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WCE Celebrates Debbie Powell’s 45-Year Career in Teaching

Saturday, June 04, 2016

Debbie Powell retired from UNCW in April after an extraordinary career in education that spanned 45 years. Colleagues and friends from the Watson College and across campus joined Debbie’s family and former students at a reception in her honor hosted by EEMLS chair Kathy Fox on April 25.

“I have never known a person who was more generous with her time, gifts and kind words than Debbie Powell,” Fox said. “I expect Debbie will follow in the footsteps of renowned literacy expert Yetta Goodman, who said upon her retirement that she ‘wasn’t retiring but rather re-engaging.’”

Brad Walker said Powell was a highly committed educator who challenged students and colleagues to be the best teachers they can be. “It was a good day for UNCW when Debbie chose to come here,” Walker said. “You could always see a marked difference in students and graduates after they completed Debbie’s class.”

Heidi Higgins met Powell when she was an associate professor at Missouri State University and followed her to UNCW. “Debbie has been a wonderful mentor and great friend,” she said.

Personal notes, poems and well wishes from colleagues, students and former students were collected by Fox and displayed on cards affixed to balloons throughout the room during the celebration.

Powell was an elementary school classroom teacher, special reading teacher, media specialist and technology teacher in Indiana, Florida and Missouri before moving into higher education. She joined the UNCW faculty in 2007 as an associate professor in WCE’s Language and Literacy graduate program.

“My husband has been waiting eight years for me to retire,” Powell said, laughing as she shared a long list of projects and travel plans that lie immediately ahead. Tearing up, she added that she was grateful for the many valued colleagues, students and friends she met at UNCW. “I am thankful that all of you have been a part of my life,” she said.