NSU Will Honor Distinguished Educators

NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University’s Gallaspy College of Education and Human Development will honor several individuals with induction into the Hall of Distinguished Educators and will honor two Distinguished Young Professionals during Homecoming festivities Saturday, Oct. 21. Individuals will be honored during a reunion at 1 p.m. in the Commons Area of the Teacher Education Center, followed by the induction ceremony at 1:30 p.m. in the TEC Auditorium.

This year’s Distinguished Educators are Billy Crawford of New Orleans, Dr. Larry Gracie of Oriental, North Carolina; Dr. Steve Horton and Dr. Connie Melder of Natchitoches and Judy Lincecum Stewart of Broussard. Sedrick Clark of Gladewater, Texas, and Jeffrey Powell of Plaquemine are the Young Professionals.

Billy Crawford

Crawford graduated from NSU with a bachelor’s degree in social studies and English in 1968, earned a master’s degree in school administration in 1972 and completed 30+ hours of additional courses in education and administration at Louisiana State University. He began his career as a teacher in Vernon Parish in 1969 and from that time until 1995 served as a coach, counselor, assistant principal and principal in Leesville, Anacoco and Hornbeck. In 1995 he became a consultant to the Louisiana State Department of Education working with 15 Louisiana high schools to improve the teaching and learning process.

He then served as assistant superintendent of the Louisiana State Department of Education in the Office of Student and School Performance and as a consultant to Ascension Parish Schools and Waynesboro, Mississippi Middle School. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Crawford served as a school counselor at Hurricane Katrina Elementary School in Scotlandville for evacuated children in shelters from 2005-06 and at a counselor in the New Orleans Recovery School District. Crawford and his wife Callie have four children and seven grandchildren.


Larry Gracie

Gracie graduated from Northwestern State in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree and earned a master’s in counseling and student personnel administration from Texas A&M-Commerce (formerly East Texas State University) in 1971. He heard a Ph.D. in education management system and design with a concentration in higher education and student development at Florida State University in 1976. He began his career at the University of New Orleans in 1971 working with student activities and in financial aid and from 1976-77 was director of sponsored research and special projects for the State University System of Florida. At North Carolina State University, he served from 1977-1994 as as coordinate or student affairs research, dean of student development, associate director of university planning and analysis and director of space planning and management.

Gracie served as district executive for the Boy Scouts of America from 2006-2008 and was dean of curriculum, interim president and chief academic officer and vice president of instructional services with Pamlico Community College from 2008-2013. Gracie and his wife Joan have five children, 10 grandchildren and many pets.


Steve Horton

Horton earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with concentrations in news editorial and public relations and a minor in business administration and a bachelor’s in secondary education-English and journalism in 1988. He earned a master’s degree in journalism at LSU in 1990 and a Ph.D. in vocational education with a concentration in adult and extension education and a minor in mass communication at LSU in 1998. Horton is the fourth generation of his family to earn teacher education degrees at Northwestern.

Horton began his career teaching at Captain Shreve High School, then taught journalism and served as director of student publications from 1990-97 when he was named director of Alumni Affairs. He then served as a professor and head of the Department of Journalism from 1999-2005 before serving as vice provost and chief academic officer, dean of the Graduate School and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 2005-2016. He is currently the executive director of the Louisiana School for Math, Sciences and the Arts. Horton and his wife Emilyn have two children.


Connie Melder

Melder earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education at LSU in 1977, a master’s in special education at NSU in 1984 and a doctoral degree in curriculum in and instruction at Louisiana Tech in 2014. She began her career as a classroom teacher and hearing impaired program coordinator for the Natchitoches Parish School Board from 1977-85. She was supervising teacher at NSU Middle Lab from 1985-2001 and joined the faculty at NSU in 2001.

Since 2007, Melder has been director of field experience and clinical practice and an associate professor with NSU’s Gallaspy College of Education and Human Development. Melder and her husband Sonny have three children and three grandchildren.



Judy Stewart

Stewart earned a degree in math education at Northwestern State in 1976 and took graduate classes at McNeese State University and the University of Louisiana-Lafayette from 1982-86. She taught in nine parishes and all but two of her more than 37 years in the classroom were in public schools teaching match and social studies to middle schoolers and algebra and senior math in high schools. She spent one year teaching elementary math in a private school and another year traveling throughout Louisiana tutoring students who had not passed the fourth grade math LEAP test.

Stewart taught and coached gifted math students for Literary Rally and State Mathcounts and at one point developed a team that successfully competed in competitive math tournaments. She and her husband Bart Stewart have three children and nine grandchildren.


Sedric Clark

Clark earned bachelor’s degree in secondary education at LSU in 1994 and a master’s in education Leadership at NSU in 1996. He will earn his doctor of education in educational leadership from Louisiana Tech University Tech University next year. Clark began his career as a teacher in DeSoto Parish before serving as assistant principal at Captain Shreve High School in Shreveport from 199-2003 and at Baton Rouge Magnet from 2003-04. He was principal at Foster Middle School in the Longview, Texas, Independent School system from 2004-2010 before leading Mansfield High as principal from 2010-17. He is currently superintendent for Gladewater Independent Schools.

During his time as principal at Mansfield High, the school rose from a D rating on the state’s academic watch list to a B rating, going from a 66 percent graduation rate to a 96 percent graduation rate. Clark is married to Katonya Samuels Clark.


Jeffrey Powell

Powell earned a degree in business administration at LSU in 1999, earned alternate teaching certification in middle school mathematics at NSU in 2004 and completed a master’s in education leadership at NSU in 2006. He taught high school science, special education middle school match, reading, science and social studies and coached football track and basketball in Grant Parish for 6-1/2 years before serving as assistant principal at Buckeye and Tioga Jr. High and director of middle schools and magnet programs in Rapides Parish. He is currently the chief academic officer for Iberville Parish School Board.

Powell and his wife Bridget are parents to six children.


Information on all activities and events surrounding Northwestern State’s Homecoming celebration can be found at nothwesternstatealumni.com.