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Distinguished educators honored

October 03, 2014 12:00 AM
Pikeville, Ky.
When the Pikeville Collegiate Institute established a training school for teachers in 1901, the institution’s founders had no way of knowing the fruits of their labor. Since that time, hundreds of University of Pikeville graduates have made the classroom their life’s work.

The Distinguished Educators Hall of Fame was established in 2010 to honor those whose contributions to education and to learning have inspired generations of students.

This year’s class, some of whom were inducted posthumously, include former educators and administrators Carol Baker, Susan Compton, Jackson Hall, Bill G. McCloud, T.W. Oliver, Paul Setser, Kathy Spears and Roger Wagner; Kentucky State Representative Leslie Combs; and University of Pikeville founders William C. Condit and James P. Hendrick.

Carol Hogsed Baker spent nearly 40 years teaching and mentoring future educators at the University of Pikeville. In the classroom, Baker led by example, teaching in the public school system before spending 38 years at UPIKE, including developing a major in learning and behavior disorders. She also served as associate academic dean and education division chair, a teacher certification officer and a Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP) teacher educator.

State Representative Leslie Combs was elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 2006. She currently chairs that chamber’s Budget Review Subcommittee on Transportation, which oversees the state’s multi-billion dollar highway plan. Prior to that, Combs was chair of the House Tourism Development and Energy Committee, which covers two industries critical to her home region of Eastern Kentucky. An advocate for education, Combs introduced and championed the KC4$ scholarship initiative which provides scholarships to juniors and seniors from coal-producing counties attending a four-year college or university.

Susan Elaine Compton’s contributions to public education in the Russell Independent Schools, Woodford County Schools and the Floyd County School System have been exemplary. Compton began her career as a music instructor at Eastern Kentucky University and continued teaching and leading music programs at several schools before becoming an administrator. She served as an elementary school principal and took on leadership roles, including school-based decision-making coordinator, district facilitator of effective schools, director of federal programs, director of instruction and assistant superintendent of curriculum and instructor. She became superintendent of Russell Independent Schools in 2005 and currently serves as superintendent of schools at the Atlantic Highlands School District in Atlantic Highlands, NJ. While at Russell, her district was selected as a district of distinction, one of the top three in Kentucky.

Presbyterian ministers William C. Condit and James P. Hendrick believed in the power of education and helped found the Pikeville Collegiate Institute in 1889. In 1880, Condit was sent by the Ebenezer Presbytery up the Big Sandy Valley to prospect for Presbyterianism. He rode through the valleys and hills on a horse borrowed from a stranger. Hendrick was making a similar journey for the Presbytery, looking for a site to build a church in the Eastern Kentucky mountains. Although the men did not at first travel together, they both returned to Ashland, Ky., convinced of the need for education in the mountains.

Jackson O. Hall’s tenure as president of Pikeville College from 1975-1985 focused on academic excellence, expanding the number of academic disciplines and establishing the Appalachian Graduate Consortium, which offered graduate-level courses on campus. From the beginning of his presidency, Hall focused on improving the financial stability of the institution. Along with past presidents William Owens and Hal Smith, Hall was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree during the university’s 125th celebration.

Bill G. McCloud was fortunate enough to turn his passion for music and teaching into a lifelong career. He taught in the public schools of Alabama and Kentucky. He served as a music supervisor in Birmingham, Ala., as a bandsman and organist while he was in the U.S. military, as a high school band director at Jenkins, Ky., and as a director of music at Pike County elementary and high schools. McCloud started teaching at the college level in 1959, with tenures at Pikeville College, Morehead State University and the University of Kentucky.

T.W. Oliver’s commitment to education changed Eastern Kentucky. A native of Sturgis, Ky., Tybee William (T.W.) Oliver earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of Chicago and his certificate of superintendency at Columbia University. After a distinguished career as a teacher, superintendent and an education professor at Morehead State Teacher’s College, Oliver came to Pikeville in 1922 as director of summer school programs for the Kentucky Department of Education. In 1923 he was hired as the superintendent of the Pikeville and Pike County School, the only public high school in the county.

As the longest serving principal of Johnson Central High School in Paintsville, Ky., Paul R. Setser contributed greatly to his students’ educational achievements. His compassion and support of disadvantaged children, high standards of behavior and demand for excellence in all school-related activities created a lasting impression among students, staff and parents. Setser’s two rules, be the best student and the best person you can be, were focused on instilling pride in the students, their families and the school.

Kathy Spears’ heart is the classroom and with her students. Although she retired from the Pike County School System at the end of the 2013-2014 school year she did not stay away for long. Spears returned to the classroom as an adjunct professor at UPIKE and teaches dual credit English courses to the students of East Ridge High School. Her work in the classroom has been previously recognized as she is the recipient of the Rediford Damron Award in Teaching Excellence for secondary education (1987), Walmart Teacher of the Year (2006), and received the University of Kentucky Teacher Who Made a Difference award (2009).

Roger Wagner is a 43-year veteran educator of the Pike County School System. Shortly after earning his bachelor’s degree in secondary math education from Pikeville College in 1970, he began teaching at Johns Creek High School. While teaching, he earned a master’s degree and several educational administrative certifications from Morehead State University. In 1982 he accepted the assistant principal’s position at Johns Creek High School and served for 11 years before assuming the role of principal where he led the school for 13 years before its consolidation with Pike County Central High School. His accomplishments in education led him to pursue the role of superintendent of Pike County Schools in 2006.


Pictured are members and representatives of the University of Pikeville Distinguished Educators Hall of Fame Class of 2014. The Distinguished Educators Hall of Fame was established in 2010 to honor those whose contributions to education and to learning have inspired generations of students.
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