Wise Words from Wolverines project offers insights from PCHS alums

Polk County High School graduates have gone on to achieve many notable things in life, as the Wolverines Around the World project created last year at Polk County Middle School showed.

But a number of PCHS alums have also returned to Polk County Schools to help guide the next generation of Wolverines, and those teachers and staff members are the focus of Polk County Middle’s current project, Wise Worlds from Wolverines.

Led by school counselor Langlee Rogers, the Wise Words from Wolverines project is highlighted by a bulletin board prominently displayed at Polk County Middle and featuring insights and thoughts from PCHS graduates now working in Polk County Schools.

The project is part of Polk County Middle’s College and Career Week, ongoing this week at the school.

Here is a look at some of those graduates and their wise words:

1. Rebekah Morse ​


Polk County Graduation Year: 2011
College Attended: North Greenville University
Major: Early Childhood Education
Current position: Teaching second grade at Sunny View Elementary
Favorite thing about PCHS or one lesson you learned while you were there: Tennis and HOSA club, one thing I learned, organization is your friend and the only way to survive all those honors classes.
If you could tell your middle school self one thing what would it be: Surround yourself with healthy friends and relationships, real friends are the ones that will always be there for you and not just a season.

2. Jenny Wolfe

Polk County Graduation Year: 1993 (1st Graduating Class at PCHS)
College Attended: UNC Asheville, Western Carolina
Major: BA History, MAT (Master of Art in Teaching)
Current position: Polk County High School Social Studies Teacher, Track Coach
Favorite thing about PCHS or one lesson you learned while you were there: It feels like home.
If you could tell your middle school self one thing what would it be: Be Involved…try hard in school, work harder in sports & extra curricular activities, be nice to everyone!

3. Lindsey (Ruth) Edwards / Ethan Edwards


Lindsey Edwards
Polk County Graduation Year: 2007
College Attended: Appalachian State University
Major: Family and Consumer Sciences
Current position: Foods Teacher at Polk County High School
Favorite thing about PCHS or one lesson you learned while you were there: The relationships that were built with friends and teachers are still ongoing because of our small community.
If you could tell your middle school self one thing what would it be: Don’t wish your life away, enjoy every minute, even the hard ones.

Ethan Edwards
Polk County Graduation Year: 2008
College Attended: UNC Asheville
Major: Health and Wellness Promotion
Current position: Polk County Middle School PE and Health Teacher
Favorite thing about PCHS or one lesson you learned while you were there: Life lessons through sports were invaluable.
If you could tell your middle school self one thing what would it be: Enjoy every minute of it.

4. Sam Vining

Polk County Graduation Year: 2012
College Attended: Gardner-Webb University
Major: History Education
Current position: Polk County High School Social Studies Teacher
Favorite thing about PCHS or one lesson you learned while you were there: Humility speaks louder than any word.
If you could tell your middle school self one thing what would it be: Focus on what you love, embrace hard work and learn to enjoy it.

5. April Crowder

Polk County Graduation Year: 2007
College Attended: Isothermal Community College
Major: Associates of Applied Science – Early Childhood Associates Degree
Current position: Polk Central Elementary Computer Lab Teacher
Favorite thing about PCHS or one lesson you learned while you were there: The close-knit feeling of a family!
If you could tell your middle school self one thing what would it be: Don’t ever doubt yourself; always stay true to yourself and you will succeed!

6. JJ Waddell


Polk County Graduation Year: 1993
College Attended: Appalachian State University
Major: Elementary Education
Current position: Polk Central Elementary third grade teacher
Favorite thing about PCHS or one lesson you learned while you were there: My favorite thing about PCHS was the many lessons I learned from playing three different sports. Playing sports helped me learn how to organize my time after school, showed me how to prioritize assignments, sportsmanship and how to be an effective leader in different parts of my life. I also experienced wonderful friendships through sports.
If you could tell your middle school self one thing what would it be: Don’t sweat the little stuff. Who cares what other people think. Be confident in who you are and always strive to do your best.

7. Rachael Haynes Wood

Polk County Graduation Year: 1999
College Attended: Brevard – Undergraduate and Western Carolina – Master’s
Major: Brevard – Psychology and Social Sciences and Western Carolina – Human Resources
Current position: Human Resources Director for Polk County Schools
Favorite thing about PCHS or one lesson you learned while you were there: We had several sub-groups of students at the high school that all had their own interests and differences but at the end of the day we were all Polk County Wolverines and that was something we could be proud of.
If you could tell your middle school self one thing what would it be: It takes all kinds of ​​ people to keep this big old world turning and growing. Being different is not something to fear, it is something to respect. Both in ourselves and in others. At the end of the day we are all humans and that is something to be proud of.

8. Stacey (Edwards) Stafford


Polk County Graduation Year: 1993
College Attended: The University of North Carolina and Western Carolina University (currently enrolled in Early Childhood Education Licensure Program)
Major: Journalism & Mass Communication – Public Relations Sequence, Early Childhood Education
Current position: Tryon Elementary School – Preschool Teacher Assistant
Favorite thing about PCHS or one lesson you learned while you were there: My senior year was the first year of students attending the newly-built Polk County High School and although it was full of changes, I know that I definitely benefited from a group of truly committed and caring educators while I was at PCHS.
If you could tell your middle school self one thing what would it be: Don’t stress so much and look forward to new adventures.

9. Meghan (Horne) Mauldin

Polk County Graduation Year: 2002
College Attended: The University of North Carolina  (undergrad), Western Carolina University (grad)
Major: 1st Major: History / 2nd Major: Peace, War & Defense (undergrad), School Counseling (grad)
Current position: Polk County High School – School Counselor
Favorite thing about PCHS or one lesson you learned while you were there: I loved being a part of a small school where everyone knows everyone else. Some people would say this was a bad thing, but it always made me feel safe and that I always had someone looking out for me.
If you could tell your middle school self one thing what would it be: Be nicer to your parents.

10. Kayla (Ormand) Edwards


Polk County Graduation Year: 2007
College Attended: Asheville-Buncombe Tech / Western Carolina
Major: Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Current position: Polk Central and Sunny View – School Nurse
Favorite thing about PCHS or one lesson you learned while you were there: Ag classes and Friday night football!
If you could tell your middle school self one thing what would it be: To work hard and give school all you’ve got. Play a sport. Be a part of a team. Make friends that help you to be the best version of yourself that you can be. Cherish every moment, because it will pass all too quickly. Then one day you make be working in the school that you grew up in! You can do anything you put your mind to! 🙂

11. Markece Cunningham


Polk County Graduation Year: 2012
College Attended: Mars Hill University
Major: Bachelors of Science, Minor in Coaching
Current position: Polk County Middle School Assistant Teacher
Favorite thing about PCHS or one lesson you learned while you were there: My favorite thing about PCHS was Work Release, Jamboree, 5th period weight lifting and US History Class. One lesson I learned is to put effort into your work, sport and classwork assignments whatever they are. I promise people will see you working hard, giving effort and I promise you will have all the support you need to reach your goals and to be successful.
If you could tell your middle school self-one thing what would it be: Pay attention in class, stop procrastinating and finish your homework before you turn that game system on. Whatever sport I play, practice on my own time when I’m not at school. Study my plays. Before I leave middle school, fix all of your BAD HABITS.

12. Ashley Blackwell


Polk County Graduation Year: 2006
College Attended: UNC Wilmington (undergrad), Western Carolina (grad)
Major: Undergrad – Psychology; Grad – Counseling
Current position: School Counselor at Polk Central Elementary
Favorite thing about PCHS or one lesson you learned while you were there: I learned to use this time to discover my own interests through different classes, extracurricular activities and hobbies.
If you could tell your middle school self one thing what would it be: Find a good balance between school and your social life. Don’t focus everything on just one because having both is what makes you a well rounded and happy person.

13. Monica Barber

​Polk County Graduation Year: 1995
Colleges Attended: Asheville-Buncombe Technical College, Appalachian State, Gardner-Webb
Majors: Dental Hygiene, Elementary Education, School Counseling
Current position: Sunny View Elementary – School Counselor
Favorite thing about PCHS or one lesson you learned while you were there: The Courtyard!
If you could tell your middle school self one thing what would it be: To work hard in school and not to wish your high school years away!

14. Rachel E. Hall


Polk County Graduation Year: 2004
College Attended: Mars Hill University; La Universidad de Guanajuato, México; Grand Canyon University; Southern Oregon University
Major: Spanish Education, English as a Second Language Minor, Religion Minor; Study Abroad Year; Master’s in TESOL; Master’s in Spanish Education
Current position: Polk County High School – English as a Second Language and Spanish Teacher
Favorite thing about PCHS or one lesson you learned while you were there: Polk County High School is the kind of place that you can always come HOME to. I personally came back to be a teacher where I was once a student. Also, it is common to see PCHS students return to visit after graduating. That sense of community makes this a special place!
If you could tell your middle school self one thing what would it be: You have a lot to look forward to in life, so don’t get discouraged with your shyness and social awkwardness. You will study abroad and see different parts of our vast world!

15. Jamie Smith Kilgore


Polk County Graduation Year: 1994
Colleges Attended: Appalachian State University, University of South Carolina-Spartanburg (undergrad). Appalachian State University (graduate)
Major: Bachelor of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Education, Masters of Library Science
Current position: Currently serving as Media Specialist at Tryon Elementary School
Favorite thing about PCHS or one lesson you learned while you were there: One thing I remember about high school was when Tryon High School and Polk Central High School were preparing to merge. I was able to vote on the mascot and school colors for Polk County High School. I think that’s pretty neat!
If you could tell your middle school self one thing what would it be: If I could tell my middle school self one thing, it would be to read a lot of books! (I’m not just saying that because I’m a librarian!)

16. Kellie Gosnell Bradley


Polk County Graduation Year: 1995
College Attended: UNC Asheville
Major: Psychology with an elementary teaching license
Current position: 5th grade math and science teacher at Sunny View
Favorite thing about PCHS or one lesson you learned while you were there: I was in the band and loved it!! We were a close-knit family and worked as a team. Being in band taught me discipline, perseverance, and cooperation.
If you could tell your middle school self one thing what would it be: Don’t worry about what others are thinking about you! They are too busy worrying about what others are thinking about them!

17. Jamie Hrobak


Polk County Graduation Year: 2012
College Attended: Brevard College
Major: Elementary Education
Current position: Polk County Middle School sixth grade math teacher
Lesson learned while at PCHS: All success is built upon your own beliefs about yourself. When you have doubts work harder.
If you could tell your middle school self one thing what would it be: Don’t be afraid to try new things. It is okay to go against the majority always follow your interests and dreams.

18. Langlee (Garrett) Rogers


Polk County Graduation Class: 2002
College Attended: Carson Newman University and Gardner Webb University
Major: Psychology and Sociology, Masters in School Counseling
Current position: School Counselor at Polk County Middle School
Favorite thing about PCHS or one lesson you learned while you were there: Your teachers are your greatest resource. You should talk to them and get to know them, they can teach you so many things. Also, take an art class with Mr. Thomas, his class was the best!
If you could tell your middle school self one thing what would it be: Stop worrying about what everyone thinks. You are amazing as the person you are, one day you will realize other’s opinions do not matter. Also, do your work in class…your teachers would appreciate that!

19. Jennifer Taylor


Polk County Graduation Class: 2000
College Attended: Appalachian State University
Major: Family and Consumer Science Education
Current position: Polk County Middle School – Family and Consumer Science
Favorite thing about PCHS or one lesson you learned while you were there: The opportunity to be a part of the Career and Technical Education program (Nursing) and the Career and Technical Student Organization (HOSA) that allowed me to learn more about myself and the possible careers that would best suit me before I went to college. Cam Lawrence was my teacher and she always pushed me to do more than I thought I was capable. I am grateful that she saw potential in me and encouraged me to pursue an education beyond high school.
If you could tell your middle school self one thing what would it be: I would encourage myself to take a part of the many opportunities that are available here at Polk County Schools. I know I missed out on some great events and programs due to my lack of involvement.