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Scholarship Honors Longtime Teacher, Aids WHS Graduate

122105daisyadams.jpgBOONE – In the 1940s, Watauga County native Daisy Adams taught in two of the county’s small community schools: Appalachian Demonstration School and Howard’s Creek School, where she taught all grades. “I was the only teacher at Howard’s Creek. The school was heated by a pot-bellied stove and we carried water from the creek,” she recalled.

When five community schools consolidated into Green Valley School, she taught elementary children there until her retirement in 1975.

A new scholarship honoring this 1939 Appalachian State Teachers College alumna and longtime educator now makes a teaching career possible for Sugar Grove resident Hope Millsaps.

Millsaps, an Appalachian State University senior who begins her student teaching at Mabel School in January, is the first recipient of the Daisy Austin Adams Endowed Scholarship for Education.

Created this past fall, the scholarship will award $2,500 per semester to a graduate of Watauga High School who is currently enrolled full-time in elementary education within Appalachian’s Reich College of Education.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve wanted to be a teacher,” said Millsaps. “I love children, and I think teaching is the most important job you can have because you are setting someone up for life.”

Millsaps added that funding her education would not have been possible without scholarships. When she graduates in May, she will be the first in her family to complete a college degree.

“I remember crying my senior year of high school thinking that I could not pay for college. I’ve been blessed to have gotten this far with scholarships because of people like the Adamses,” she said.

The Daisy Austin Adams Endowed Scholarship for Education was created by Adams’s family members in honor of her more than 30 years of teaching. “For my family to do this for me, and for Hope, I am very humbled and very pleased,” she said.

The Adams family has longtime ties to Appalachian.

Daisy Adams’s three sons followed her footsteps and graduated from Appalachian. Austin graduated in 1965 and is an executive vice president of J.P. Morgan Chase in New York, NY. Tom, a 1970 graduate, is head professional at Boone Golf Club and coached Appalachian’s women’s golf team for many years. Sam, a former member of the PGA tour, is the current head professional at Red Tail Mountain in Mountain City, Tenn., and coached Appalachian’s men’s golf team for nearly 20 years. He graduated from Appalachian in 1968. All three were important members of Appalachian’s golf team when they were students.

Her husband, the late Alfred Adams, also a Watauga County native, was a longtime banker in Boone. He funded scholarships and supported the Walker College of Business for many years. The Alfred P. Adams Distinguished Professorship of Banking was established in his honor in 1992. He received an honorary alumnus award from Appalachian in 2001.

In addition, Alfred Adams’s father was one of the first Board of Trustees members at Appalachian working with co-founder B.B. Dougherty. Daisy Adams had two sisters graduate from Appalachian who also became teachers, as did their daughters.

The family’s connections to Appalachian continue as Daisy Adams’s grandson Tom Adams Jr. is enrolled as a finance major.

“I had my husband, three sons and my career – who could be more blessed?” Daisy Adams said, looking back at her life’s accomplishments.

She began her teaching career at a rural school in Gaston County, where children attended school only while the cotton fields were growing. School let out for the year at harvest time so the children could work.

She came back to Watauga County in the 1940s, where she stayed for the remainder of her career.

Adams offers this advice to Millsaps and other future teachers: “Have a desire for children and for teaching. And, have patience,” she said with a smile.

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Picture Caption: Retired Watauga County teacher Daisy Adams, left, with elementary education major Hope Millsaps. A 2002 Watauga High School graduate, Millsaps is the daughter of Dana and Pam Millsaps of Sugar Grove. (Appalachian photo by Linda Coutant)