news-category: Alumni GWU Alumnus is Region 8 Principal of the Year By Office of University Communications On January 23, 2024 Phil Rogers, center, poses with school personnel and the school mascot after receiving the Region 8 Principal of the Year award. The 2023 N.C. Principal of the Year, Donna Bledsoe (second from left) helped with the surprise presentation. Phil Rogers, ’96, Grateful for Influences of His Father, Gardner-Webb Coach and Professors BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—A lifelong resident of Rutherford County, N.C., Phil Rogers graduated from Gardner-Webb University in May 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in social studies education. That same year, he was hired to teach and coach baseball at R-S Central, where he had been a student teacher. Nearly three decades and two graduate degrees later, Rogers is still at R-S, where he has been principal for 15 years. When his colleagues selected him as Rutherford County Principal of the year, he was honored and humbled by the recognition. Recently, in a surprise ceremony at his school, he was awarded Wells Fargo Region 8 Principal of the Year for 2024. This annual awards program recognizes exceptional leadership, dedication, and innovation in the field of education. “I never dreamed of winning the regional principal of the year,” Rogers shared. “I hope I can represent my colleagues well. There are so many great people working in public education today. It is a tremendous honor to be able to represent them in our region.” He advances to the statewide competition for the title of 2024 Wells Fargo North Carolina Principal of the Year. The ceremony to announce the winner is held in May. Rogers received his master’s in social studies education and Educational Specialist Degree in Administration and Supervision from Converse College in Spartanburg, S.C. He became assistant principal at R-S Central in the spring of 2007 and was named interim principal in 2008. He entered the field of education because of his father, who was a high school teacher and principal, then became a professor of history at Isothermal Community College in Spindale, N.C. “He was a huge influence on my decision to help young people reach their goals and better themselves through education and athletics,” Rogers explained. “As a youth, my teachers and coaches were also huge influences on me. I was blessed to have many great ones at every level.” One of those was Clyde Miller, Gardner-Webb’s head baseball coach from 1990-2002. Miller also served as assistant director of athletics until he died in 2005. In 2007, he was posthumously inducted into the Gardner-Webb Athletics Hall of Fame. Rogers said of Miller, “He was one of the biggest influences in my life. He instilled in all of us (players) hard work, discipline, no excuses, respect, and many other positive attributes. We are all better for his influence.” Rogers is also grateful for the professors in the Department of Social Sciences. “Gardner-Webb was exactly what I needed at exactly the right time,” he observed. “I had great professors, who genuinely cared for all of us and knew their content. I was challenged by my professors, and it made me a better person. They were a group of all-stars who would be all-stars on any campus in America. I was blessed to have them as my instructors.” Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at Gardner-Webb.edu. Phil Rogers, center, poses with school personnel and the school mascot after receiving the Region 8 Principal of the Year award. The 2023 N.C. Principal of the Year, Donna Bledsoe (second from left) helped with the surprise presentation.