By Kimberly Hardin, University Relations

The School of Education honored four outstanding alumni at its fourth-annual Distinguished Alumni Awards May 13:

• James Merrill ’91 EdD received the Outstanding Achievement Award. The superintendent of Alamance-Burlington School System since 2000, he was named Superintendent of the Year 2004-05 by the N.C. School Boards Association and the N.C. Association of School Administrators. A Morehead Scholar, Merrill received a bachelor’s degree in education from UNC Chapel Hill in 1973 and a master’s in educational administration from Appalachian State University in 1982.

• John “Jack” Schmidt ’80 EdD received the Distinguished Career Award. Schmidt teaches in the counseling and adult education department at East Carolina University and served as department chairman 1989-2002. The N.C. School Counselor Association awarded him the Ruth C. McSwain Distinguished Professional Service Award in 2002. In 2000, he received the Scholar-Teacher Award from ECU. He earned a bachelor’s in sociology in 1968 and a master’s in teaching social studies and guidance in 1970, both at St. Michael’s College.

• Alicia Tate ’04 MEd received the Early Career Award. The director of special education for Scotland County Schools, she earned her certification as an exceptional needs specialist from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She mentors new teachers and participates in the N.C. Council for Quality Teaching. The N.C. Department of Public Instruction named her a Teacher of Excellence in 2003. She earned a bachelor’s in special education from ECU in 1989.• Richard Thompson ’79 EdD received the Distinguished Career Award. Under his leadership as vice president for university-school programs, the University of North Carolina system has used K-16 partnerships to improve teacher quality, recruitment and retention. Thompson previously served at the state superintendent for Mississippi. The governor of North Carolina awarded him The Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 1998. He earned an associate’s degree from Chowan College in 1961, a bachelor’s from Elon College in 1964 and a master’s in education from UNC Charlotte in 1974.