2024 Black History Month Honorees

Black leaders in public education have a profound impact not only on their students, but to the communities in North Carolina that they faithfully serve. The following is a collection of professionals carefully selected for their years of experience, their career-long achievements and the legacy they leave for generations to come. The North Carolina African American Heritage Commission joins Governor Roy Cooper and his team in recognizing these outstanding honorees. They have made substantial and groundbreaking contributions to the education landscape in North Carolina. We celebrate them with great expectations for the future.

Black History Month 2024 - Celebrating Leaders in Education


  • Xavier Adams
  • Betty Allen
  • Bobby Allen
  • Tomika Altman-Lewis
  • Nicole Bailey
  • Rep. Amber Baker
  • NaShonda Bender-Cooke
  • Chiquita Boyd
  • Maggie Poole Bryant
  • Blanchie Carter
  • Brianna Carter, Ed. S
  • Dr. Kisha Clemons
  • Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr.
  • Asia Cunningham
  • Eddie Davis III
  • Coach Bobby Dunn
  • Geraldine Farrow
  • Eugenia Floyd
  • Juandalynn Freeman-Sankey
  • Melanee Duncan Friday
  • Dr. Alice J. Garrett
  • Carla Gilchrist
  • Rep. Rosa Gill
  • Minnie Goins
  • Maurice "Mo" Green
  • Dee Grissett
  • Steven Gupton
  • Addie Scipio Hagans
  • Rep. Zack Hawkins
  • Beverly Henderson
  • Dr. Crystal Hill
  • Rebecca Hunt
  • Rep. Frances Jackson, PhD
  • Kimberly Jones
  • Matyre Knight
  • Victoria Lightfoot
  • Gloria Lloyd
  • Rufus Lloyd
  • Dr. William T. Logan
  • Dr. John Harding Lucas
  • Katherine Lucas
  • Denise McCoy
  • Elyse Cannon McRae
  • Nodia Mena
  • Maurice Myers
  • Lisa Oglesby
  • Sean Parrish
  • Sabrina Peacock
  • Alma Phifer
  • Inez Sophia Richardson
  • Queen Scarborough
  • Wendell Tabb
  • Virginia Tally
  • Marilyn Que Tucker
  • Ainsley VanBuskirk
  • Sen. Joyce Waddell
  • Tamika Walker Kelly
  • Virginia Wall
  • Corey White
  • Precious Williams

Honoree Biographies

 Xavier Adams (Orange County)

Xavier Adams is originally from Kansas City, Kansas. He teaches at Orange County High School in Hillsborough, where he teaches AP African American Studies, Honors African American Studies, Honors Latin American Studies, and World History. Adams initially pursued a career in the church; his work in non-profits that serve children inspired him to transition to the field of Education. As a teacher, Adams is passionate about equity and serves as the chair of his school’s Equity Team and as co-chair of the school’s Minority Achievers Program.

Adams was named the 2022 Prudential North Carolina Beginning Teacher of the Year by the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching. He earned an undergraduate degree in Ethics and Spanish from Baylor University, a Master of Theological Studies from Duke Divinity School, and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Duke University.

Bobby Allen (Wake County)

Bobby Allen is a native of Raleigh and attended Crosby-Garfield Elementary School. He is a graduate of J.W. Ligon Jr./Sr. High School in Raleigh. Upon graduation from Ligon, he served in the United States Air Force honorably for four years and is a Vietnam veteran. He attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha and received his BS degree from Marymount College in Kansas. After graduating from Marymount College, he received a graduate degree in Administration and Supervision of Education from North Carolina Central University. He retired from the Wake County Public School System after thirty years of service. During that time, he was a teacher at Knightdale and Lockhart Elementary School, assistant football and basketball coach at East Wake High School, and assistant principal, associate principal, and principal of W.G. Enloe Magnet High School and West Cary Middle School. He retired from the Wake County Public School System as the Director of the School/Community Helping Hands Mentoring Program.

Betty Allen (Wake County)

Betty W. Allen is from South Carolina, where she taught for one year before getting married and moving to Omaha, Nebraska, with her husband. After teaching in Nebraska for one year, they moved to Salina, Kansas. There, she taught in a non-graded departmentalized elementary school for over eight years. Her principal selected her to supervise four educators for two years (school/community/university) as she participated in the Teacher Core Cycle VII Project. Ultimately, Mrs. Allen and her family moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, where she taught at Fred A. Olds Magnet Elementary School for eleven years prior to being the Assistant Principal there. Mrs. Allen was also the assistant principal at Clarence Poe International/Technology/Montessori Elementary School and Bugg Magnet Elementary. Mrs. Allen received her Bachelor of Science degree from Morris College, a master's degree from Kansas State University, and Certification for Administration and Supervision from North Carolina Central University. During her tenure in the Wake County Public School System, she served as a mentor for a new teacher for three years until the teacher reached career status. She was also trained to teach teachers in the Effective Teachers Training Model, where she facilitated workshops for classroom and substitute teachers. Mrs. Allen’s professional career spanned over thirty-five years. She taught in the classroom for twenty-one years and was an assistant principal for the remaining years. Mrs. Allen was selected twice as Teacher of the Year at Fred Olds Elementary and was a semifinalist for Assistant Principal of the Year for Wake County Public Schools. She retired in 2004.

Tomika Altman-Lewis (Wake County)

Tomika Altman-Lewis is an educator with 19 years of experience. She has taught K-12th grades and has taught a variety of subjects, from gifted education to family and consumer sciences. She currently serves as an Elementary Intervention Coordinating Teacher in the Wake County Public School System. Altman-Lewis is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including a Kenan Fellowship, an NC Science Leadership Association fellowship, and the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award for Mathematics and Science Teachers. Altman-Lewis serves on the Governor’s Teacher Advisory Committee.

Nicole Bailey (Wake County)

Nicole Bailey is a 5th-grade teacher at Wiley Magnet Elementary School. She was named Wiley’s Teacher of the Year award in 2023. Bailey has been teaching 3rd through 6th grades since 2005. She spent her first 11 years teaching in Prince George's County, Maryland, where she was born and raised and has been teaching in Wake County since 2016. Bailey earned a bachelor's degree from Howard University. She also earned a Master's in Education and a Graduate Certificate in Gifted Education from Johns Hopkins University.

Rep. Amber Baker, PhD (Forsyth County)

Rep. Amber Baker, PhD was born in Louisville, Kentucky. She earned a BS in Elementary Education from Winston-Salem State University and an MA and PhD from Ohio State University. Bep. Baker's career experience includes working as the principal of Kimberley Park School in Winston-Salem and as the principal consultant with Beyond Expectations Consultants.

NaShonda Bender-Cooke (Wake County)

NaShonda Bender-Cooke is an award-winning and internationally recognized eighth-generation educator and a veteran of North Carolina’s public school system. She is a National Board-Certified Teacher and received her master's in special education from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2010. Cooke is active in several roles advocating for marginalized students, such as increasing the number of educators of color in schools. She serves as Vice Chair for Governor Roy Cooper’s Teacher Education Advisory Committee. Ms. Bender-Cooke teaches at Millbrook Magnet High School and lives in Raleigh.

Chiquita Boyd (Mecklenburg County)

Chiquita Boyd has been an educator for nearly 20 years. She has served as an Assistant Principal, Dean of Students, Academic Facilitator, and high school English teacher for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. She is a Senior High Assistant Principal for Metro School in Charlotte. Metro School, a public school within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system, serves exclusively serves students who are cognitively disabled. Boyd is a graduate of Gardner-Webb University, Queens University of Charlotte, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Maggie Pool Bryant (Durham County)

Maggie Poole Bryant was born in 1915 and, at 108 years old, is the oldest living alumna of North Carolina Central University. Ms. Bryant grew up in Rocky Mount and spent her summers in the Hayti community in Durham. She began her career as a librarian, English teacher, and History teacher in Creedmoor, North Carolina. She then served as the librarian at George Washington Carver High School in Kannapolis from 1947 to 1967, when the school was closed due to integration. She retired in 1982.

Ms. Bryant earned a BA in History and English from NCCU and was active in the University’s choir. She later returned to NCCU, earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in Library Science.

Blanchie Carter (Moore County)

Blanchie Carter is an educator who broke down racial barriers in Moore County. She taught at Sandhills for 18 years, then took a position as the first Black woman to serve as principal of Southern Pines Elementary. She was later elected as the first Black woman to serve on the Moore County Board of Education. She and her husband, Coach Nat Carter, were awarded the Order of the Longleaf Pine in 2019. Blanchie Carter Discover Park at Southern Pines Elementary is named in her honor. Carter is a member of the Omicron Omega Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Brianna Carter (Mecklenburg County)

Brianna L. Carter is a New Jersey native who earned degrees in psychology, African American studies, secondary education, and administrative leadership.  While she's lived in a half dozen states, she and her husband have put down roots in Charlotte, North Carolina, where they're raising their three daughters.  Now in her nineteenth year of teaching and second year at Palisades High School, her passion for education has only grown; she is invested in the next generation of thinkers and leaders, knowing that their preparation is required for them to inherit and lead this world. 


Dr. Kisha Clemons (Warren County)

Dr. Kisha Clemons, born in Catawba County, is the Chief Academic Officer for Warren County Schools. An alumnus of the NC Principal Fellows and NC Teaching Fellows programs, she has served as a principal, assistant principal, teacher, and middle school band director. She has worked with Beaufort County Schools, Warren County Schools, Catawba County Schools, Rowan-Salisbury Schools, and Newton-Conover City Schools.

Clemons was named the 2020 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year for her work as principal at Shuford Elementary School. In 2018, Shuford Elementary was recognized as a National Title I Distinguished School under her leadership.

Dr. Clemons earned a BS in Music Education and an MA in School Administration from Appalachian State University. She earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership from UNC Greensboro in December 2023.

Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr. (Cumberland County)

Dr. Marvin Connelly, Jr. has been a public educator for over 30 years. He has served as the Superintendent for Cumberland County Schools since 2018. Dr. Connelly began his career as a special education teacher and served as the Chief of Staff for Wake County Schools from 2012-2018.

As an Army veteran, Dr. Connelly has earned several awards for his leadership and role in establishing military-friendly practices in Cumberland County Schools. These awards include the 2021 and 2020 National Magna Award, the North Carolina State Superintendent’s Purple Start District Award, and the NAACP Educator of the Year Award. He was recently named the 2024 A. Craig Phillips North Carolina Superintendent of the Year.

Dr. Connelly earned a BA in Political Science and graduate degrees in special education and school administration, all from North Carolina State University. He also holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from East Carolina University.

Asia Cunningham (Durham County)

Asia Cunningham is the Principal of Pearsontown Elementary School in Durham. She is the first person from Durham County Schools to win the Milken Award (2023), also known as the “Oscars of Teaching.” Under her leadership, Pearsontown Elementary was recognized as a 2021 National Blue Ribbon School, a National PTA School of Excellence, and a Magnet School of America. Cunningham embraces a leadership style that centers the whole child, including their social and emotional needs. She is known for her use of data to drive instructional practices and her commitment to engaging with families.

Cunningham earned a BS in Criminal Justice from North Carolina Central University, an MA in Teaching from Walden University, and a Master of School Administration from North Carolina Central University.

Eddie Davis III (Durham County)

Eddie Davis III is a renowned educator, administrator, and public servant. He spent most of his four-decade career as an English teacher at Hillside High School. At Hillside, Davis successfully led a group of students in lobbying the General Assembly to ratify the 24th Amendment retroactively. He encouraged his students to make an impact on the world and has continued that work in retirement as an advocate for the inclusion of local history and the stories of historically marginalized people in state historical markers and public spaces.

Davis also has a long history of public service. He was appointed to serve on the State Board of Education in 1993. He later served as the President of the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE, 2004-2008), where he successfully led a campaign to increase teacher salaries. Nationally, he served on the National Education Association’s (NEA) executive committee and on its Committee on Federal Legislation. As a Durham-based politician, Davis has worked to support education and the rights of marginalized people. He has engaged in local, state, national, and international social justice initiatives.

Davis holds a BA in English from Elizabeth City State University and a teacher certification from North Carolina Wesleyan College. He is a recipient of the NCAE Human Relations Award.

Coach Bobby Dunn (Nash County)

Coach Bobby Dunn worked as a science teacher and coach in Nash County and was Governor Roy Cooper’s high school basketball coach. He began his career at segregated Central Nash High School, where he coached and taught science. He took a position at Northern Nash High School in 1971, where he started as the Junior Varsity coach. He became head basketball coach in 1972. In addition to coaching basketball, Dunn also served as an assistant football coach and assistant track coach. He also coached sports in the community during the summer, including a summer basketball program open to all boys in Nash County.

Coach Dunn earned a master’s degree in social studies and physical education. He now lives in Zebulon and volunteers at Zebulon Middle School.

Geraldine Farrow (Wilson County)

Mrs. Geraldine W. Farrow taught from 1956 to 1993, an astounding 37 years. Born into a family that valued education, she developed a passion for teaching at an early age. A graduate of Shaw University, Mrs. Farrow's entire career was in Wilson County Schools, where she faced numerous challenges over the years but never wavered in her commitment to her students' success.  Her innovative teaching methods and unwavering dedication quickly earned her a reputation as an exceptional educator.

Over the years, Mrs. Farrow touched the lives of thousands of students, instilling in them not only knowledge but also values such as perseverance and empathy. She believed that education was not limited to textbooks but extended to fostering personal growth and character development. Her impact on the community was immeasurable, with former students often returning to express their gratitude for her guidance. As Mrs. Farrow retired after 37 years of service, she left behind a legacy that will forever be cherished by those whose lives she touched. Her passion for teaching and unwavering dedication serve as an inspiration for all educators striving to make a difference in the world through education.

Eugenia Floyd (Orange County)

Eugenia Floyd, who was raised in Chapel Hill, currently serves as the Equity Specialist for Instructional Equity for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools. Floyd began her career as a teaching assistant at Morris Grove Elementary School, then taught 4th grade at Mary Scroggs Elementary, both in Chapel Hill. While at Scroggs, she was named the 2021 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year. She is passionate about equity in the field of education and serves as an advisor to several boards, including the North Carolina State Board of Education.

Floyd earned a BA in History from UNC Greensboro, a K-6 teaching licensure from North Carolina Central University, and an AIG licensure and graduate degree in Gifted Education from Elon University.

Juandalynn Freeman-Sankey (Sampson County)

Juandalynn Freeman-Sankey, known as Lynn, is an experienced educator with over 26 years of experience in public and private schools. Freeman-Sankey has held various roles, including teacher, curriculum specialist, and student services coordinator. Notably, she was named Sandhills Teacher of the Year in 2016-2017 and was a finalist for North Carolina Teacher of the Year. She serves on Governor Roy Cooper’s Teacher Advisory Committee and is the secretary of the Sampson Community College Foundation Board. Freeman-Sankey serves as a full-time faculty member in the Education Department of Sampson Community College, leading the Teacher Licensure Preparation program. Freeman-Sankey is dedicated to increasing the teacher pipeline with qualified educators, ensuring effective instruction and student achievement.

Melanee Duncan Friday (Mecklenburg County)

Melanee Duncan Friday, born and raised in Charlotte, is the principal of Lawrence Orr Elementary School. She has worked for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools for most of her career, serving as an assistant principal, student placement specialist, and career and technical education teacher. She has also served as a principal with Guilford County Schools. She has been an educator for over 25 years.

Duncan earned a BA in Communications from UNC-Chapel Hill, an MS in Organizational Change and Leadership from Pfeiffer University, and an Administration and Supervision license from UNC Charlotte.

Carla Gilchrist (Orange County)

Carla Gilchrist has been an educator for 31 years. She is currently a 2nd-grade teacher at Glenwood Elementary School in Chapel Hill. She was the 2004 Teacher of the Year for Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools and received the NC Public School Foundation Jeannette Blackwell Mentor Teacher Award in 2018. Gilchrist earned a master’s degree in elementary education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from North Carolina Central University. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Rep. Rosa Gill (Wake County)

Rep. Rosa Gill, a longtime mathematics teacher in Wake County, is a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives, representing District 33. She assumed office on June 18, 2009. Her current term ends on January 1, 2025. Rep. Gill, a Democrat, ran for re-election to the North Carolina House of Representatives to represent District 33. She won in the general election on November 8, 2022. Gill earned a BS in Mathematics from Shaw University. She is a retired state employee.

Minnie Goins (Robeson County)

Minnie Goins is a product of North Carolina public schools who grew up as a farm girl in Robeson County. She has twenty-plus years of educational experience, including work as a before and after-school care group leader, teacher assistant, and substitute teacher while earning her undergraduate degree as a North Carolina Central University Teaching Fellow. She began her teaching career in Chatham County, where she taught both 4th and 5th grades, before moving to Durham to teach 5th grade at E.K. Powe Elementary School. In the interim, she also taught Instructional Media at Durham Technical Community College before pursuing graduate studies in School Administration as a Principal Fellow at UNC Chapel Hill. She then worked as an administrator at Glenwood Elementary School in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools district. She later worked as a magnet coordinator in Durham before returning to administration as an assistant principal and principal at Efland-Cheeks Global Elementary in Orange County.

Maurice "Mo" Green (Guilford County)

Maurice “Mo” Green is a retired school administrator and nonprofit leader who is currently running for North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction. He began his career as a lawyer but shifted to school administration as general counsel for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. He became an administrator with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, first as Chief Operating Officer and then as Deputy Superintendent. He served as Superintendent of Guilford County Schools from 2008-2016. At Guilford County Schools, Green wrote the district’s first strategic plan and was named the 2014 Distinguished Educator of the Year by the NC Association of Supervision and Curriculum. He then served as the Executive Director of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation from 2016 until his retirement in 2023.

Green is the recipient of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Education Award and the National School Public Relations Association’s Bob Grossman Leadership in School Communications Award. He holds a Bachelor of Political Science and Economics from Duke University and a Juris Doctorate from Duke University School of Law.

Dee Grissett (Robeson County)

Dee Grissett has been an educator for 19 years and is a Career and Technical Education (CTE) Coordinator with the Public Schools of Robeson County. She is an alumna of Johnson C. Smith University and Fayetteville State University. Prior to working with the public school system, Dee worked for eighteen years as a Financial Aid Counselor in the college setting. Her platform for all of her life has been education and service. Grissett had previously served as the president of the Robeson County Association of Educators. She currently serves on the Governor’s Teacher Advisory Committee.

Steven Gupton (Durham County)

Steven Gupton serves as a Beginning Teacher Coach for Durham Public Schools, leveraging his extensive experience in education and mentorship. Previously, he worked as a Career and Technical Education (CTE) teacher at James E. Shepard IB Magnet Middle School. A proud graduate of Louisburg High School, Steven's journey in education began after serving as a paramedic in the local community, where he developed a strong commitment to serving others. With a deep understanding of the challenges students face, drawn from his own experiences as the son of an incarcerated parent, Gupton is dedicated to fostering connections and relationships with students to ensure they feel valued and supported. Gupton currently serves on the Governor’s Teacher Advisory Committee.

Addie Scipio Hagans (Wilson County)

Addie Scipio Hagans, born in Chadburn, NC in 1928, is a retired teacher from Wilson. Hagans taught at Frederick Douglass High School (Elm City), Darden High School (Wilson), and (following Darden’s closure due to desegregation), Fike High School (Wilson). She taught English, served as English Department chair, and advised the drama and debate teams. She is fond of Shakespeare and loves music and singing.

Hagans is active in Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; she is a member of the Gamma Beta Omega Chapter and has received numerous honors from her sorority. She was a finalist for North Carolina Teacher of the Year in 1979, was inducted into the Darden High School Alumni Association Hall of Fame, and was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Governor Pat McCrory in 2015. Hagans earned an undergraduate degree in English with a minor in Library Science from North Carolina College (now North Carolina Central University) and an M.Ed. from Duke University.

Rep. Zack Hawkins (Durham County)

Zack Hawkins has served in leadership roles at the local, state, and national levels, most recently as 1st Vice Chair of the North Carolina Democratic Party. In this role, he was able to see several plans to fruition, including his initiatives to increase voter registration and fight voter suppression. He has served as a teacher in Durham Public Schools (Southern High School) and works every day to help remove financial barriers for those who need it most. He serves as a development and advancement professional for nonprofits such as the United Way and for higher education institutions such as East Carolina University, Duke University, and UNC-Chapel Hill. Hawkins received a BS in Biology from Elizabeth City State University and an MS in Biology from North Carolina Central University.

Beverly Allen Henderson (Wilson County)

Biography coming soon.




Dr. Crystal Hill (Mecklenburg County)

Dr. Crystal Hill is the first African American woman to serve as Superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. She began her career as a 1st-grade teacher in Guilford County. Dr. Hill has also served as Chief of Staff for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Chief Academic Officer for Cabarrus County Schools, and has worked for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. She currently serves on the Leading on Opportunity Council and, in 2020, co-chaired the North Carolina State Board of Education Literacy Task Force.

Dr. Hill earned a Bachelor of Elementary Education and a Master of Instructional Technology, both from North Carolina A&T University and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Garner-Webb University.

Rebecca Hunt (Durham County)

Rebecca Hunt was born in Vance County and raised in Kittrell. She is a retired Durham County Public Schools Administrator, where she served as Coordinator of Elementary Education, Elementary Supervisor, and Reading Specialist Supervisor. She also served as a school volunteer and substitute teacher. During her time at Durham County Public Schools, Hunt worked to involve parents in their children's education through workshops, presentations, and a program on local television.

Hunt has served on the education committee for the NC Museum of Life and Science in Durham and is a member of The Links, Inc. She is a graduate of Winston-Salem Teacher’s College (now Winston-Salem State University).

Rep. Frances Jackson (Cumberland County)

Dr. Jackson has had an extensive career in state and local government. After college, she served 11 years as a transportation and community planner for the Cumberland County Planning Department. She then served as a Zoning Administrator and Transportation Director in Hoke County and a transit analyst for the City of Fayetteville. Dr. Jackson taught high school civics and economics at Hoke County High School. Most recently, Dr. Jackson served as a Cumberland County Magistrate. Jackson has served on several local boards, including the Hope Mills Zoning Commission and the Cumberland County ABC Board, and on several scholarship committees.

Kimberly Jones (Orange County)

Kimberly Jones, born in Erwin, North Carolina, is a veteran educator and the 2023 Burroughs Wellcome Fund North Carolina Teacher of the Year. Jones is passionate about addressing systemic inequities and pedagogical barriers that contribute to learning disparities. Her personal platform as Teacher of the Year advocates for school curricula that is diverse, inclusive, and culturally responsive.

Jones has taught at Chapel Hill High School (CHHS) for 17 years. She previously taught at Governor’s School West. She co-coordinates the CHHS.

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program and teaches an honors AVID class. She completed her undergraduate studies and earned a Master of Education from Wake Forest University.

Matyre Latta Knight (Wilson County)

Matyre Latta Knight graduated with honors from the John W. Ligon High School (Wake County) in the class of 1960. She then enrolled at Shaw University, where she earned a BS in Sociology with a double minor in Psychology and History. She furthered her education at Hampton University, East Carolina University, and Atlantic Christian College, earning a degree in Early Childhood Education. She used her knowledge and experiences to teach the children who were placed in her guardianship to study hard, dream big, read, learn much, and aspire to be the very best that they could be. She taught high school Social Studies in Columbia, NC for two years and elementary education in the Wilson County Public Schools for thirty-eight years, a total of forty years of dedicated service.

Knight earned the Teacher of the Year honors at Gardners Elementary School and was selected and published twice in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers. She volunteered as a tutor for the HOSTS Program, Jackson Chapel Church after-school program, and the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club. She worked as a substitute teacher, private tutor, and as a homebound teacher. Knight is active in her church and community and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Victoria Lightfoot (Wake County)

Victoria Lightfoot is an Instructional Coach at Millbrook Magnet Elementary School. As an instructional coach, she supports teachers in implementing the math curriculum. She is known for incorporating engaging activities, art, and music in her lessons. Lightfoot has also worked as a 3rd-grade teacher at Cedar Fork Elementary School, where she coordinated a new teacher’s mentorship program and established a group focused on equity issues. She has written curriculum for Wake County Public Schools and for the North Carolina Museum of Art.

Lightfoot received the Milken Educator Award, also known as the “Oscars of Teaching,” in 2021 and was awarded the Lowell Milken Center Fellowship in 2023. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and a master’s degree in K-8 Math and Science from Slippery Rock University in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania.

Gloris Andrew Lloyd (Bladen County)

Gloris Andrews Lloyd is a retired educator. Lloyd taught for Bladen County Schools for 34 years. She was one of three African American teachers who taught at Bladenboro Elementary School following integration. Lloyd is an alumna of Winston-Salem State University (1960, primary school teaching certificate). She is married to fellow educator Rufus Lloyd. The couple lives in Elizabethtown.


Rufus Lloyd (Bladen County)

Rufus Lloyd was born in Carver’s Creek. He is a retired school administrator and social studies teacher. He served as an educator for over 30 years at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Lloyd helped to lead Bladen County’s schools through the process of integration. He was one of the first Black teachers to do this in rural North Carolina. In addition to his service as an educator, Lloyd has served the city of Elizabethtown for decades. He served on the Elizabethtown Planning Board for 35 years and currently serves as Elizabethtown’s Mayor Pro Tem.

Lloyd holds an undergraduate degree from North Carolina A&T University, where he was a student during the Greensboro Sit-Ins, and a Master of Administration and Supervision from Fayetteville State University. He is married to fellow educator Gloris Lloyd. The couple has known one another since the first grade. They live in Elizabethtown.

Dr. William Logan (Durham County)

Dr. William Logan has served as the Principal of Hillside High School since 2012. Dr. Logan began his career as an English teacher in South Carolina. He relocated to North Carolina in 2003, serving as a principal in Wake and Durham counties. He was a North Carolina Principal of the Year Finalist (North Central Region) in 2023, a 2014 recipient of the NC Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development Outstanding Young Educator Award, the 2017 North Carolina Association of Student Councils Administrator of the Year and recipient of the 1998 Sallie Mae Outstanding First Year Teacher Award. In 2023, he received a Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award from President Joe Biden.

Dr. Logan is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. He earned a Master of Education degree in Counselor Education from South Carolina State University and a Ph.D. in Education Administration and Supervision from the University of Mississippi.

Dr. John Harding Lucas (Durham County)

Dr. John Harding Lucas, born in Rocky Mount, is a retired science teacher, coach, school administrator, and education leader. He served as an educator for over 60 years. Dr. Lucas first taught in Kinston, North Carolina, and later took a position at Hillside High School in Durham. He was named the North Carolina.

Principal of the Year while principal at Hillside. He is a tireless advocate for youth, education, and social justice.

Dr. Lucas is also known for the “Lucas Concept,” a plan that allowed the successful integration of the (white) North Carolina Education Association and the (African American) North Carolina Teachers Association. He proposed that a new organization, the North Carolina Association of Educators, be established rather than merging the two organizations. He was elected to serve on the first Durham School Board following integration. He later served as President of Shaw University in Raleigh.

Dr. Lucas received the North Carolina Award for Public Service from Governor Pat McCrory in 2013. He earned a Bachelor of Science from Shaw University, a Master of Arts from North Carolina Central University, and an Advance Study in Education certificate from New York University.

Katherine Neal Lucas (Nash County)

Katherine Neal Lucas is a retired Rocky Mount Senior High School English teacher. She was named the Human Relations Committee Teacher of the Year in 1982. Lucas is known for her dedication to her students and to public service. She is active in active alumna of Nash Central High School and has served as the corresponding secretary for the Eastern NC Chapter of Bennett College National Alumnae. She is also active with the local chapter of the American Association of University Women. She has been recognized for her many years of service with the Braswell Library in Rocky Mount as a volunteer, advocate, and former president of the Friends of Braswell Library.

Lucas has been a member of Delta Sigma Theta for nearly 70 years. The Rocky Mount Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Honored Lucas with the Jabberwock dedication in 2005 and again in 2023. She is an alumna of Bennett College.

Denise McCoy (Forsyth County)

Denise McCoy is a dedicated leader in education advocacy, transitioning from a groundbreaking role as the first female detective in the Statesville Police Department to a supervisor in Winston-Salem / Forsyth County School’s transportation department. She began her career in education in 1996 as a parent involvement coordinator for Winston-Salem / Forsyth County Schools.

McCoy was named the Education Support Professional of the Year by the North Carolina Association of Educators. With over 20 years of experience in public education, McCoy's commitment to youth empowerment and family engagement has left a lasting impact. McCoy continues to advocate for students at the local, state, and national levels. Denise McCoy currently serves on the Governor’s Teacher Advisory Committee and has served on the NEA Board of Directors.

Dr. Alice J. Garrett 

Dr. Alice J. Garrett is a retired educator with more than 45 years in public education as a Classroom Teacher, Assistant Principal, Middle School Principal, High School Principal, and Chief Consultant at the North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI). At NCDPI, Dr. Garrett was Chief Consultant and Section Chief overseeing teams serving low-performing schools throughout North Carolina. She has received a United States Congressional recognition and the NAACP President’s Award for her work in education.

Dr. Garrett currently serves as president of the Flood Group and as president of the Bobby F. Garrett Cancer Benefit, Inc. She also serves as Church School Superintendent for the Western District of the Western North Carolina Conference of the AME Church.

Dr. Garrett received a BA in Social Science from Allen University, a Master of Teaching from Fordham University, and a Doctor of Education Leadership from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Elyse Cannon McRae (Pitt County)

Elyse Cannon McRae is a passionate social studies teacher within Pitt County Schools, dedicated to supporting new educators in North Carolina. As the Beginning Teacher Organizer and Social Media Communications liaison for the Pitt County Association of Educators, she provides invaluable mentorship, instructional guidance, and professional development opportunities to teachers in their first five years. Elyse's impact extends beyond her local community; she conducts county-wide classroom management workshops and serves on the Governor's Teacher Advisory Committee, advocating for teacher retention and growth statewide. Through her leadership and advocacy, Elyse strives to cultivate a supportive environment where educators can thrive and make lasting contributions to the field of education.

Nodia Mena (Guilford County)

Nodia Mena has been a Lecturer of Spanish in the Department of Languages, Literatures, and Cultures at UNCG and is currently completing her doctorate in Educational Leadership and Cultural Foundations in the School of Education at UNCG. She has served as a cultural ambassador of Garifunas, African and Native American-descended people in the Caribbean, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Leadership and Cultural Foundations at UNC Greensboro. In addition to having taught Spanish, she has taught Honors Colloquia and a seminar on Garifunas. She is a co-founder of the Afro-Latin American/Latinx Studies Project in the African-American and African Diaspora Studies Program at UNC Greensboro and co-authored the article “Garifunas in the African Diaspora” for the Carolina Peacemaker. She has also worked with the Racial Equity team at UNC Greensboro and was recently featured with her son on NPR. Her 2019 TEDx talk on connecting with Garifuna culture may be seen here. In 2020, she received a Lloyd International Honors College Teaching and Mentoring Excellence Award.

Maurice Myers (Wake County)

Maurice Myers has been an educator for over 25 years, the past 10 of which have been at Rolesville High School in Wake County. He has taught and/or teaches subjects including AP United States History, African American History, World History, and The Vietnam War, and is excited to bring AP African American History to his students next year. Mr. Myers loves teaching and credits his students' excitement after learning about history as the best part of his job. He has received numerous recognitions throughout his career, including Teacher of the Year at PACE West K-12 School and Teacher of the Year at Northside Middle School in Virginia. He has twice been named Teacher of the Year at Rolesville High has received two "Rammy Awards" a Legacy Award, and was named WRAL's Teacher of the Week. Mr. Myers is also the advisor to 5 different clubs, including Key Club, History Club, and National Social Studies Honor Society.

Lisa Oglesby (Guildford County)

Lisa Oglesby has over 47 years of teaching experience. She has taught at Gastonia Central School, McDougle Elementary School, Glenwood Elementary School. She is currently an educational technology training consultant for OH, Yes U can Educational Technology Training in the Greensboro/Winston-Salem area. She earned an M Ed. In K-12 Technology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an M Ed. In K-6 Education from the University of Southern Mississippi, and a BA in Elementary Education from Livingstone College. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

Sean Parrish (Transylvania County)

Sean Parrish is a dedicated educator with over 30 years of experience. He has taught visual arts at Brevard High School since 1993. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Elizabeth City State University, Parrish initially aspired to teach in eastern North Carolina but found his calling in Transylvania County Schools. Parrish currently serves as an adjunct professor at Brevard College, where he teaches courses such as the art education course for future art teachers and the 2-D Design course for art majors. He is dedicated to empowering students and advocating for equity in education. Parrish currently serves on the Governor’s Teacher Advisory Committee.

Sabrina Peacock (Guildford County)

Ms. Peacock has over 27 years of experience as an educator. She has been a proud member of North Carolina Association of Educators since her first year of teaching and is active in the Guilford County Association of Educators. She received the 2020 NEA/NCAE Teaching in Excellence Award and has been a finalist for Guilford County Schools Teacher of the Year twice. Ms. Peacock served on the Governor’s Developing a Representative and Inclusive Vision for Education Task Force. She is a 3rd grade teacher at Oak Hill Elementary in Guilford County.

Alma Hedgebeth Phifer (Washington County)

Alma Hedgebeth Phifer, born in Plymouth, is a retired educator with over forty years of successful experience as a science educator. Her impact as an educator has been profound and far-reaching. Phifer started her teaching career in 1966 at the segregated Washington County Union School in Roper, North Carolina. A trailblazer during the time of desegregation of the Washington County school system, she became the first Black person to serve as Department Chair of the Science Department at the newly combined Plymouth High School. Pfifer served in this role until her retirement.

Beyond the classroom, Pfifer has been a mentor and advisor to many students. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Virginia Union University in Richmond, Virginia, a master's degree in biology from East Carolina University, a master’s degree in Gifted and Talented Education and Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a master’s degree in Gifted and Talented Advanced Sciences from North Carolina State University. She remains involved in her community through her work with her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta.

Inez Sophia Richardson (New Hanover County)

Inez Sophia Richardson is a 102-year-old retired teacher who spent her career in the Wilmington area, where she was born and raised. Ms. Richardson has served as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal at several schools in the Wilmington area. Most significantly, she graduated from and returned to teach at segregated Williston Junior High School. She was then the first assistant principal at M.C.S. Noble Junior High School.

Ms. Richardson has been recognized as a Local Legend by the City of Wilmington’s Commission on African American History for her role as an educator and commitment to public service. She is a life member of St. Luke AMEZ Church and is a Golden Soror and former Chapter Basileus of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Ms. Richardson earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Education from Winston-Salem Teacher’s College (now Winston-Salem State University) and a Master of Arts in Education from Columbia University (New York).

Queen Scarborough (Durham County)

Queen Marable Bass Scarborough’s long-term career was with the Durham Public School system. There, she held positions as a teacher, coordinator, and principal. She began her educational career at Hillside High School and rose through the ranks to become Principal of James E. Shepard Magnet School, where she assisted with the design of a Moot Courtroom (the only one in a middle school in the United States) and the Fayetteville Street Lab School. In later years, Scarborough was encouraged by her husband, John Clarence “Skeepie” Scarborough, III, to become involved in the funeral industry. She is a licensed funeral directress and Vice President of Scarborough and Hargett Funeral Home, Incorporated Memorial Chapel and Gardens.

Scarborough was born in Virginia and educated in Halifax County, NC. In her youth, she integrated the Halifax County School System under the watchful eye of her late father.

Wendell Tabb (Durham County)

Wendell Tabb is an American educator, theater director, producer, actor, and graduate of North Carolina Central University. He is most known for being the theater teacher and director at the award-winning Hillside High School in Durham, North Carolina, for over 30 years. He is the former Chair of the visual and performing arts program at Hillside. As a Drama Director, he has directed over 100 plays, including In the Heights, West Side Story, Fame, Dreamgirls, The Wiz, Bubblin Brown Sugar, Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, Mama I Want to Sing, Hairspray, Beauty and the Beast.

Mr. Tabb has also directed workshops on drama nationally and internationally, appeared as an actor on the NCCU stage, and worked as a theatre consultant and producer. Mr. Tabb received the NC Regional Theatre Conference Excellence in Directing Award for eight consecutive years and is a past recipient of the C.C. Lipscomb State Best Director Award. He has served as an Arts Administration Fellow for the

National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C., and regularly attends and participates in the Broadway Teacher’s Workshop in New York City.

Virginia Tally

Virginia Tally began her career as an elementary school teacher and served for a cumulative 30 years in Pamlico, Harnett and Wake counties before her retirement in 1995. Anyone who knows Mrs. Virginia Tally is highly aware that she has an intense and infinite passion for children. During her service in the school system, she was noted and highly regarded for her unique teaching style geared to reach every student, no matter their ethnicity, socioeconomic background or learning style. Likewise, even after retirement, she continues to serve children and youth of all ages on an ongoing basis.

Tally earned a degree in Education from Shaw University in 1965.

Marilyn Que Tucker (Rockingham County)

Marilyn Que Tucker is the North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s Commissioner. She was named North Central 4-A Conference Coach of the Year in volleyball in 1986 and 1987 and won the corresponding honor in that league in women’s basketball in 1987. She was also the Triad 3-A Conference Coach of the Year in women’s basketball twice. Tucker was an outstanding athlete at Stoneville High School in Rockingham County and went on to Mars Hill College from there. She played basketball and graduated in 1974 with a BS in Physical Education.

Tucker earned her master’s degree in physical education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1977. Her first teaching position was in the McDowell County system, where she taught and coached at West McDowell Junior High in Marion, NC. She finished her public-school career teaching at Reidsville Junior High while serving as the Varsity Volleyball and Basketball coach at Reidsville High School.

Ainsley VanBuskirk (Pitt County)

Ainsley VanBuskirk is a 1st grade dual language teacher at Pactolus Global School in Greenville. She is known for her innovative approach to dual-language instruction and for collaborating with international colleagues to support dual-language learners. Buskirk implemented Reading Horizons and MTSS at Pactolus Global and serves as a grade-level chair and facilitating teacher on the School Improvement Team. She also serves on the District Science Advisory team.

An advocate for life-long learning, cultural diversity, and mentorship, VanBuskirk was named a 2023 Milken Educator (also known as the “Oscars of Teaching”). She earned an Associate of Arts from Pitt Community College and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from East Carolina University.

Joyce Waddell (Mecklenburg County)

Joyce Waddell has served on more than 15 boards and community organizations, many serving children, in appointed and elected capacities. She has three decades of experience in education, including 21 years in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools as a teacher and administrator. Waddell is a graduate of South Carolina State University and holds a master's degree from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, North Carolina A&T State University, and Appalachian State University. She earned her doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Tamika Walker Kelly (Cumberland County)

Tamika Walker Kelly is the current President of the North Carolina Association of Educators, where she leads the largest organization for public school employees in North Carolina. Prior to this role, she worked as a K-5 Music Educator in Cumberland County Schools. In this position, she educated over 500 elementary students in the fundamentals of music and conducted and auditioned Honors Choir. Kelly also received recognition as the Westover District Teacher of the Year in 2015 and served in various leadership roles, including In-School Facilitator for the Positive Interventions and Support (PBIS) Initiative and Grade-Level Representative on the School Improvement Team (SIT). Kelly additionally serves on the Governor’s Teacher Advisory Committee.

Virginia Percelle Wall (Wake County)

Virginia Percelle Wall is a retired, professionally qualified educator with more than 37 years of teaching experience. She earned her degrees in English and French from North Carolina Central University (NCCU). She completed additional coursework in counseling. After graduating from NCCU, Virginia moved to New York, where she taught her first year at Nathaniel Macon Junior High School. She later returned to North Carolina, where she was hired as a teacher at Garner Senior High School. Virginia remained at Garner Senior High School for more than thirty years. After retiring, she was hired as a reading teacher at Leesville Road Middle School. For the past two years, she has served as a coordinator for an after-school care program at Juniper Level Missionary Baptist Church.

Corey White

Corey White has been a CTE teacher for Wake County Public Schools since August 1994. He brings in over 29 years of experience teaching. He teaches video production, robotics, and vocational classes at Ligon Magnet Middle School. White is a National Board and Academically Gifted Certified Teacher. He completed his undergraduate studies in mathematics at Shaw University and earned an M.Ed. in Technology Education from North Carolina State University.

Precious Oliver Williams (Cumberland County)

Precious Oliver Williams is a dedicated educator committed to engaging students in all aspects of learning. During her 30-year career, she taught Social Studies in the Cumberland and Wake County Public School Systems. Her tenacity and diligence in the classroom are parallel to her commitment to mentoring youth in their personal development. She continues to challenge young learners as a substitute teacher.

Precious Oliver Williams is a native of Wayne County. She attended Fayetteville State University and earned a Bachelor of Science in History and Political Science.