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Four WCS Educators Receive Tamara Stamey Memorial Fund Scholarships

 

WATAUGA — Four WCS educators were recently notified that they were the fortunate recipients of a grant through the Tamara Stamey Memorial Fund. Established in January 2023, this fund was created to honor the legacy of Stamey and assist local educators in pursuit of National Board Certification.

Stamey attained her National Board Certification in 2003 and encouraged and helped others undergo the process throughout her career. 

Watauga County Schools has one of the highest rates of Nationally Board Certified teachers in the nation. 

This year’s recipients are Terry Gunnell-Beck (Watauga Virtual Academy), Lisa Clinard (Blowing Rock School), Misty Hyler (Hardin Park School) and Brittany Maggard (Watauga High School).

On Nov. 20, WCS National Board Support Coordinator Madison Hollar along with Central Office administrators and school administrators surprised recipients and informed them of the good news. Present were Gunnell-Beck, Clinard and Maggard who were completely caught off guard and delighted. Director of Accountability Dr. Wayne Eberle emailed them on Nov. 17 to inform them about a meeting they needed to attend at the Central Office. Of course, this was not a legitimate meeting and the three recipients arrived expecting and preparing for one. Instead, each was presented with a vase containing a single pink rose and a white bow tied around the vase. This was in honor of Stamey, who loved the color pink. 

Hyler was unable to be present on Nov. 20, but was presented with roses and informed that she was a recipient at another time.

Each recipient shared some words about what receiving a scholarship to pursue their National Boards Certification through the Stamey Memorial Fund has meant to them. 

“To be selected, not only in general, but to be in the first group selected means so much to me and my family,” Gunnell-Beck said. “I was shocked beyond words when we showed up for the announcement. This scholarship will allow me to not only complete a certification that will help me financially, it will help me become a better teacher. Watching someone like Tamara help start a new school in the Virtual Academy, showed me that even after working in education for some time, we can always grow and learn new things. That is my goal. This certification is just a symbol that I want to continue to grow. I hope I can be half the educator she was.”

Gunnell-Beck shared that he was fortunate enough to work under Stamey in several roles and she was always kind and respectful. He said he never realized while working with her how much of a mentor she was.

"She had a way to not only expect, but to bring the best out of her staff,” Gunnell-Beck said.

He added that she always fueled him by her actions and her expectations to never do “just enough.”

“She was so inspiring when it came to continuing to learn and to never settle,” Gunnell-Beck said. “I remember having a conversation with her about going after the National Boards and how she felt I should get the certification.  I feel I owe it to her to complete the certification.”

It is his hope that Watauga Virtual Academy will continue, as it is something that really exemplifies who Tamara Stamey was as an educator. This is because WVA is built around meeting the needs of students and doing what is best for them. Gunnell-Beck and Stamey had many conversations about how unique it was to start a school from the ground up. He shared that Stamey was someone who as a mentor to him was not afraid to embrace change and make it positive for all of her students, the young and the older ones like him.

The opportunity of receiving this scholarship was one of the contributing factors when I decided to pursue National Boards this year,” Clinard said. “The fact that I was selected has felt like one of the biggest blessings and most generous gifts I could have received, not only for me, but for my family as well.”

Clinard shared that she has been considering pursuing her National Boards certification for a few years, but wanted to wait until she was better settled into her grade level before beginning the adventure. She is constantly seeking ways to better herself as an educator and has been inspired by several of her close friends and colleagues who have been through the process. She said that seeing how it has positively impacted not only them as teachers, but their students as well, has made her want this opportunity for herself and her current and future students. 

“When I was first presented with this news, I was in shock and totally surprised,” Clinard said. “After the initial shock, I felt this complete sense of pride, but also a feeling of ‘I can’t let Tamara down!’ I have since felt a renewed sense of passion and energy to give my absolute best to this process and get as much out of it as I possibly can.”

Clinard’s professional goal is to continue to better herself in the field of education. 

“This is a field that is always growing and changing, so we as teachers never stop learning,” Clinard said. “I will eventually pursue an advanced degree in literacy or related fields, since teaching reading and writing is my biggest passion. I would also like to mentor other National Board candidates to help them through this journey and process, but I need to get through it myself first.”

“Over the years, I worked with Tamara Stamey in many ways,” Hyler said. “I consider her one of the greatest mentors of my career. She constantly encouraged me and had a way of renewing my confidence time and again.  To have someone you hold in such high regard believe in you is an irreplaceable feeling that I will never forget.  Part of my reasoning for pursuing National Boards was that it was something I could do to make Ms. Stamey proud. One of the last conversations Tamara and I had was when I told her that I was going to finally take the plunge and pursue National Board Certification.  And, once again, Tamara gave me that final nudge of ‘you got this’ that I needed.”

Hyler said that being selected for a scholarship to pursue something Stamey believed in so passionately is an incredible honor. 

“I am forever grateful to Ms. Stamey for all the guidance, support, and friendship she showed me over the years,” Hyler said. “She never lost her heart as a teacher and will always be an inspiration.”

“One of the many reasons I chose to accept a position with WCS is because I knew it was a district that would push me to be the best educator I could be,” Maggard said.

“My decision was validated my first week when Tamara Stamey stopped by my classroom and asked me what my plans were for my growth as an educator,” she added. “She didn’t know it, but that simple question showed me that I made the right choice in moving districts, and it motivated me to always have a growth mindset professionally. She asked me that question eight years ago, and it was what echoed in my mind as I completed my Masters degree. What’s next for me professionally? Completing National Board Certification made the most sense.”

After becoming a NBCT, Maggard would like to transition into an Instructional Coach position so she can continue to support teachers and students in realizing and reaching their full potential the way Mrs. Stamey did. 

“Receiving the Tamara Stamey Scholarship is an absolute honor, and I could not think of a better way to honor her than to continue the work she was so passionate about,” Maggard said. 

Former WCS superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott spoke at the Dec. 11 Watauga County Schools Board of Education meeting and recognized the recipients. Elliott had a close personal and professional relationship with Stamey and served as the liaison between the Stamey family and the BOE to get the memorial fund established. 

“Tamara Stamey spent most of her career advocating for other teachers and spent a significant amount of time and energy in supporting teachers seeking National Board certification,” Elliott said. “I know her family - husband Mike and daughters Lauren and Kellyn - wanted to do something to continue this legacy, so it means a lot to me that we have been able to make this dream a reality. I know Tamara would be very pleased, and more than anything she would be so proud of these teachers.”

He also shared some information about his experience working with Stamey.

“Tamara was a teacher's teacher and always advocated for our teachers and their needs,” Elliott said. “I selected her for the role of Chief Academic Officer because I had complete faith in her to guide our instructional program, support our teachers, and ensure that our students received the highest quality education possible. She was passionate about National Board certification and spoke often about how it challenged her to be a better educator. She had boundless energy and a contagious enthusiasm for teaching and learning. Most of all, she remained laser focused on our students and the role public education plays in their development.”