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WATSON COLLEGE OF EDUCATION

Watson College News

Spring 2022 Hattie Strong Scholarship Awards are Announced

Tuesday, May 03, 2022

The Watson College joined a select group of 24 institutions as a Hattie M. Strong Foundation partner in 2013. The partnership allows WCE to offer $5,000 scholarships to outstanding pre-service teachers in the internship semester. Scholarships are awarded to students with strong academic performance, who show promise to be outstanding student interns and classroom teachers.

Please join us in extending congratulations to spring 2022 Hattie M. Strong scholarship recipients – and May graduates – Jeffrey Bell, Tori Daughtridge, Ariel Hines, Elise Snell and Alissa Tarzia.


Jeffrey Bell ’22M

Jeff Bell was born and raised in Poughkeepsie, New York. He earned a bachelor's degree in Sports and Recreation Management from James Madison University in 2019, and graduated from UNCW with a Master of Arts in Teaching degree in Physical Education and Health in May. Jeff is an athlete and the son of two Physical Educators, who says his love of physical education and passion for working with youth led him to become a teacher.

“I have had many opportunities to work with children of all ages as a youth basketball coach, summer camp counselor and summer camp director,” he said. ​“All these positions have been rewarding and have allowed me to leave a positive impact on others.”

At James Madison, Jeff worked as a student manager for Men's Basketball program, serving as head manager during his senior year and as a video coordinator following graduation. After moving to Wilmington, he served as an assistant basketball coach for the JV and Varsity Boys Basketball teams at New Hanover High School. And, as a graduate assistant at UNCW, he taught a cardio/strength/stretch course, worked in a community nutrition education program and introduced the first basketball course offered on campus.

“At UNCW and Watson I have found so many fantastic professors, mentors, and classmates that truly care about my growth and assisting me to become a better and stronger educator,” he said. “I have learned how to develop a classroom management style and work in a virtual, face-to-face and hybrid class format.”

Jeff completed an internship at Ashley High School this spring. He said the Hattie Strong Scholarship helped him both personally and financially during his final semester.

“The first thing that the Hattie M. Strong award meant to me was recognition for my hard work in the classroom,” he said. “It also helped me financially during a time when my work hours outside of UNCW were drastically reduced. The scholarship allowed me to set my focus on my academics and performance in the internship and to successfully complete my MAT program.”

Jeff enjoys playing basketball, golf and pickleball. His future goals include becoming a successful educator and a high school basketball head coach. 


Tori Daughtridge ’22

Tori Daughtridge is from the Fuquay-Varina suburb of Raleigh, NC. She earned a BA in Elementary Education, with a concentration in Behavioral Studies in May.

“Unlike many of my peers I had no idea I wanted to be a teacher coming into college,” she said. “I came from a big family and knew I wanted to do something with kids but being a teacher was never something I saw for my future. When I got to UNCW I took EDN 200 just on a whim, and once I entered the classroom, I immediately knew that was where I was meant to be. Getting to work one-on-one with the students and seeing their eyes light up when they figured something out was magical and I cannot wait to continue to see my future students share those same experiences.”

Tori graduated from UNCW in just three years. During her final semester, she completed an internship at John J. Blair Elementary in a second-grade classroom, and said the scholarship came at a perfect time.

“The Hattie M. Strong Scholarship meant the world to me,” she said. “Because of the scholarship, I did not have to work full-time while completing my internship and was able to put 100 percent of my effort into the profession that I love so much.”

Tori recently accepted a position to teach second grade at Eastern Elementary School in Pitt County for the upcoming school year. She looks forward to beginning her teaching career, and said she’s thankful for the experiences she found at UNCW. 

“UNCW truly does have the most amazing professors and I am so fortunate for the professors that shared their passion for the field with me,” she said. “UNCW will always have a special place in my heart.” 


Elise Snell ’22

Elise Snell graduated in May with a degree in Education of Young Children and a minor in Online Teaching and Learning. Before selecting a major, she considered a variety of careers including social work, instructional technology, even restaurant management, but says her work at a developmental daycare center led her to pursue a degree in early childhood education.

“Four years ago, I applied to work at For Kids Only CDC in Shallotte, NC, and the rest is history,” she said. “I knew right away that I needed to switch my major to Education of Young Children.”

Elise credits her professors, courses and field experiences in Watson’s EYC program, as well as her peers and students, with helping her feel fully prepared to begin her career as an early childhood professional.

“Through this major I have learned about setting up the environment, carefully selecting your tools and taking time to lesson plan with goals and students in mind, and of course, positive redirection and psychology behind early childhood,” she said. “I know I have learned so much and I am not the same educator I was when I first started the program.”

Elise is a working mom with a nine-month-old son, Miles. This spring, she completed an internship at Island Montessori Children's School working with partnership teacher Samara Pierce in the Starfish classroom. Elise worried how she would find time to balance her internship, work and family, and said she was relieved to receive a Hattie Strong Scholarship during her final semester.

“The Hattie M. Strong scholarship meant the world to me,” she said. “My financial aid was not enough to cover my cost of living, but the scholarship meant I did not need to find a night job to get by this semester. Thanks to the scholarship, I was able to focus on my internship. Ms. Samara is a wonderful teacher and all the teachers, staff, students, and parents that taught me so much in so little time.”

Elise’s future goals include becoming an early childhood advocate and a licensing consultant for the state of North Carolina, and eventually, teaching at the community college level. She has enrolled in WCE’s master’s program in Leadership, Policy and Advocacy in Early Childhood, and will begin graduate courses in the fall. In the meantime, she said she is enjoying her work at For Kids Only, spending time with her family and gardening in her spare time.


Other Spring 2022 Hattie M. Strong scholarship recipients are Ariel Hines ’22, who recently earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a focus in behavioral studies; and Alissa Tarzia ’22M, who graduated in May with a Master of Arts in Teaching degree in Middle Grades Education.

The Hattie M. Strong Foundation 

Since 1928, the Hattie M. Strong Foundation has helped aspiring students achieve a college degree in their chosen field of study by providing interest-free loans with flexible repayment terms. In 2009, recognizing the alarming debt loads of recent graduates, the foundation’s board of directors moved to offer scholarships instead. Today, HMSF’s primary activity is the administration of a scholarship program aimed at college students enrolled in teacher training programs at partnering institutions. Partner colleges are selected based on demonstrated leadership in preparing outstanding classroom teachers. 

A specific goal of the foundation is to help reduce financial pressure during the student internship semester, when a student’s ability to offset expenses with outside employment is curtailed by the rigor of full-time work in the classroom.