School board renames teacher of the year award

By Nathan Ham - [email protected]

JEFFERSON — The Ashe County Board of Education unanimously approved the renaming of the annual Ashe County Teacher of the Year award in honor of former educator Oddie Cox, one of the earliest African American educators in the county.

“I think it would be something to honor one of our great African American educators. My recommendation would be to make the change,” said Todd Holden, Ashe County Superintendent.

“I never heard anybody that did not speak highly of him (Cox). He was quite an amazing person for his time,” said board member Dr. Lee Beckworth.

According to Dr. Beckworth, Cox came to Ashe County around 1910 and taught for roughly 20 years and then went to North Carolina A&T every summer to take classes to learn more things that he could pass on to his kids. Overall, Cox taught in Ashe for over 40 years.

“He was a special individual and I can’t think of anybody better that’s been in our school system that we could model our teacher of the year after,” said Beckworth.

Other board members also shared their memories of the popular educator.

“I was at Beaver Creek for a basketball game, it was cold and blowing snow. I left the ballgame and come up on Mr. Cox over here at the edge of town walking. I asked him what he was doing out walking that time of night. He said he had to get home,” said board chairman Charles King. “I drove him home that night, he tried every way to fill up my tank with gas, take me in to keep me overnight. He was just a super person.”

According to Dr. Beckworth, Cox also went to the school board and lobbied the board to consolidate seven black schools into one, and the board did.

“The reason he (Cox) did that was because he thought they would have a better opportunity in a better school with all the teachers at one place. He was responsible for bringing all of those kids together,” said Dr. Beckworth.

Board member Terry Williams was also pleased with the decision to recognize Cox for all he did as a person and an educator.

“In this situation where we’re honoring someone who gave up his life for young people so that they would have a better life, I think that it is very appropriate,” said Williams.

BOE announcements

March 11: Battle of the Books, grades 6-8 at 9 a.m., Ashe County High School auditorium.

March 18: Third annual Leadership Day at Blue Ridge Elementary School, 8:30-11 a.m.

March 24: Elementary Battle of the Books, grade 4-5 at 9 a.m., Ashe County High School auditorium.

March 21-24: Pre K DIAL screenings

March 25: Ashe County schools observe Good Friday

March 28-30: Blue Ridge kindergarten DIAL screenings

April 4-8: Ashe County schools observe spring break

April 11-13: Mountain View kindergarten DIAL screenings

April 18-20: Westwood kindergarten DIAL screenings

Nathan Ham can be reached at 336-489-3062 or followed on Twitter @NathanHam87

By Nathan Ham

[email protected]

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