Excellent Educator: Mary Hemphill, ’05

Meredith gives you the tools you need to become whatever it is you want to be.

Mary Hemphill, ’05, doesn’t just set goals – she achieves them. In middle school, Hemphill decided she wanted to become a teacher before working in school administration. Now, less than 10 years after graduating from Meredith College, Hemphill has earned a doctorate and become principal at Elizabeth Duncan Koontz Elementary in Salisbury, N.C.

“It was hard to leave the classroom [after five years] but I told myself I wanted to be able to do more good for more students, while also helping teachers,” Hemphill said. “I feel like I have the best of both worlds.”

Hemphill was a Teaching Fellow and served in student government, starting as freshman class president and culminating in a term as Student Government Association president. Her MeredithPhoto of Mary Hemphill, Class of 2005, and Principal at Elizabeth Duncan Koontz Elementary in Salisbury, N.C. experience made Hemphill well-prepared for her career as an educator.

“The faculty made teacher education very real, teaching what we would experience in the schools. They put so many tools in your toolbox … so you knew how to walk up to the problem. You knew how to approach it,” Hemphill said.

Hemphill said she enjoyed the “student first” focus at Meredith, and she’s worked to replicate that at her school. As principal, she prioritizes spending time where her students are – greeting them at the beginning of the day, having lunch with them, and working with teachers to improve the classroom.

Meredith College helped her discover new parts of herself, Hemphill said. She uses her strong leadership skills to do the same for the teachers at her school and to create a positive environment for students. She is a leader who understands the people with whom she works and the attributes they have.

“It is important to understand and respect people,” Hemphill said. “I tell my teachers all the time that each one of them is great at something, and if I can hone that expertise, then we are all going to become stronger.”

Though Hemphill has achieved a lot already, she’s still committed to those goals she set in middle school – including someday becoming superintendent of schools or possibly secretary of education. Thanks to her Meredith education, she’s confident that she can achieve them.

“Meredith gives you the tools you need to become whatever it is you want to be,” Hemphill said.

Melyssa Allen

News Director
316 Johnson Hall
(919) 760-8087
Fax: (919) 760-8330