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Student Spotlights


Catherine Hughes had been a special education teacher in Cumberland County for the past 15 years. She graduated from UNC-Pembroke, Magna Cum Laude, with a GPA of 3.7 in the field of learning disabilities with a concentration in music. She has worked with students with learning disabilities, behavioral/emotional disabilities, autism, and educable-disabled students while teaching in Cumberland County Schools. She is a member of the International Reading Association and the IRA Honor Society. Currently, she is a reading resource and co-op teacher at Pine Forest Middle School.

Before pursuing a degree in special education, Catherine was an Air Force veteran and studied musical theatre at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. A native of North Carolina, she loves to travel and walk the beaches at Emerald Isle with her husband, Charles. She enjoys playing the piano, singing in her church choir, and working out at the The Spa as well. While in the Air Force, Catherine was in a singer in "Tops in Blue", a worldwide singing group that performed for troops overseas. England and Turkey were two if her favorite countries to visit. After living in England for four years, she acquired a taste for hot tea. Having a cup of tea is a favorite hobby for her.

Catherine will graduate with a Master's Degree in Reading in December 2013. She wants to help students learn to read better and become avid readers as they grow into young adults. She has always loved working with children and hopes to continue helping children learn to love to read.

Leslie VanHooke

Leslie VanHooke received her Bachelor's of Art Degree from Livingstone College and obtained K-12 teaching certification in Reading. She was on the Dean's list and graduated with Honors. She pledged a Sorority at Livingstone College and is a proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She does love "pink and green colors". Leslie was first runner up as Ms. Livingstone College. She was nominated as an NCAE recipient by the Chairman, Dr. Lawrence Thompson of the Education Department to represent Livingstone with a photo in the NCAE Journal in Raleigh NC. She was a member of NCAE for numerous years, but switched over to Professional Educators of North Carolina (PENC), which is a teacher's organization. 

Leslie is also a member of the International Reading Association and recently traveled to San Antonio Texas in April 2013 to attend the IRA 58th Annual Convention, Celebrating Teachers Making A Difference. She enjoyed the River Walk while she was in San Antonio taking pictures, videoing and learning the history of the River Walk while touring on the boat. She had the honor of networking, getting autographs, meeting many authors, poets and celebrities, just to name a few, Fountas and Pinnell, Lucy Calkins, Bruce Lansky, Dr. Jerry Watts, Dr. Jerry Johns, David Harrison, Timothy Rasinski, Lavar Burton and the list continues.  Their inspiration and kind words have enriched her to grow professionally.  She is a veteran teacher with Harnett County School System of North Carolina. She is a Housse Highly Qualified Professional in Reading Education K-12.  She was appointed by my former principal, Judy Adams and served on the Housse Committee in Harnett County to help other Reading teachers achieve Highly Qualified Status. 

Leslie taught Academy of Reading in the Middle grades for several years and is presently teaching Title I Reading in the Elementary grades. She truly enjoys reading and traveling and have had many enriched experiences traveling to the Caribbean and outside of the United States to Istanbul Turkey, and other countries. She has been teaching for 25 years and was honored at a reception hosted by the Harnett County Board of Education and Superintendent, Tom Frye on May 6, 2013. She also received two letters from North Carolina General Assembly, House of Representatives, Representative David R. Lewis 53rd District and State Senator, Ronald Rabin, District 12 in Raleigh North Carolina recognizing her dedication for 25 years of service in the education system. She enjoys teaching her "Wonderful Darlings" or "Wonderful Ones", because she loves the expression on a person's face when they "get it".  To her, that makes all of the effort worthwhile.

Leslie will soon be inducted into the Alpha Upsilon Alpha Honor Society of the International Reading Association, and the Pi Lambda Theta Honor Society. She will graduate in December with M.ED in Reading. She has learned so much while attending the program here at Fayetteville State University. It has been rewarding to her and made her more knowledgeable and caring teacher leader.


Cornelia Davis-Baker comes from a large military family and was born in Mannheim, Germany. She attended the Department of Defense Schools in Germany, as well as, the University of Maryland's Munich Campus. For as long as she can remember, she wanted to become a teacher, but began her journey into higher education initially as a Business major at UMUC for two years because an Education Curriculum was not offered. Pursuing an AA in Business Management, she felt no connection to the field and had no desire to continue on this track, so she withdrew from the program. In 2008, after much soul searching and reflecting, she made the decision to finally pursue the career of her childhood dream. She began to pursue an Associate of Arts Degree at Fayetteville Technical Community College. Completing the requirements for an Associates of Arts Degree allowed her, in 2011 to transfer to Fayetteville State University through the Dual Enrollment Program. 

Immediately, from the very first meeting with Dr. Shari Herring in the Transfer and Advisement Center and her advisor, Mrs. Smith-Gray, she knew that she had finally chosen the right university and the right path. The transition from a community college was seamless and she took advantage of the many course offerings in online settings, face-to-face, as well as the Fort Bragg campus. Her advisor guided her through each semester so that her course load was a good fit for her.  FSU's rich history in the field of education and all of the knowledgeable and personable professors she has encountered as a non-traditional student, have all brought her in line with her purpose and have supported and assisted her in overcoming the obstacles that students face when juggling families, work and academics. 

Her coursework has been a very personal journey for her and she never felt that she was just a number at FSU. Her studies and observations of how children learn and develop have helped her to focus on how she can bring her love of literacy, and love for learning to young children. A major component of the curriculum requires that she serve the community as a volunteer for the Cumberland County School's Accelerated Reader Program. It is unbelievable, the impact that it has had on her and how it has supported student learning. Many believe that an effective teacher can be made, but she believes it is who we are initially, and her experience at FSU has allowed her to grow into the teacher she was destined to become. 

She is grateful for the knowledge and confidence that she has gained along this journey and believes that her journey and success has just begun. Upon completion of her program of study at Fayetteville State University, she desires to work in the Cumberland County School system as a teacher.  Now, where does she see herself five or 10 years from now? She will continue on the path of becoming an effective "facilitator of learning" while growing professionally so that she can make a difference in the lives of children. 



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