Eight Greenville-area residents were among educators honored during an East Carolina University College of Education event for their service and dedication to the field of education.
Sherry Rae Buck, J. Christopher Buddo, Christa L. Farmer, Lynn Pritchett Harrington, Kathy Sue Gaskins Riggs, Lynne C. Wigent and Alana M. Zambone were inducted into the Educators Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Fletcher Recital Hall on Nov. 9. Mabel James Perry received the honor posthumously.
The Hall of Fame highlights the service of teachers, administrators and educational advocates in North Carolina and beyond.
“The men and women who are about to be inducted into the Educators Hall of Fame have gone above and beyond what is expected of educators and helped to raise the dignity of our profession,” said Bruce Beasley, chair of college’s Professional Advisory Board.
Buck earned her bachelor of science in special education and master of science in child development and family relations from ECU. In 1999, Buck established Pitt County’s first inclusive exceptional children’s pre-kindergarten classroom. She is a member of the Professional Educators of North Carolina and has had research published in the Early Childhood Education Journal.
Buddo earned his bachelor of music from James Madison University and his master of arts in music and doctor of musical arts from the University of Iowa. He has served as the director of the School of Music and currently serves as the dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication at ECU. As a bassist, he has performed with seven symphonies and appeared at two music festivals.
Farmer earned her bachelor of science in elementary education from Chowan College and her CMTE in Montessori elementary education from the Center for Montessori Education. She has served the students and families of Washington Montessori Public Charter School for 19 years.
Harrington earned her associate of arts degree from St. Mary’s College and her bachelor of science in landscape architecture from North Carolina State University. After working as a landscape designer for many years, she received her teaching license from ECU and began teaching middle school science at Washington Montessori Public Charter School.
Perry received her bachelor of science in child development and a minor in social work from ECU as well as a second degree in family and consumer sciences. She began her teaching career at North Pitt High School, her alma mater, where she also served as a class adviser, girls basketball coach and mentor.
Gaskins Riggs earned her bachelor of science in business education, master of arts in middle grades education and educational specialist degree from ECU. She dedicated her entire career to the students, faculty and staff of Pitt County Schools through various roles, including serving as assistant principal of Wintergreen Elementary School, Chicod Elementary School and G.R. Whitfield School. She was named Pitt County Assistant Principal of the Year in 2006.
Wigent earned her associate of arts from Louisburg College and bachelor of science in child development and family relations from ECU. She has served as an elementary teacher assistant, Head Start preschool teacher assistant and lead teacher.
Zambone received her bachelor of arts in special education and elementary education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She earned her master of science in psychology and her doctorate in special education from Vanderbilt University. She has worked at various colleges and universities throughout her career and now serves as the associate dean for research at ECU’s College of Education. Currently, she is a standing panel member and policy adviser to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs.
Recipients are honored with a personalized plaque permanently mounted on the Educators Hall of Fame wall in the Speight Building. To nominate an individual, a significant gift is donated to the Educators Hall of Fame Scholarship Endowment Fund. This year’s Hall of Fame scholarship recipient, Grace Harper, spoke at the ceremony about why she chose to pursue teaching as her career.
“Teachers help students not only learn academic skills that will be important later on in life, they also teach their students many personal skills that help them succeed on a different level,” said Harper. “Teachers can teach students how to think creatively and independently and how to trust and believe in themselves.”
This year’s keynote speaker was Charles Coble, the former dean of the ECU College of Education and past chair of the advisory board. He spoke about the importance of teachers and education as well as why funding scholarships is crucial.
“Higher education is costly and out of reach for many of our hard-working fellow citizens. That reality was one of my heartbreaks when I served as dean – so many students struggled to stay in college and pursue their dream of becoming a teacher,” Coble said.
Coble also thanked all of the donors for their contributions. “The inductees and the donors’ generosity will create a legacy that will support future teachers far out into the future,” he said.
Donors and nominees both spoke about the significance of the Educators Hall of Fame.
Vivian Covington, assistant dean for undergraduate affairs, nominated her colleague, Alana Zambone, associate dean for research, for the award.
“We need to make sure that we’re honoring the people who have given their time and talents to education. I see the work that she does every day,” Covington said.
Buddo, one of this year’s recipients, also spoke. “It’s just a humbling experience particularly when I look at the others on the list, I know a number of these people,” he said. “I think it’s a great list and I’m really proud to be in that company.”
A total of 18 people were inducted in 2019. Since 1999, the Educators Hall of Fame has recognized the accomplishments of more than 500 individuals and raised more than $632,000 toward the $1 million scholarship endowment goal.