood Early College, and Central Haywood high school seniors with 119 scholarships totaling $229,050 last week. Scholarship amounts ranged from $500 to $40,000.

Typically, students are surprised at school with the news, but this year student were notified via e-mail.

“Our students have gone through so much over the past year and a half, and I’m so happy we are able to reward these hard-working students with scholarships,” Jenny Wood, Haywood County Schools Foundation executive director, said. “Virtual school was an adjustment for them, but students stepped up and continued to excel in their academics.”

Currently, the Foundation manages more than 60 scholarships. Scholarships may be endowed or funded annually. Criteria for awarding the scholarship are designed by the donors and the Foundation Board of Directors. Endowed scholarships are generated through the investment of permanently-held principals, so that only the income from the principal is used for scholarship awards.

For more information about donating to a scholarship fund or setting up a scholarship through the Haywood County Schools Foundation, contact Executive Director Jenny Wood at 456-2400 or visit www.hcsf.haywood.k12.nc.us.

• Charlotte Allsbrook, HEC: QuickDraw-Art
• Riley Beaulieu, HEC: Patricia C. Liner, RN Memorial
• Samuel Beaulieu, HEC: Waynesville Garden Club-Horticulture
• William Bradford, PHS: Doris Plott Memorial
• Shelby Bramlett, PHS: Junaluska Ross-Lance
• Alesea Caldwell, THS: Mark Douglas Parris Memorial and Robert E. & Viola Forga
• William Caldwell, THS: Haywood County Community Band
• Hudson Carver, PHS: Kinsland Family
• Christine Case, THS: Altrusa International of Waynesville- Hammett and WOW – Lynda Chovan Memorial
• Sarah Cauley, THS: Patricia C. Liner, RN Memorial
• Laurel Causby, THS: SECU People Helping People
• Alexander Collins, PHS: Altrusa International of Waynesville-Arnold, Gene Haas Foundation, and Justin Inman Memorial
• Madelyn Rilee Conard, PHS: SECU People Helping People
• Leandra Davis, PHS: Frank & Kathryn G. Kirkpatrick Memorial, Mary Gillis Educational Memorial, and Sonoma Masonic Lodge
• Tanner Devlin, PHS: Haywood County Schools Foundation
• Trent Devlin, PHS: Haywood County Schools Foundation
• Hannah Douville, CHHS: Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of WNC-Vocational
• Emily Duvall, THS: Tuscola Class of 1973 and Waynesville Lions Club-Charles Balentine Sr. Memorial
• M. Alexis Enggren, HEC: United Community Bank
• Victoria Estes, THS: Haywood County Schools Foundation and Waynesville Woman’s Club
• Kain Fortney, THS: Haywood County Schools Foundation
• Andjelka Francis, PHS: Canopy Realtor Association/Western Region
• Veronica Funes, HEC: Haywood County Schools Foundation
• Emorie Gibson, PHS: Haywood Rotary Club
• Kathryn Grace Glance, THS: Champion Credit Union-Roland Leatherwood and Smathers Cruso
• Tanner Glance, PHS: Betty Jean Henson Memorial
• Brady Goolsby, PHS: Canton High School Class of 1957
• Joshua Green, THS: United Community Bank
• Logan Green, PHS: Haywood County Schools Foundation
• Karaline Griffin, THS: Haywood County Schools Nutritution
• Charlee Hall, PHS: Smathers Cruso
• Rachel Harden, THS: James & Betty Scott Memorial
• Sage Weaver, THS: Reeves Memorial
• Emma Hendricks, THS: Haywood County Schools Foundation
• Laura Hickox, PHS: PHS Golden Anniversary and Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of WNC-Vocational
• Logan Hicks, PHS: James M. & Mary P. Edwards Memorial
• Skylar Higdon, PHS: Clyde Lions Club-Somberg, McCracken & Hannah and Scott Sisters
• William Hodge, PHS: Haywood Rotary Club, Paul Willis JROTC Memorial, and Staff Sgt. Michael Parrott Memorial
• Caleb Holcomb, PHS: Adeline B. Patrick Memorial and Haywood Regional Medical Center
• Jackson Holland, PHS: Haywood Regional Medical Center
• William Holshue, THS: Haywood County Schools Foundation
• Bailey Hooper, THS: Sportsman’s Cllub
• Lillian Howell, THS: Canopy Realtor Association/Western Region and Peggy Melville
• Aidan Keefe, PHS: Louise Sellers Memorial
• Clark Larson, THS: Tuscola Class of 1973
• Sophia Lee, THS: Haywood Healthcare Foundation and Waynesville Lions Club-Charles Balentine Sr. Memorial
• Hannah Leopard, THS: Scott Sisters
• Emily Lyda, THS: Charles K. Patterson Memorial
• Chloe Maier, PHS: Champion Credit Union-Roland Leatherwood and Robert E. & Viola Forga
• Amanda Jayde Markley, THS: Champion Credit Union-Roland Leatherwood and Haywood Regional Medical Center
• Joshua Mashburn, THS: Smathers Cruso
• Maggie McCracken, PHS: Champion Credit Union-Roland Leatherwood and Reuben B. Robertson Foundation
• Hailey McMahan, THS: David Sherrill Memorial
• Levi Medford, PHS: Haywood County Fraternal Order of Police and Master Trooper Calvin E. Taylor Memorial
• Elisabeth Michael, PHS: Smathers Cruso
• Daniel Moody, THS: Buddy Chandler Scholarship
• Kendall Myers, THS: Waynesville Woman’s Club
• Louis Nieves, PHS: Haywood Rotary Club
• Olivia Owens, PHS: Altrusa International of Waynesville- Prevost and Haywood County Democratic Women
• Anna Phillips, PHS: Altrusa International of Waynesville and Haywood County Democratic Women
• Brooks Pressley, THS: Sharon Blankenship AEOP
• Ava Queen, PHS: Patricia C. Liner, RN Memorial
• Camille Rathbone, PHS: Dr. Mack S. & Beulah Setser Memorial and Plott Memorial
• Payton Renegar, THS: Haywood County Schools Foundation
• William Rhodarmer, PHS: Pepsi-Cola Bottling Co. of WNC-Vocational
• Caleb Richie, THS: Bill Sease Memorial
• Julia Robertson, PHS: Teresa Kaye Ashe Memorial for Nursing
• Sierra Rupe, THS: Posey Family
• John Schreiber, THS: John C. Howell Memorial
• Hannah Grace Shipman, THS: Waynesville Woman’s Club
• Justin Shuler, THS: Junaluska Ross-Lance
• Ryan Stebbins, THS: Haywood Regional Medical Center
• Marissa Thorman, CHHS: Nick Mastriana Memorial
• Caitlin Traber, THS: Scott Sisters
• Brandon Trantham, CHHS: Reeves Family Memorial
• Hali Trull, THS: B. L. Upton, Sr. & D. E. Tingle Memorial and Haywood County Retired School Personnel
• Jaden Tyson, THS: Elayne Tucker Wadsworth Memorial
• Kacy Vanden Bergh, THS: Altrusa International of Waynesville- Holland and Cynthia Shepherd Culbertson Memorial
• Faith Vang, HEC: Altrusa International of Waynesville, First Citizens Bank, and Scott Sisters
• Trenton Wantz, PHS: Jeff Simmons Memorial and Moses L. Robinson Memorial
• Connor Wayman, HEC: Altrusa International of Waynesville- Overbeck
• Trevor Wester, PHS: Haywood County Schools Foundation
• Abigail Westmoreland, THS: Tuscola Class of 1972
• Megan Williams, HEC: Machesney Computer Science
• Emma Willis, PHS: Cynthia Shepherd Culbertson Memorial and Haywood Rotary Club
• Savannah Lenora Wilson, THS: Dr. Alan & Rita M. Brown Memorial and Richie’s Alliance
• Mckenzie Yazan, THS: Shay Barnes Starnes Memorial
Noah Ziglar, HEC: SECU People Helping People and Tommy E. Davis Memorial