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Former Teachers Inducted into Rhododendron Society

072903rhodo_dl.jpgBOONE–Four alumni were recently recognized for their accomplishments as teachers with induction into Appalachian State University’s Rhododendron Society.

They are Bryce and Izoria Gordon of Pfafftown, Helen Beatty Heafner of Taylorsville and L. Dent Miller of Statesville.

The Rhododendron Society honors Appalachian alumni whose service to education as teachers, librarians, administrators or human service professionals has been remarkable and exemplary. It is the highest honor bestowed by Appalachian’s Reich College of Education.

After graduating from Appalachian State Teachers College in 1949, the Gordons both began work as teachers in Forsyth County. Bryce taught at the high school level early in his career, but found he preferred teaching younger grades after he was asked to fill in for a sixth-grade teacher for a year. Much of his career was devoted to serving as a teacher and assistant principal at the elementary level. Izoria taught grades 3-7. She was widely recognized as an outstanding teacher and was known for her planning and teaching skills. Both are characterized by others as “well-liked, well-respected solid and unselfish people.”

The Gordons continue their service to education in their retirement: They are active leaders in the Retired School Personnel Organization in Forsyth County, have provided leadership in improving benefits for teachers and retired teachers, and have been active in local and state efforts to improve support for teachers and education.

A native of Iredell County, L. Dent Miller graduated from Appalachian State Teachers College in 1955 and worked in education in Cabarrus County, Statesville and Salisbury. As a teacher, coach and principal, Miller provided exemplary leadership during a period in education characterized by a significantly changing curriculum and complex social issues. He provided outstanding leadership in the integration of schools and communities. He is known as a humble man, dedicated to doing what is right on a wide variety of issues, and as a thoughtful, considerate person who always makes people want to strive to be their best.

In 1998 Miller began a successful career in the restaurant business. He remains active in his community and church. Miller currently serves on the Appalachian State University Foundation Board of Directors.

Helen Beatty Heafner graduated from Appalachian State Teachers College in 1943. After teaching for two years in Gaston County, she taught in Alexander County where she served as an elementary school classroom teacher for 42 years, the last 35 at Ellendale Elementary. Heafner was a classic teacher–gentle and quiet in style, but strong and committed to teaching and learning. Her lifelong love of music and people, combined with her kind and courteous manner, enabled her to help students experience success beyond their expectations and develop a genuine appreciation for learning. Throughout her career, she demonstrated that strong standards and high expectations, combined with creative teaching, can generate exceptional success for all students.

Heafner is an active participant in the Hickory Community Concert Association and has served as a church organist since the early 1970s. She is also a board member with the Hiddenite Center, a cultural arts program serving Alexander and three surrounding counties. She is also a charter member of the Reich College of Education Advancement Council.


Picture Caption: From left, inductees L. Dent Miller, Helen Betty Heafner, and Izoria and Bryce Gordon.