Alumni News

Distinguished educator Elizabeth Fogartie (A.B.Ed. ’72) opens hearts and minds

Photo of Elizabeth Fogartie

Elizabeth Fogartie received the Distinguished Educator of the Year Award at the NMSA Annual Conference Nov. 5-7 in Indianapolis.

For Elizabeth Fogartie, principal of Webb Bridge Middle School in Alpharetta, Georgia, education is about striving for excellence in each of what she calls “the Four As: Academics, Arts, Athletics and Altruism.”

And as the recipient of the 2009 National Middle School Association’s Distinguished Educator of the Year Award, it’s clear that she is well on her way to achieving those goals for her students and for her school.

“As the principal, I set the tone for the school,” Fogartie explains. “Every principal does that ─ it’s our job. My style is collaborative, seeking input from students, teachers, parents and staff. It’s important to make sure that we have a shared vision of what our school can be, and that we are all working together to meet the needs of every single child.”

The daughter of a Presbyterian minister and a college English professor, Fogartie grew up in Charlotte and came to Carolina knowing that she wanted to be a teacher. “I was one of those children who lined up their dolls and stuffed animals to play school,” she says with a laugh. “My mother taught freshman English and my father did a lot of teaching in his role as a pastor. They were my role models, and I always knew I wanted to teach.”

Fogartie found her undergraduate experience at the School of Education to be enriching and inspiring. “It was a great education overall,” she recalls, “with wonderful faculty and mentors in and out of the classroom. I did my student teaching in an open classroom in a small school in Saxapahaw, and that taught me a lot.

“After graduation, I taught for 14 years, mostly in the seventh grade,” she says. “I remember many times in my first few years of teaching when I would have moments that made me think back on my college experience and say, ‘So that’s what they were trying to teach us back then.’”

As the recipient of the 2009 Distinguished Educator Award, Fogartie has been recognized for her “advocacy, leadership and vision” in the field of middle grades education. In his nomination letter, Dr. John Lounsbury of Georgia College & State University’s School of Education in Milledgeville, noted that Fogartie “demands excellence from herself and from those around her, and innovative practices are the norm [at her school].”

He described her as “an exceptional leader who has, through dynamic, visionary leadership, propelled her school to state and national prominence.” Under her leadership, Webb Bridge has twice been named a “Georgia Lighthouse School to Watch,” a statewide program under the umbrella of the National Forum to Accelerate Middle Grades Reform program, which promotes best practices in middle school education. To date, just 186 middle schools in the United States have received this recognition.

Fogartie “is the epitome of the lifelong learner,” Lounsbury wrote in his nomination. She “mentors other schools while reaching out to improve practices at her own.”

Elizabeth Fogartie strives every day to help students at Webb Bridge care for one another and “learn to think, reason, deduce and adapt,” and she encourages her staff to model those behaviors.

“All of us have much to share with our students,” she says. “We need to help them learn to develop and to keep an open heart and an open mind.”