Distinguished Educators inductees will be honored during Homecoming

Northwestern State University’s Gallaspy College of Education and Human development will honor several individuals with induction into the Hall of Distinguished Educators during Homecoming festivities.

This year’s honorees are Toni Bennett, Dr. John Dollar, Dr. Chris Maggio and Dr. Elwanda Murphy. Dr. Christy Hornsby is this year’s Outstanding Young Professional.

The College will host a reception beginning at noon, Saturday, Oct. 23 at the Teacher Education Center. The induction program will begin at 12:30 p.m.

Bennett has a 56-year career in education. At NSU, she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education in 1966, Master of Education in Special Education in 1970 and Specialist in Education in Leadership, Curriculum and Assessment in 1984 with additional study at Northeast Louisiana University and Louisiana State University. She began her career as a special education teacher at several schools in Natchitoches Parish before become pupil appraisal coordinator for Natchitoches Parish. She also served on faculty at NSU, Louisiana Tech and Northeast Louisiana, now the University of Louisiana at Monroe.

As the first certified assessment teacher/education diagnostician in Louisiana, Bennett worked for the Louisiana Department of Education to create and implement pupil appraisal, special education and school improvement programs. Throughout her career, she authored and administered grants, assisted in writing handbooks and reference guides for learning standards and was a consultant for curriculum development in Louisiana and several other states. She presented at numerous state and national conferences, served as director of the Department of Exceptional Student Services and was Louisiana’s State Assessment Teacher of the Year, Outstanding Special Education Teacher of the Year.

Although she is retired twice over, Bennett is still serving the educational world by volunteering her time and services to the Early Childhood realm as well as presenting at local conferences disseminating her knowledge of inclusion, diversity and more.

Dollar earned a master’s degree in secondary physical education at NSU in 1981 and retired earlier this year having served as professor and head of the Department of Health and Human Performance. He completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway where he was a four-year letterman in track. Prior to his appointment at NSU, Dollar was a visiting assistant professor, interim program coordinator, and internship coordinator for the sport management program at Texas A&M University, where he also received his doctorate in sports administration and management.

Dollar has authored numerous articles and presented at state, regional, national and international workshops and conferences on the topics of mentoring, experiential learning, internships and supervision, service learning, career development and curriculum development in sport management. He has also. served on numerous committees and councils including graduate council, faculty senate, standards, academic advising, scholarship, distance learning, and faculty guidelines.

Dollar has taught courses in sport law, ethics and sport governance, human resource management, recreational sport management, research in sport, and supervised more than 1,000 experiential learning experiences for his students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. He possesses lifetime teaching certificates in Texas and Louisiana.

Maggio retired earlier this year after serving with faculty, staff and administration at NSU for 33 years, the last four as the university’s 19th president. Maggio guided Northwestern State through some of the most challenging times in the university’s history, providing leadership through a global pandemic and several severe weather events. The four highest enrollments in NSU history were during Maggio’s tenure as president, and the university’s economic impact on the region climbed to an all-time high of $428 million.

Maggio earned a bachelor’s degree from NSU in 1985 and a master’s degree from the university in 1991. He received a doctorate degree from Grambling State University in 2002. He was elected Mr. NSU as an undergraduate.

A lifelong resident of Natchitoches, he taught and coached for two years at St. Mary’s Catholic School in Natchitoches before becoming an assistant track and field and cross country coach at Northwestern in 1988. Over the years, Maggio served NSU as Head Women’s Track and Field and Cross Country Coach, Assistant Athletic Director, Director of Admissions, Director of Enrollment Services, Director of Alumni and Development, Dean of Students and Assistant Provost, Assistant Vice President for External Affairs and Vice President for the Student Experience.

Murphy, who earned her doctorate in education at NSU in 1981 was the first female Superintendent of Schools in Natchitoches Parish. Her 50-year career in public education includes service as a classroom teacher, school curriculum coordinator, assistant principal and principal in addition to her 11 years as Superintendent of Schools. For more than a decade, she was an innovative and dynamic principal at the NSU Elementary Laboratory School, guiding the school in a time of significant growth and success.

As superintendent, she maintained a close rapport with teachers, principals, parents, students and others as she worked to enhance the quality and effectiveness of schools in the system. Under her leadership, the Natchitoches Magnet School was established in 2005.

Murphy, who also holds education degrees from Ouachita Baptist University and Henderson State University, continues to provide guidance and assistance to schools, young people and educational organizations in her role as a consultant for the Rapides Foundation and Orchard Foundation that support and promote educational initiatives in this area and beyond.

Hornsby is coordinator of the doctoral program in Adult Learning at NSU. During her career, she has made contributions to classes in Pre-K though higher education and to the profession of education through teaching, research and community service.

Hornsby earned her B.A., M.Ed., and Ed.S. degrees at NSU and is a full-time faculty member. Prior to coming to NSU, she taught in the K-12 system in Grant and Rapides Parish where she held numerous roles during 18 years of teaching and administrative work. She worked as lead teacher, chaired committees and served on leadership teams and school building level committees. She also served the Rapides Parish School Board as the Education Coordinator for the Head Start/Early Head Start Program and was awarded teacher of the year.

Since joining the faculty at NSU, she published several journal articles, presented at state and regional conferences advocating for early childhood students and programs and created a dissertation guidebook for doctoral students in her program. She has served on several committees as well as engaged in university service activities such as promoting the School of Education in Grad Fest and NSU Scholars College Walk. She and her educational sorority, ADK, teamed with the Early Childhood Education program department to collect and distribute school supplies and reading materials through NSU’s Early Childhood Cradle to College initiative.

For a full schedule of Homecoming activities, visit http://www.northwesternstatealumni.com.