Educators honored with inclusion on Cato Mural

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Cato Teaching Discovery Mural recognizes outstanding educators, and this year, six new names have been added to the list of those honored for their contributions to the profession.

Misty Hathcock, Carrilee Long, James Lyons, Ron Madsen, Bob Pharr and Melba Spooner are the 2017 honorees whose names now adorn the mural. Donors to the University have the opportunity to recognize the timeless and transformational power of teachers, administrators and school leaders by gifts of financial support. Charlottean Dennis Bunker provided donations to recognize Long, Madsen and Pharr.

Members of the Cato College’s Department of Educational Leadership also recognized Lyons with the dedication of a bench in his honor situated on the plaza near the mural.

Hathcock is a five-time graduate from UNC Charlotte, receiving all of her degrees in education. She joined the faculty of the Cato College of Education after serving 11 years as a teacher and administrator. The first full-time director of the University’s N.C. Teaching Fellows Program, Hathcock led that effort for 17 years.

Long taught elementary school in area systems for more than 25 years. She spent her life encouraging and caring for students, several of whom remained in contact with her during her entire life.

Lyons, a professor emeritus in the Department of Educational Leadership, placed an emphasis on quality teaching and preparing students for successful careers in educational administration. During his tenure, the Doctorate in Educational Leadership was established, and, upon his retirement in May 2014, 149 students had successfully graduated from that program, each having been taught by Lyons.

Madsen joined the UNC Charlotte faculty in 1977 and taught business and economics classes until his retirement in 2014. He was one of several young economists who came to UNC Charlotte in those early years to help establish the University’s now highly respected Economics Department. 

Pharr had a long and successful career teaching and coaching at Troutman High School and Salisbury High School. Many of his players went on earn college scholarships, including as contributors to some of UNC Charlotte's best teams.

Spooner served in various roles during her tenure with Cato College, including assistant dean; chair of the Department of Middle, Secondary and K-12 Education; and senior associate dean. Currently, she is dean of the Reich College of Education at Appalachian State University.

The Cato Teaching Discovery Mural is a work of art that honors the teaching profession and specific teachers who have had great impact; it also serves as a source of inspiration for future generations of educators who walk by the mural daily. The mural is a unique teaching tool, too, as its design elements are related to North Carolina facts and history.

John Cato, a 1973 graduate of UNC Charlotte, and the Cato Corporation, provided funding for the creation of the mural. Mara Smith, an internationally renowned artist, sculpted the mural, which was dedicated formally in April 2013.

Photo (left to right): Melba Spooner, Misty Hathcock, Jim Lyons, Bob Pharr and the son of Carrilee Long.