spotlight-category: Social Sciences

Sam Vining ’16

Sam Vining
Gardner-Webb University's Life Of The Scholar (LOTS) participants present their thesis projects; Spring 2016. Sam Vining, History

Gardner-Webb alumnus seeks to help his students appreciate historical events

“The classes I took at Gardner-Webb were incredibly challenging and prepared me for the workforce. I graduated college with everything I needed to have a career in education.”

In Sam Vining’s history class, students learn more than important dates. The 2016 alumnus of Gardner-Webb University wants them to understand how the past relates to what’s happening around them today. “I hope to give my students an appreciation for other people, regardless of their background,” he shared. “I hope that students can begin to learn how complicated history is, and thus find appreciation for other people and their own historical backgrounds.”

Vining teaches ninth grade at Polk County High School in Columbus, N.C. He was recently named the James Madison Fellowship winner for the state of North Carolina. The award is presented to a high school American History teacher and includes attending a summer institute in Washington, D.C., and receiving a $24,000 scholarship to pursue a master’s degree.

“The Fellowship is an incredible way for me to grow as a professional and to help improve my knowledge of content associated with American history,” Vining explained. “To be selected is a tremendous honor, and all credit is due to my professors, Dr. David Yelton, Dr. Joseph Moore, Ms. Donna Schronce, and Dr. Timothy Vanderburg, my mentors, and my friends who helped to shape who I am today. When applying for the Fellowship, the classes I had at GWU helped me to formulate good answers to difficult essay prompts.”

Vining, a native of Tryon, N.C., chose Gardner-Webb because of its Christian principles. He also liked the sense of community he felt on campus. During his four years, he met people who helped him become a better person and developed his skills as an educator. “I always felt supported, challenged, and full of joy while around my Gardner-Webb family,” Vining affirmed. “The classes I took at Gardner-Webb were incredibly challenging and prepared me for the workforce. I graduated college with everything I needed to have a career in education.”

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