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Padilla Chosen for Ruth Henderson Award
Padilla Chosen for Ruth Henderson Award
Posted on 12/15/2021
In a surprise Dec. 2 announcement, Karina Padilla of Candler Elementary was named the 2021-22 Ruth Henderson Award recipient.Features Photos: 1) (Above) Karina Padilla receives a standing ovation following her Dec. 2, 2021, speech to the Buncombe County Board of Education. 2) Padilla speaks from the podium before she is named the Ruth Henderson Award recipient. 3) Padilla stands with representatives from the BCS Teacher of the Year Committee, administrators, and the Board of Education. (Photos by Tim Reaves and Benjamin Rickert of the BCS Communications Dept.)

From the BCS Communications Department:

In a surprise Dec. 2 announcement by the Buncombe County Schools (BCS) Teacher of the Year selection committee, Karina Padilla of Candler Elementary was named the recipient of the 2021-22 Ruth Henderson Award.

Padilla speaks from the podium before she is named the Ruth Henderson Award recipient.The announcement came after Padilla delivered a moving speech to the Board of Education during the Good News portion of the monthly meeting. Padilla proudly represented her school and profession as she spoke about the courtroom events that first inspired her to become an educator. While studying Criminal Justice at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College years ago, she observed cases involving children and decided to pursue a career as a teacher to create opportunities for them. She also shared about her experience teaching kindergarten at Candler while serving as an active Sergeant First Class in the Army National Guard.

“I am honored to be part of a community and a county that has so many resources and so many programs to open doors for children, a community and a county that makes a conscious effort to ensure all children are cared for, not only at school but at home,” Padilla said from the podium.

She received a standing ovation after reminding educators of their role in helping students to “kick” down doors toward opportunity. Following her speech, Padilla was then approached by Jason Rhodes, 2022 BCS Teacher of the Year; DeLana Parker, 2021 BCS Teacher of the Year; and Brandon Green, the 2021 Progressive Education Program Teacher of the Year and 2021 Ruth Henderson Award winner. The trio represented the teacher-led Teacher of the Year program in Buncombe County.

“I started to walk back to my seat, but that was when they asked me to stay up there, and I thought, ‘wait, no, why?’” she recalled with a laugh. “I had absolutely no idea it was coming.”

Upon reaching the podium, Rhodes began to reveal the plan.

“The Ruth Henderson Award recognizes an altruistic teacher whose light shines for every student, who by definition gives of him or herself unselfishly,” he said.

Padilla stands with representatives from the BCS Teacher of the Year Committee, administrators, and the Board of Education.The presentation concluded with a classroom grant presented to Padilla by representatives from the BCS Foundation and The North Carolina Retired School Personnel, a division of the North Carolina Association of Educators.

Each year, a community-minded teacher is chosen from among all county Teachers of the Year to receive the award named for legendary Clyde A. Erwin High English and journalism teacher Ruth Muse Henderson (1930-1990). Henderson was well-loved and respected by her children, students, and colleagues. She was known for her many community roles and means of service, including leadership roles with the Buncombe County and North Carolina educators’ associations. Her legacy continues today through the lives she touched and through BCS’ annual Ruth Henderson Award.

Like Henderson, Padilla finds ways to serve and make her community better. In the classroom, she encourages young students to be their best, treat others with kindness, and accept their differences. In the National Guard, Padilla was deployed to Iraq in 2010, and eight years later assisted with evacuation, food provision, and heavy equipment operation during Hurricane Florence. She now has seven years of classroom teaching experience at Candler, and previously served as a Title I Assistant at Sand Hill-Venable Elementary. She is Candler Elementary’s current Teacher of the Year and studied Elementary Education at Mars Hill University following her years at A-B Tech.

Padilla said she was “absolutely honored” to receive the teaching award, but that a heart for students and the community comes with the territory. She quickly spoke of the many Buncombe educators who share these traits and have inspired her over the years. She also focused the conversation back on her students.

“I hope my students grow to serve and encourage others, continue to break down barriers of inequality, and go beyond what society expects of them,” she said.

Learn more about Ruth M. Henderson in this previous BCS Top Story from September, 2019.

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