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Tiffany Wooten Accepts 2020 Ruth Henderson Award
Tiffany Wooten Accepts 2020 Ruth Henderson Award
Posted on 09/24/2019
Congratulations to Ms. Tiffany Wooten of Clyde A. Erwin High School, this year’s recipient of the Ruth Henderson Award!

Photo: Clyde A. Erwin High English Teacher Ms. Tiffany Wooten stands with Ruth Henderson's niece, Ms. Linda Adams.

Tiffany Wooten speaks to BCS administrators, principals, and peers as she accepts the 2020 Ruth Henderson Award.Photos/Article By: Benjamin Rickert, BCS Communications

Congratulations to Ms. Tiffany Wooten of Clyde A. Erwin High School, this year’s recipient of the Ruth Henderson Award!

Each year, a community-minded, altruistic teacher is chosen from among all area Teachers of the Year to receive the award named for legendary Erwin High English and journalism teacher Ruth Muse Henderson (1930-1990). Wooten received the surprise announcement on Sept. 10 at the Teacher of the Year Awards banquet in downtown Asheville, before BCS administrators, principals, and peers.

“I’m beyond touched,” Wooten said as she accepted the award. “I love my kids- I think they know that I love them, and they know that I’m there for them whenever they need me.”

Radio host Ms. Tammy Jones of Mix 96.5 introduced Wooten and explained that the award is given “to someone who embodies the spirit of Ruth Henderson” and “gives of themselves unselfishly.”

Tiffany WootTiffany Wooten stands with BCS' District Teachers of the Year to be recognized for her outstanding achievement.en stands with BCS' District Teachers of the Year to receive gifts and applause.Ruth Henderson’s niece Ms. Linda Adams also spoke and provided a historical and personal perspective on Ms. Henderson’s legacy, which gave context to the character and influence recognized in Wooten.

“Most of all, Ruth was a proud, dedicated teacher who loved young people,” Adams said.

Last year, Wooten organized three fundraisers to meet community needs. A winter effort called Spread the Warmth involved collecting blankets, winter clothing, space heaters, and money to purchase firewood for area families in need. Wooten was able to bring assistance to 16 area families.

In an essay to the Teacher of the Year Committee, Wooten wrote that her Spread the Warmth fundraiser sums up her approach in the classroom- a classroom she affectionately calls “Happy Home.”

“Throughout my teaching career,” Wooten wrote, “I hope to ‘Spread the Warmth’ to as many students as possible. My hope for all of my kids is that they will transition into their adult lives and know they can accomplish anything they want in life, and there will be someone in Happy Home who loves them, believes in them and values them for who they are.”

Ms. Linda Adams, Niece of Ruth M. Henderson, speaks at the Sept. 10, 2019 Teacher of the Year Awards banquet.During the Teacher of the Year Awards banquet, Ms. Linda Adams spoke on the character and legacy of her "favorite aunt," Ms. Ruth M. Henderson. Here is the transcript of her message to teachers on September 10, 2019. The full Ruth Henderson Award presentation is available on YouTube.

As spoken by Ms. Linda Adams:
"Ruth Muse Henderson, loving wife, mother and teacher, was born in Asheville, North Carolina August 7, 1930. Her parents were born in 1890 and were of a generation which provided little formal education. This lack of education caused her mother to be even more determined that her children would be educated beyond high school. She instilled within Ruth the desire to learn – to excel – and the initiative to work hard – to succeed. Her work bore fruit when Ruth became valedictorian of her high school graduating class. From her father Ruth learned the love of planting a seed and the patience to wait for it to grow. She had the same love for watching her students grow.

Her first experiences at “being teacher” were the many afternoons she and her closest friend played school, taking turns as “teacher.” Her first real teaching experiences began in the Bible School classroom at her church at the age of thirteen.

In 1948, Ruth entered Western Carolina Teachers College (now Western Carolina University). She graduated Cum Laude from Western Carolina with a degree in English and Business and received her master’s degree from Peabody University. She was listed in Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities. She started her teaching career at Biltmore High School, but transferred to Erwin High School when it opened in 1956. While at Erwin, she established herself as a leader in the teaching profession.

Ruth was a State Beta Club Sponsor for 20 years, a head Senior Sponsor, and Chairperson of the Business Dept. She was a president of Alpha Phi Chapter, Delta Kappa Gamma, Mountain Area Teacher Center, Vice Chairperson and Parliamentarian, Buncombe County Unit NCAE, and NCAE President, Vice-President , Treasurer, Executive Committee, and Delegate to NEA National Convention.

She served on several committees including Clyde A. Erwin High School Advisory Council, Scholarship Committee, Academic Awards Banquet Committee, and the Book Selection Committee.

She attended many workshops and was also the coordinator of many of the workshops, e.g., she taught three sessions of Effective Teacher Training.

A photo of Ruth Henderson.Ruth gave many speeches, including being the Speaker for a Buncombe County Retirement Dinner. She presented numerous programs for meetings of Lions Clubs, Delta Kappa Gamma, Daughters of the American Revolution and other civic groups.

Most of all, Ruth was a proud, dedicated teacher who loved young people.

Ruth was instrumental in establishing the Clyde A. Erwin Academic Awards Banquet in 1986 through dedication and perseverance and with the support of her co-workers at Erwin. In the fall of 1990, the faculty and staff of Erwin High School honored Ruth by dedicating the banquet to her and naming it “The Ruth M. Henderson Academic Awards Banquet.” Ruth had many honors, but a tremendous honor that is still observed each year is the Ruth M. Henderson Academic Awards Banquet* at Erwin High School.

Ruth taught at Erwin High School until her death in 1990.

She was well-known and respected in the community, according to friend and former Erwin High principal Stephen Page. “She really was a legend in her own time,” Page said. “She was probably the most respected teacher in the school. As her illness became known and she couldn’t spend as much time at school, she was greatly missed.”

I still miss her. As a teenager I mainly remember her as always taking the time to listen and being truly interested in me. She always was so nice.

Oh, and I would like to add, she was the mother of four children.”

* As of this writing, the annual awards banquet founded by Ms. Henderson is referred to as the "Clyde A. Erwin Senior Awards Ceremony."

Buncombe County Schools is in the process of reviewing its website to ensure compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Buncombe County Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs or activities and is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 and federal regulations to not discriminate in such a manner. This requirement extends to admission and employment. Inquiries about the application of Title IX and its implementing federal regulations may be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator's contact information is: Shanon Martin,, 828-255-5918, 175 Bingham Road, Asheville, NC 28806.

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