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Appalachian’s Rhododendron Society inducts three lifelong educators

RCOEAward_t.jpgBOONE—William D. “Bill” Killian of Hendersonville, Peggy Badgett Rickert of Statesville and Judy Gibson Mays of Greensboro have been inducted into the Reich College of Education’s Rhododendron Society at Appalachian State University.

Established in 1999 to recognize exemplary service to education and community, the award is the highest honor given by the school’s Reich College of Education.

Judy Gibson Mays, William D. The newest members of the Rhododendron Society in Appalachian State University’s Reich College of Education are Judy Gibson Mays, left, William D. “Bill” Killian and Peggy Badgett Rickert. (University photo by Marie Freeman)

Killian earned a secondary education degree in mathematics from Appalachian in 1943 and an M.A. degree in secondary school administration in 1960.

He served 39 years as a teacher and administrator at both the secondary and postsecondary levels, including teaching vocational agriculture in Alexander, Rowan and Lincoln counties and serving as Catawba Valley Community College’s director of technical and vocational programs.

Killian earned an Ed.D. in adult and community college education from N.C. State University in 1969 and that same year became the founding president of Blue Ridge Community College (BRCC) in Hendersonville. He served in that capacity for 18 years until retiring in 1987.

BRCC’s building that houses the college library and student activity center was named the William D. Killian Building in his honor. Killian was elected to the Henderson County Education Hall of Fame in 2002.

Rickert earned a bachelor of science degree in education from Appalachian in 1956. She served the Iredell-Statesville school system for 50 years, teaching grades three through nine in five different schools during her career.

She was named to Outstanding Teachers of America in 1973, received the Mulberry Street School’s Teacher of the Year award in 1985, and recognized in Who’s Who in America’s Teachers in 1985 and 1998. She was among the first group of teachers in the Iredell-Statesville Schools to receive a mentor’s license to assist new professionals and student teachers.

Her service to the profession extends beyond the classroom. She served as chairperson, teaching coordinator and evaluator for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and was a representative for North Carolina Association of Educators-National Education Association. Currently, Rickert serves with the Retired School Personnel.

Mays earned a bachelor’s degree from Appalachian in 1969 and a master’s degree in 1972. She began her career as a business and computer technology teacher at Mendenhall Middle School in Greensboro in 1969, where she continues to teach today.

Her honors have included the William Mendenhall Humanitarian Award and the Middle School Educator of the Year Award for outstanding teaching and service to students. She is a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, an international honorary society for women educators, and is a certified mentor of new teachers.

Mays has also served as a member of her school’s leadership team and as a department chair. She has been a representative for North Carolina Association of Educators- National Education Association and was the evaluation team chair for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Killian, Rickert and Mays were honored at an induction breakfast July 26 during the annual Black and Gold Reunion sponsored by the Alumni Association.