Homegrown bear helps to prepare the next generation of educators

Alyssa Stewart, right, sits with a student

Sitting with Alyssa Stewart ’98, M.A. ’22 in Joe’s Coffee shop on campus it is evident she is an integral part of the buzzing campus life here at Lenoir-Rhyne as students stop by to share stories of their latest student teaching class projects and staff members check in for a quick hello.

“I grew up in the house behind Isenhour (hall) – literally right behind it,” laughed Stewart. “Growing up in Hickory I always thought I needed to move away, but I was immersed in the campus from the beginning, so it was easy to call it home as an undergraduate student.”

After graduating with her degree in elementary education, Stewart spent 11 years as an elementary school teacher until she felt a calling to come back home. “That last year of teaching was a particularly hard one, and I found myself asking ‘What has to give? How can I make things better?’”

After a conversation with the then head of enrollment, Rachel Nichols, Stewart left the classroom in 2011 and rejoined the LR family as coordinator of enrollment services. Since then, she has also held the role of first-year advisor, assistant registrar and as of August, director of teaching education.

In this new role, Stewart coordinates with public school district personnel to arrange professional placements of undergraduate and graduate students in licensure programs. In addition, she supports the School of Education in accreditation efforts and will take on student advising.

“I never thought I would be back in the classroom setting, but I found myself missing the students – so when the opportunity came to be a part of the student experience I took it,” Stewart shared.

As she prepares the wrap up her first semester with students, she is excited for the future and growing in her new role. “The support I’ve gotten from the entire education faculty ­– especially Hank Weddington (dean of the College of Education and Human Services) and Alyssa Reinhardt – during this transition has been phenomenal. I am excited to take on a larger role with student advising in the spring and help this class of future students prepare for their careers as educators.”

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