Daniel Richardson, Amy Blessing Honored as WCE Distinguished Alumni

The UNCW Watson College of Education Alumni Chapter presented Distinguished Alumni Awards to Daniel Richardson and Amy Blessing at a reception on Oct. 3. The award recognizes alumni who have made significant contributions to education and represent the commitment to excellence typified by the Watson College.

Daniel Richardson ’03, ’10M, ’16 Ed.D.

2018 Distinguished Alumnus of the Year

Daniel Richardson was recognized for his dedication to students inside and outside the classroom, and his ability to innovate, inspire and bring to life unique learning opportunities for students over the course of a 16-year career as a public school teacher.

Richardson is currently Clean Energy Technology instructor at The Center of Applied Sciences and Technology (COAST) in Brunswick County, and an adjunct instructor of middle grades science at UNCW’s Watson College of Education. COAST helps to prepare high school students for 21st century careers through unique course offerings and partnerships with leading regional employers. Richardson piloted the clean energy program in 2017-18. Courses are now available to students attending all Brunswick County high schools.

Richardson holds three degrees from UNCW’s Watson College of Education: a bachelor’s in middle grades education, a master’s in curriculum, instruction and supervision and a doctorate in Educational Leadership. He began his science teaching career at Shallotte Middle School, and later taught AP and honors science courses at West Brunswick High School. He was Brunswick County Schools’ 2010 Teacher of the Year, and received a District Outstanding Science Teacher Award from the NC Science Teacher Association in 2015.

Since 2012, Richardson has served as Brunswick County Division A Science Olympiad Tournament co-director with his wife Amanda Richardson ’03, ’10M. In 2017, the couple received a Brunswick County Future 10 Award for this volunteer commitment to STEM education.

Dennis Kubasko, associate professor of secondary science education at the Watson College, said Richardson is very deserving of the alumni recognition.

“I have collaborated with Daniel in a variety of capacities over the years,” Kubasko said. “He is a strong advocate for STEM education, a mentor to students and a lifelong learner constantly pursuing STEM knowledge in order to create opportunities for students.”

Amy Blessing ’98, ’10M

2019 Distinguished Alumna of the Year

Amy Blessing, a 20-year veteran kindergarten teacher at Malpass Corner Elementary School in Pender County, was recognized as a leader with a passion for educating young learners and mentoring others in the teaching profession. She served as a NC Power of K (Kindergarten) teacher leader from 2007-2010, and has served as a North Carolina Kindergarten Demonstration Classroom Teacher since 2012. The Demonstration Program, administered by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Office of Early Learning, selects leaders to model, share and promote effective learning environments and instructional practices for young children.

Blessing’s position enables her to influence prospective and current kindergarten teachers across the state with the NC standards for early learning. In addition to teaching in her own kindergarten classroom, she holds workshops, hosts classroom visits, shares curriculum materials and consults with individual teachers to enhance learning for all young children in the region and state.

“Ms. Blessing’s work is grounded in research and personally reflective for her classroom, her students and best practices,” said Watson College Professor Kathy Fox. “Our early childhood faculty routinely use Ms. Blessing as a model for EYC students, and I send graduate students to her classroom in order to spend time with a teacher who uses authentic language teaching appropriate across all elementary grade levels.”

Blessing holds a B.S. in business administration from the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire. She received elementary certification from UNCW’s Watson College in 1998, National Board Certification as an early childhood generalist in 2005, and earned a master’s in language and literacy from the Watson College in 2010. She is a prolific grant writer and author of an action research article Assessment in Kindergarten: Meeting Children Where They Are, published by the National Association for the Education of Young Children in July.

The awards were presented at an Alumni and Retired Faculty Reception at the Watson College on October 3.

View photos from the event here.