WPU Future Educators Honored at Annual Celebration

May 6, 2024

Located on the first floor of the Governor’s Mansion in downtown Raleigh, there is a special room off to the side.

Past the staircase, beyond the crystal clear chandeliers, and to the left is a room with a long, wooden table in the middle with more than a dozen chairs around it. That table is where North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper makes major decisions, including ones that will affect educators in the state. 

It’s fitting that not far away from that room, a group of William Peace University students, all future educators, were being honored Wednesday. 

For the sixth time, the governor’s mansion opened its doors to host WPU’s Teacher Education Celebration. The celebration honors students who earned their North Carolina Teaching License, a state requirement for those who wish to teach. 

“We are in the space where the governor, the superintendent of the state and other people meet to talk about the future of education,” said Education Department Chair Robin Vincent. “So it’s really special to be here.”

Sixteen WPU students earned their licenses this year, and eight participated in the ceremony. The ceremony included the school’s first Educational Studies student, a new major for students interested in a career in education, but not necessarily seeking a role as a teacher. 

Some of the students honored are already working in their field, including Halley Moore. Moore was named the Exemplary Educator, an award given to an education student each year by members of the WPU Education Department. She’s an instructional assistant in an extended content classroom at Hilburn Academy. Next year she’ll take over the lead position. 

Moore was there with her husband and children, calling the visit to the mansion a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

“I think it’s a big deal,” said Moore, an SPS student at WPU. “I’m excited and honored to be receiving an award tonight. “Leading up to this, with my current job, everything is so busy it wasn’t until I got off work that everything hit me.”

With their families in attendance and sweet treats, water, tea and lemonade in the back, the selected honorees and their guests sat in Chiavari chairs before going up one by one to receive their teaching certificates.

During Vincent’s opening remarks, she reminded the students of what they’ve accomplished so far. 

WPU senior Erin Miles said it was a lot of hard work. Miles had an upcoming softball game, but she wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to be honored in front of her family. 

“It’s a great experience,” Miles said. “You just feel like your hard work paid off, then having everyone around you to support you and knowing you can get recognized for something so big, it’s a great experience.”

Miles hopes to become a third-grade teacher in her home state of Virginia. It wasn’t lost on her how huge it was that the governor allowed WPU to honor students.

“You put in so much work in the classroom and you’re going to, of course, make an impact on students’ lives,” Miles said. “But knowing that the Governor is seeing that and being able to make time for you to come here and recognize that is awesome.”

Six years in, the look on the faces of the students and their families never gets old for Vincent.

“This really is the people’s house and for them to walk in and see that we care deeply for them and we want them to be celebrated and celebrated well,” Vincent said. “Their faces and their families’ faces just light up when they realize what an important ceremony this is, but also how important teaching is and being an educator.”

Teacher Education Celebration honorees 


  • Georgia Grace Anderson
  • Karen Chiavacci
  • Keturah Ferrara-Caban
  • Darwiniqua Hopkins
  • Mei Lu
  • Kathleen Knox
  • Jami Morse
  • Erin Miles
  • Halley Moore
  • Pooja Rana
  • Akiko Ruggiero
  • Deja Simms
  • Nasya Smith
  • Tiffany Webb
  • Jessica Young 

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