North Carolina history and culture present a chorus of diverse and distinctive people and events. One could argue that Asheville, NC, is one of the loveliest places in the state to do a deep dive into a study of the Tar Heel State.
That’s exactly what thirty 4th-12th grade public school teachers did this July 24-26 as they participated in the 2019 William Friday Teachers Retreat, “Carolina Voices” held in honor of Marie Colton. As an NC legislator, 1978-1994, she represented the Asheville area and became the first woman elected to serve as speaker pro tempore in this state. One of her daughters, Dr. Elizabeth Colton, represented her late mother at this retreat in the “Land of the Sky.”
Teachers enjoyed hearing some of North Carolina’s most captivating stories from history as the North Caroliniana Society celebrated these men and women for the incredibly important and valuable work they do across the state.
“It was truly inspiring to participate in the 2019 Carolina Voices Retreat,” commented LeAnn Farrell, a middle school teacher from Forsyth County. This weekend was full of instructive activities “led by highly educated individuals who are dedicated to sharing their experiences and knowledge. It was a weekend rich in diversity, not only in content but in the individuals hired to lead out sessions. I cannot think of a better way to refresh and up life our state’s educators while providing them a wealth of classroom resources and personal adventures, intellectual as well as imaginative. I felt valued as a professional educator, flattered to be chosen to participate in this program that directly relates to the content I teach.”
These teachers also enjoyed a private trolley tour of Asheville, a tour of the Thomas Wolfe State Historic Site, a performance by the Friends of the Cherokee, and a special session with Holocaust survivor Dr. Walter Ziffer. High school teacher Tanya Ledford from Henderson County described her experience this way:
“Unlike with many other workshops, all of the sessions were not just interesting, but useful. Dr. Walter Ziffer is a treasure whose memories are both horrific and important. To get the opportunity to meet him and hear his account was an amazing honor. Those who survived the Holocaust, especially those old enough to truly remember it, are getting older, and we are losing their stories and memories at they pass away. I am an extremely humbled to have had the opportunity to hear Dr. Ziffer and receive an autographed copy of his memoir.”
With the North Caroliniana Society’s goal being to educate as well as celebrate our state’s hard working educators, participants were also treated to a Teacher Appreciation Dinner at Strada Italiano. There teachers got to interact socially with Dr. Colton as well as Society president Dr. Jim Clark and president emeritus Willis P. Whichard.
Larry Efird from Cabarrus County wrote: “My heart was touched, and my teaching soul is now full as a result of this past week. Thank you for ALL you did to encourage us. I needed it.”