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Paula Woodard, center, is presented with the Julia Hardy Outstanding Mentor Award by Willie Gladden and Vanessa Brooks.

NAMS student advocate honored with Julia Hardy Award

ASHEBORO — Paula Woodard, teacher and student advocate at North Asheboro Middle School, has been recognized for her service with the Julia Hardy Outstanding Mentor Award.


Those who qualify for this honor must have gone above and beyond in helping young African American females in their development and growth as they pursue the journey of education and womanhood. 


Qualifications for this award are modeled after ideals Julia Ella Morgan Hardy spent most of her life exhibiting and encouraging in the Asheboro East Side Community.


Graham Groseclose, principal at North Asheboro Middle School, nominated Woodard for the Hardy Award, saying, “I can think of nobody more deserving of a nomination for this award than Paula Woodard. Since I started my career as a teacher at NAMS in 2012, I have watched Ms. Woodard (or ‘Ms. Paula,’ as she is affectionately known by our students) create bonds with children. I have always valued the connections Ms. Paula had with students, but when I returned to NAMS in 2022 as the principal, it really resonated with me just how long Ms. Paula has been mentoring students that have come through our school.”


Groseclose went on to say that the schools’ And-one program pairs students with a staff mentor. “While most staff have one or two ‘And-one’ mentees, Ms. Paula always ends up taking on this responsibility for dozens of students,” Groseclose said. “Mentorship comes naturally to Ms. Paula and she has a gift for truly seeing the good in people. She has a vision and a dream for every child she has a bond with and she takes a personal responsibility to help them see that for themselves.


“Through the years, Ms. Paula has been a counselor, a mom, an advocate and, most importantly, a safe place for students who may have felt like they did not have somebody in their corner. One of the things I admire most about Ms. Paula is her love for all children. Regardless of their background, she makes each child a priority. I believe, without a doubt, that there are many success stories for children in our community that have a Ms. Paula chapter. We are grateful for her work as an employee at our school, but we are even more grateful for the mentor she is for our students.”


After finishing college, Hardy taught for five years in Blacksburg, Va., before moving to North Carolina and teaching an additional 40 years at Trinity Elementary School (five years), Liberty Elementary School (one year) and Ramseur Elementary School (34 years).


During her tenure in Ramseur, she was awarded the honor of Teacher of the Year three times. Hardy had a genuine love for children — not just for their education but their overall well-being.


Her teaching philosophy was “to provide a variety of unique and fun learning experiences so that each child will develop a desire for knowledge.”