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Rufus Edmisten Receives Education Partnership Award At Watauga School Board’s Monday Meeting

Rufus Edmisten (second from right) and Patricia Sperry display the Education Partnership Award presented to Edmisten. At left is Superintendent Dr. David Fonseca and at right is Mabel Principal Mark Hagaman. Photo courtesy of WCS

June 12, 2013. Former North Carolina Attorney General and Secretary of State Rufus Edmisten was presented with an Education Partnership Award by the Watauga County Board of Education at its meeting of June 10.

Edmisten said he was honored by the award and that he is proud of the students and teachers in the Watauga County Schools. 

“This school system is truly one of the stellar groups in the whole state,” he said in his brief remarks to the Board. 

Although he currently lives in Raleigh, Edmisten has strong local ties. He is a Watauga County native and a graduate of Watauga High School, and the current Watauga High School sits on the former site of the Edmisten family farm.

The Education Partnership Award is a select honor that the Board of Education presents only to persons and organizations that have made substantial contributions to the school system over a sustained period of time. Board members agreed that Edmisten’s support for Watauga County students clearly meets this standard.

This year alone, Edmisten has awarded two Watauga High School students “Extra Special Super Kids Scholarships” that will provide thousands of dollars in financial support through their college years, contributed $5,000 to help children participate in the afterschool program at Mabel Elementary, and donated a check for $500 to Watauga High School.   The donation to Mabel is the largest single contribution ever received by any afterschool program in the Watauga County Schools.  All of the donations were made through the Foundation for Good Business, a non-profit organization that Edmisten created to support students in pursuing their education.  

The Foundation for Good Business has been funding scholarships for 18 years, but this year marked the first time that two students at one school received the scholarships in the same year. Since its inception, the Foundation for Good Business has helped 38 students graduate from college, several of whom have also received assistance for graduate school. 

Edmisten has been making substantial contributions to Mabel’s afterschool program for five years and has often praised the work of Patricia Sperry, Mabel’s afterschool site director.  In presenting this year’s donation in April, Edmisten said that “the afterschool program is one of my favorite things in Watauga County and Mabel has the best afterschool program in the entire state of North Carolina.”

At Monday’s Board meeting, Board Member Brenda Reese, former principal at Mabel, also praised Sperry for her commitment to students and her ability to help students realize their potential.

In addition to his service as the state’s attorney general and secretary of state, Edmisten won the Democratic nomination for governor in 1984 and served as chief legal counsel to U.S. Senator Sam Ervin on the Senate Watergate Committee.  In the latter role, he personally served the subpoena for the Watergate tapes to President Richard Nixon, a key development in the investigation that eventually led to Nixon’s resignation in August of 1973. Edmisten currently lives in Raleigh where he is an attorney in the firm of Edmisten, Webb, and Moore.