Four educators will be inducted into local Educators Hall of Fame

Published 11:56 am Friday, April 7, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
The Carter County Imagination Library Board will have its Educators Hall of Fame Celebration April 13 at 6:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church.
Four honorees will be named to the Educators Hall of Fame – one deceased educator and one retired living educator from both the city and county.
Among the honorees this year are Rada Dale Rhea Osborne, deceased Carter County educator; Josh Wandell, deceased Elizabethton educator; Beth Cates, retired Carter County educator; and Edwin Alexander, retired Elizabethton educator.
Rada Osborne died March 18, 2007, at the age of 62. She began her teaching career in Washington County, Va., following her graduation from East Tennessee State University. However, she soon moved back to Carter County and began teaching at Happy Valley Elementary School, where her career spanned 30 years.
After her retirement she worked as a substitute teacher for the Carter County School System.
Her niece, Stephanie Ray, said Mrs. Osborne taught both the first and third grades, but ended her career as a reading specialist. “She taught scores of kids during her teaching career. She was an extraordinary person, who had an infectious laugh and loved the children she taught. She loved to share stories with them. My aunt always had a positive attitude and encouraged her students to be positive,” said Stephanie.
Mrs. Osborne grew up in the Big Springs community and attended Happy Valley schools. She was a member of Powder Branch Baptist Church, where she served as a Sunday School teacher.
Beth Cates will be honored as the retired teacher from the Carter County School System.
Cates is the widow of Mack Cates, also an educator, and her father-in-law was the late Clyde Cates, long-time Hampton resident and educator.
Cates is a former resident of Richmond, Va., and a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University. She taught two years in Virginia before she and her husband moved to Tennessee. Her teaching career at Hampton Elementary spanned 43 years. She taught some in the second grade, and about 15 years in the third grade. However, most of her teaching was at the fifth grade level, and she did a lot of after-school tutoring.
Cates said her passion was for science and reading. “I didn’t really consider teaching a job. It was fun and it was a wonderful experience working with the students and seeing them grow in their studies,” she shared.
Cates still does some volunteer work in the schools as well as some tutoring.
She only lives five blocks from the Hampton Elementary School.
Cates is the mother of three children – Matt, a teacher in Canton, Ga.; Mark, an engineer, who lives in Arrington, Tn., and Sarah, a doctor, who recently married and moved to Martin, Tn. She also has three granddaughters and one grandson.
And, not surprising, her favorite pastime activity is reading.
Dr. Josh Wandell will be honored as the deceased educator from the Elizabethton City Schools. He died at the age of 41 in February 2020, after a courageous battle with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
Dr. Wandell was a 1996 graduate of Elizabethton High School and attended both the University of Tennessee and East Tennessee State University. He then transferred to Tusculum College where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Education.
His first job was at Happy Valley Middle School, where he coached football, baseball, and softball.
Dr. Wandell continued his education at Lincoln Memorial University, receiving a Master’s degree and then a Doctorate in Education in 2012. That same year he was inducted into the Elizabethton High School Sports Hall of Fame. When he was in high school, sports was his passion and he excelled in football, basketball, baseball, and track.
Dr. Wandell left his teaching position at Happy Valley Middle School to become the principal of East Side Elementary, his childhood school.
In June 2013 he was diagnosed with ALS, however, he didn’t give up on life. He was nominated as the Principal of the Year for the state of Tennessee.
Children and education were Dr. Wandell’s passion and he continued as principal at East Side until his retirement in 2016. In 2017, East Side Elementary dedicated a facility, now named the Wandell Learning Center, to him.
Following his retirement, Dr. Wandell devoted himself to ALS awareness by speaking at area schools, churches, and community events. He also took part in a number of races through the help of dedicated volunteers and was known for his motto “Faith Over Fear.”
Dr. Wandell was also a member of the Tennessee Principal Association, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the Pro Dad Organization.
Dr. Wandell was the father of three children – Jayla Wandell and Taylor and J.T. Long.
Dr. Wandell was a member of First Christian Church in Johnson City.
Former Elizabethton High School Principal and former Elizabethton City Schools Supt. Edwin Alexander will also be inducted into the Elizabethton Educators Hall of Fame at the Thursday evening banquet.
Alexander, who is now retired, was an educator in the Elizabethton School System for 38 years, serving as an English instructor and assistant principal at Elizabethton High before becoming principal. He served as EHS principal for 13 years.
Alexander served as school superintendent eight years.
“I was fortunate to work with a lot of good people, and this not only included teachers, but custodians, cafeteria workers, maintenance people, and others. Most of the kids were good students and I am glad to say that many of them are my friends today,” the former EHS principal said.
“It was not always an easy job, but it was a rewarding job and one that I loved. I hope I made a difference in some of their lives,” Alexander said.
He feels his greatest accomplishment as school superintendent was the successful sales tax referendum passed during his tenure. “It made a difference money-wise for the system. And, it helped the county, too, “ Alexander said.
A native of Elizabethton’s “old town,” Alexander attended Duffield, T.A. Dugger Junior High, and Elizabethton High School.
He also served two years in the U.S. Army, of which one year was spent in the infantry in Vietnam.
“My career in education has been very rewarding, and I have a lot of good memories,” Alexander said.
His wife, Sonja, is also a retired Elizabethton educator.
Tickets for the Educators Hall of Fame Banquet are $20 and can be purchased at the Elizabethton-Carter County Public Library, Chamber of Commerce, or from any Imagination Library Board member.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox