Hall of Fame honors 11 educators for service

The East Carolina University College of Education celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Educators Hall of Fame by inducting 11 new members in a ceremony on ECU’s campus on April 6.

The Hall of Fame recognizes the service of individuals who have extensively contributed to the field of education and had a decisive impact on the lives of others. Honorees are nominated through a $2,500 gift that is placed into a Hall of Fame scholarship endowment for merit-based education scholarships.

After the ceremony, honorees and their guests visited the Educators Hall of Fame in the Speight building to see their plaques on the wall.

After the ceremony, honorees and their guests visited the Educators Hall of Fame in the Speight building to see their plaques on the wall.

“The men and women who are inducted into the Educators Hall of Fame have planted seeds of inspiration, passion and encouragement for those around them — going above and beyond the curriculum, standards and walls of the classroom,” said Amber Brewer, chair of the College of Education’s Professional Advisory Board. “Each one exemplifies the quote from Plato that is inscribed on the Hall of Fame wall, ‘Those having torches will pass them on to others.’”

The ceremony’s keynote speaker was Tracy Cole, principal of the ECU Community School and a 2021 inductee into the Educators Hall of Fame.  Cole reflected on her time as an educator, including her time as a North Carolina Teaching Fellow and the influence of her parents.

“My parents, Mrs. Joyce B. Cole and the late Mr. Ralph V. Cole Sr., were both educators and graduated with master’s degrees and education specialist degrees from ECU,” she said. “From watching my parents and through my college experiences, I learned that a good education could open doors and take you to places beyond your wildest dreams.”

Cole was joined on stage by recent education alumnus and first year teacher, TreShawn Penny. He shared how his journey through his undergraduate studies prepared him to go from “just TreShawn” to “Mr. Penny.”

“The time I have spent at ECU and in the classroom has sculpted me from a kid who simply loved to learn into an individual who can figure out how to make his natural abilities work for his students,” he said. “To all the donors, your contributions are not limited to financial support. You are giving the recipients of these scholarships the opportunity to engage in their own transformations. Their journey to being addressed with a ‘Mr.’ or ‘Ms.’ in front of their last name is an opportunity that you have helped to set in motion as a result of your generosity.”

This year’s Educators Hall of Fame Scholarship recipient and elementary education major Aspen Hardin thanked donors and credited their support for her ability to pursue her dream of becoming an educator.

“I am flourishing at ECU and thriving with all these new and outstanding opportunities,” she said. “I have felt such a sense of community within this school and am beyond grateful.”

Since 1999, the Educators Hall of Fame has honored more than 600 educators and raised $700,000 toward an endowment goal of $1 million for scholarships.

2023-2024 Inductees

Patricia Jean Anderson

Prior to her career at ECU, Anderson gained K-12 teaching experience as a fourth-grade teacher in Mississippi before becoming a doctoral graduate assistant at the University of Georgia and an assistant professor at Iowa Wesleyan College. She dedicated her professional career to the ECU College of Education from 1982 to 2023, serving as an assistant professor, associate professor, professor, and now, professor emeritus. She estimates having taught over 8,000 students throughout her 41-year career. During her time at ECU, she served as a faculty mentor, advisor, department chair, interim chair, chief faculty marshal and chair of the ECU faculty. Anderson has more than 150 authored or co-authored publications and has presented at more than 200 scholarly conferences.

Perry “Pete” Barnes

An alumnus of ECU, Barnes was recruited to play baseball and became a distinguished college athlete. After graduating, he started his career in the public school system, where he served as a classroom teacher, coach and athletic director. He completed his Master of Arts at ECU and joined the faculty and staff at Lenoir Community College. During his tenure, he was a classroom teacher, athletic director, coach, director of the student union and director of education for prison studies. Barnes started a varsity baseball team from scratch and was the head coach for 18 successful seasons in the highly competitive National Junior College Association.

Wilton Ray Futrell

Futrell first entered East Carolina in 1944, but his education was interrupted by World War II. Following his honorable discharge from the Army, he returned to complete his undergraduate degree and went on to receive a Master of Arts from ECU as well. His career in education began as a classroom teacher and coach at Jonesboro High School and Ellerbe High School. After completing his graduate studies, Futrell spent two decades in school administration before serving as an instructor at Lenoir Community College and Anson Technical Institute. Futrell was sponsored posthumously for this award by his former classmate and dear friend, Dr. Jerry McGee. His daughter, Vera Wright, and son, Ted Futrell, accepted the plaque in honor of their father.

Anne Catherine Richards Lewis

Lewis received her Associate of Arts in secondary education from Pitt Community College and her Bachelor of Science in elementary education from East Carolina University. Following graduation, Lewis worked for Carteret County Schools, where she served as an elementary education classroom teacher. After her first year in Carteret County, she transferred to Onslow County Schools where she has taught as an elementary education teacher for the past 27 years. Lewis has also been a member of the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) for the last 28 years.

Allison Michael Poorman Mallison

Mallison received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from ECU. After receiving her undergraduate degree, she began her teaching career at John Cotton Tayloe Elementary School before moving to Belvoir Elementary and then Northwest Elementary. In 2006, Mallison transferred to Wintergreen School, where she has served for the last 18 years. She has received multiple recognitions for her service during her time at Wintergreen, including being recognized as the 2009-2010 Wintergreen Elementary Teacher of the Year, being an exceptional Children’s Advisory Council 2009 award winner and receiving her National Board Certification

Ashley Lynn Harris Matthews

Matthews is a two-time graduate of East Carolina University and began her teaching career at H.B. Sugg Elementary School, where she has served as a first-grade classroom teacher for 20 years. Matthews is actively involved in her community and school. She has participated in the Teacher Executive Institute, the Teacher Leadership Institute, and is a Facilitating Teacher. Matthews comes from several generations of ECU graduates who were educators including her grandmother, Evelyn Louise Brett Thomas, a 1944 East Carolina Teachers College (ECTC) graduate, her mother, Nancy Carol Thomas Harris, a 1967 East Carolina College (ECC) graduate and a 1980s ECU master’s graduate, and her father, Linwood Allen Harris, a 1963 ECC graduate.

Jacqueline Ann Nelson Ragland

Ragland began her educational career at Pitt Community College, where she received her licensed practical nursing associate degree and registered nurse associate degree. Later, Ragland received her Bachelor of Arts in community health from ECU. She started her career at Pitt County Hospital, working as a nurse’s aide, before moving on to work as a registered nurse with ECU family medicine. She was called to move towards an educator role in the health field, becoming a Pitt County Schools instructor, and later as a health sciences instructor at Martin Community College.

Bryan H. Setser

Setser earned his Bachelor of Science in secondary English education from ECU before completing graduate degrees at Winthrop University and UNC Charlotte. While completing his doctoral program, he served as both a middle and high school principal in Union County Public Schools. He has since held roles as chief quality officer, CEO of North Carolina Virtual, partner in 2Revolutions and chief design officer for MatchBook Learning. In 2020, he founded his own company, The Setser Group, which assists organizations with improvements for a sustainable and equitable future. Setser has received numerous distinctions for his work and serves on several advisory boards, including the business and education advisory boards at ECU.

Edward Junior Tyer

Tyer graduated from ECU with his bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in history education. After his graduation, Tyer accepted a position at Jamesville High School. Throughout his career, he taught at North Pitt High School, Farmville Middle School and Ayden Grifton High School. Additionally, he served as a university supervisor for the ECU College of Education and is currently serving in his educational role through Pitt County Schools ESS. Tyer has received numerous awards and recognitions throughout his career including being awarded the Teacher of the Year at Ayden Grifton High School, the Kiwanion of the Year for the Ayden Grifton Kiwanis Club and the Jaycee Outstanding Young Educator Award.

Martha Traynham Wohlnick

Wohlnick graduated from ECTC in 1930 with her bachelor’s degree in education. After graduation, she spent four years teaching science education at Newton Grove High School in North Carolina. Wohlnick was known for her leadership and work in the community. She served as the President of the Parent Teachers Association and worked closely with the Boy Scouts of America. A dedicated member of her church, she was the trustee for the United Methodist Church in Belleville, New Jersey, and served as a member of the church council. Wohlnick is sponsored posthumously for this award by her loving family. Her son, Charley Wohlnick, an ECU alumnus, accepted the plaque in honor of his mother.

Guili Zhang

Zhang began her formal education in China before completing her graduate degrees at Georgia Southern University and the University of Florida. Before her time at ECU, Zhang worked as an elementary and middle school teacher and served as an instructor, university supervisor and the lead statistical analyst and program evaluator at the University of Florida. She began her career with the ECU College of Education in 2006, earning the titles of assistant professor, associate professor, professor and department chair. Zhang continues to serve as a special education professor. She is an active member of numerous professional organizations and has received numerous awards and recognitions for her work in education.