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Judson MacDonald named Appalachian’s 2016-17 Outstanding Student Teacher of the Year

By Heather Brandon

BOONE, N.C.—Judson MacDonald has been named the Appalachian State University Outstanding Student Teacher of the Year for the 2016-17 school year. Reich College of Education (RCOE) Dean Melba Spooner, and College of Arts and Sciences Dean Neva Specht, recognized him at the fall Opening Student Teaching meeting in August.

View larger imagePhoto by Marie Freeman

MacDonald was also the recipient of the first 2016-17 College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Student Teacher of the Year award in May.

MacDonald, who is the son of Jay and Teresa MacDonald, is originally from Cary. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Spanish education in May 2017. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in romance languages as an accelerated admissions student.

As an undergraduate, he was also a James Patterson Scholar. Patterson Scholars are students who show potential to be leaders in education; they receive need-based scholarships funded by the Patterson Family Foundation.

“For Judson, the opportunity to be a positive force in students’ lives is always foremost in his mind, and his enthusiastic belief in the power of education to transform individuals and to transform society is one that we as educators should never lose,” said Dr. Catherine Fountain, associate professor in the Department of Language, Literatures and Cultures, who served as MacDonald’s undergraduate departmental advisor.

MacDonald shared that he believes student teaching brings together content and pedagogy and lays the foundations of a future teacher’s career.

“Student teaching is the culmination of any education student’s undergraduate career,” said MacDonald. He was able to put his beliefs to the test during his semester of student teaching. MacDonald completed his student teaching in two parts – 13 weeks at Avery High School in Newland and five weeks in San José, Costa Rica.

MacDonald student taught three sections of Spanish II at Avery High School under the guidance of Spanish teacher and Appalachian alumna Meredith Perez.

“Judson was detailed and thorough in his lesson planning and reflections. He created innovative and engaging lessons,” said Perez. “He has a take-charge personality with outstanding leadership abilities in the classroom.”

He completed his student teaching in Costa Rica through the RCOE International Student Teaching program. MacDonald worked with a veteran teacher to teach third grade English language arts and reading.

MacDonald credits mentors like Perez with inspiring him to pursue teaching as a career. He added that he has been fortunate to work with inspiring educators, who have taught him to incorporate love, empathy and justice into the classroom.

“Teaching hurts. But, students need fearless champions who won’t give up on them,” said MacDonald.

Students were nominated for Outstanding Student Teacher of the Year by faculty members and university supervisors. Nominated students were required to write a reflective narrative about their teaching experience and submit at least three letters of recommendation from faculty, university supervisors, cooperating teachers, and/or principals at the schools where they did their student teaching.

MacDonald will go on to represent Appalachian in the North Carolina Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (NC-ACTE) Student Teacher of the Year competition. The award recipient will be announced at the annual Fall NC-ACTE meeting, Sept. 20-22 in Raleigh.

About the Reich College of Education

Appalachian offers one of the largest undergraduate teacher preparation programs in North Carolina, graduating about 500 teachers a year. The Reich College of Education enrolls approximately 2,400 students in its bachelor’s, master’s, education specialist and doctoral degree programs. With so many teacher education graduates working in the state, there is at least one RCOE graduate teaching in every county in North Carolina. Learn more at

About the College of Arts and Sciences

The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, two stand-alone academic programs, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university’s strengths, traditions and unique location. Our values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of our students as global citizens. There are approximately 5,850 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian’s general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at

About Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.