Late teacher forged strong connections between regional teachers and WCU

Janice Holt ’76 MAEd ’77 EdS ’87 EdD ’12, a faculty member in the College of Education and Allied Professions, died unexpectedly Thursday, Nov. 1. She was 58.

Janice Holt ’76 MAEd ’77 EdS ’87 EdD ’12

Holt, of Webster, was a National Board Certified teacher who arrived at WCU in 2000 after more than two decades in Jackson County schools. She was instrumental in developing the university’s programs to support beginning and career teachers and maintain partnerships with regional schools. Since 2010 she was executive director of teacher recruitment, advising and career support at WCU.

“This was a tough administrative job and Janice was more than up to the task of leading those programs effectively,” said Michael Dougherty, professor emeritus of the College of Education and Allied Professions. Employees of a school system in the Atlanta area had recently contacted Holt to work with them in establishing a program to support beginning teachers, a testament to the quality of her work, Dougherty said.

Holt earned her doctorate in educational leadership from WCU in 2012, receiving the American Educational Research Association’s Research on Teacher Induction special interest group’s first Dissertation Award. Holt said her work supporting beginning teachers in Western North Carolina sparked her interest in the topic that developed into her dissertation, which examined using data to determine the effects of induction and alternative entry programs on new teacher retention and student achievement.

“I believed that findings could assist educators to develop evidence-based comprehensive programs that provide critical support to beginning teachers, improving their effectiveness and ultimately improving the learning of their students,” Holt said on receiving the award.

Holt was named the 1999 National Science Teachers Association/Space Foundation National Space Educator of the Year. At WCU she taught the freshman seminar for the WHEE Teach Living Learning Community and methods courses for the School of Teaching and Learning. She received grants totaling more than $1.5 million that focused on the support of beginning teachers and college access.

“Teachers, new or experienced, have lost a champion, someone who understood them, who loved them, and who worked to support them throughout her career,” said Dale Carpenter, interim dean of the WCU College of Education and Allied Professions. Holt’s WCU colleagues described her as a true leader, the consummate Catamount, passionate about her work, upbeat, enthusiastic, resourceful and a joy to work with.

Holt, a native of Cullowhee who attended elementary school in the McKee Building, was the daughter of the late Harrell Hooper. She is survived by her husband, Robert Holt ’73; mother Phoebe Revis Hooper; sons Adam Holt ’05 MSA ’10 and David Holt; sisters Dianne Hooper Chadwick ’72 MAEd ’74 and Cindy Hooper Beuger ’86; and six grandchildren.

WCU is establishing a scholarship in honor of Holt. Gifts may be directed to the WCU Foundation. For more information, go online to or call 828.227.7124.