Seven King University Graduates Named as Teachers of the Year

Mar 25, 2022 | King University

BRISTOL, Tenn., March 25, 2022 — Seven graduates of King University’s School of Education have received 2022 Teacher of the Year honors in recognition of their hard work and dedication to their students and profession.  

Each teacher received the honor for their respective schools. Additionally, four of the seven educators also received Teacher of the Year honors at the district level. 

“To have seven former students selected as Teachers of the Year in one academic year is remarkable and makes each member of King’s School of Education overjoyed to have played a small part in that process,” said Randall Gilmore, Ed.S., Teacher Education Program coordinator at King.

The seven King alumni include: 

  • Morris Cephas ’14, a master’s program graduate and teacher at Glen Allen High School in Glen Allen, Virginia.
  • Amy Hewitt ’17, a master’s program graduate and teacher at Unaka High School in Elizabethton, Tennessee. She is also the 2022 Teacher of the Year for Carter County, Tennessee.
  • Lindsey Osborne ’18, who teaches at Greendale Elementary in Abingdon, Virginia, and is also the 2022 Teacher of the Year for Washington County, Virginia.
  • Mackenzie Simac ’18, who teaches at Central Heights Elementary in Blountville, Tennessee and is also the 2022 Teacher of the Year for Sullivan County, Tennessee. 
  • Lauren Smith ’16, who teaches at Rogersville Middle School in Rogersville, Tennessee, and is also the 2022 Teacher of the Year for Hawkins County, Tennessee.
  • Debbie Thomas ’11, a master’s program graduate and teacher at Mary Hughes Elementary in Piney Flats, Tennessee.
  • Savannah Williams ’18, who teaches at Ketron Elementary in Kingsport, Tennessee, and received the honor for the second year in a row.

According to Gilmore, the professional success of these graduates demonstrates how the University’s key values are put into practice in the classroom – both at King and in area schools. 

“We are blessed that we have such good students who come into our program to begin with, but their professional success indicates that the mission of King University, which is ‘to prepare students in our Christian academic community to excel as thoughtful, resourceful, and responsible citizens with a passion for serving God, the Church, and the world,’ is being realized,” Gilmore said. “Many faculty and staff members poured into these students and now as graduates, they are pouring into others.”

According to Donna Watson, Ph.D., Dean of the School of Education, teaching is an ideal profession for those who wish to make an impact on the lives of others. 

“Teaching is a sacred calling because what we do as teachers can impact a child’s quality of life over an entire lifetime,” Watson said. “Every word of encouragement or extra support that a teacher can offer to a student has eternal benefits. If you want to make a difference in this world, teaching gives you daily opportunities to carry out that mission.”

King’s School of Education takes a proactive approach to prepare future teachers for life in the classroom. According to Watson, that includes a support system of faculty and staff who begin working when students first arrive at the University. 

“At King, we want to meet each new student to get them started in the freshman year. We get to know our students so that we can celebrate their gifts and talents, and we support them in areas where they may need help,” Watson said. “They have so much to offer the profession, and we offer love and support beyond graduation.”


King University is a Presbyterian-affiliated, doctoral-level comprehensive university. Founded in 1867 as King College, the University offers more than 90 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in fields such as business, nursing, law, medical and health sciences, pharmacy, education, and humanities. Graduate programs are offered in business administration, education, and nursing. A number of research, off-campus learning opportunities, and travel destinations are also available. King University is a NCAA Division II and a Conference Carolinas member with 25 varsity sports. For more information about King University, visit King University does not discriminate against academically qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, sex, age, or disability. King University is certified by SCHEV to operate in Virginia. King’s primary location in Virginia is Southwest Virginia Community College, 724 Community College Rd, Cedar Bluff, VA 24609.



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