BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State University has appointed alumna Emma Hatfield-Sidden ’08 ’19 as principal of its newest lab school, the Academy at Elkin, slated to open this fall. Her appointment will take effect May 31.
“Student success is always at the forefront of everything I do,” Hatfield-Sidden said. “With the collaboration and support from both Appalachian State University and Elkin City Schools, the Academy at Elkin will move mountains, and I can’t wait to welcome our future mini-Mountaineers in August!”
The Academy at Elkin’s school-within-a-school model will serve approximately 100 students in second through fourth grades. It will be one of nine lab schools in the state as part of the University of North Carolina System Lab School initiative, which was established by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2016 to improve student performance and provide real-world experience for the preparation of future teachers and school administrators.
“We have seen strong and steady support from the Board of Governors for the App State Academy at Middle Fork lab school, and we appreciate the trust the board has placed in us to replicate this model in other North Carolina school districts,” App State Chancellor Sheri Everts said. “In Walkertown, App State’s laboratory school is changing the trajectory of young children’s lives, and this life-changing work will be expanded when we open the App State Academy in Elkin this fall.”
“Building and sustaining partnerships with our Pre-K-12 schools are crucial to the foundation and future growth of education,” said Dr. Melba Spooner, dean of App State’s Reich College of Education (RCOE). “The Academy at Elkin will provide benefits for students in our educator and leadership preparation programs through authentic and seamless experiences in the classroom and throughout the school.”
Hatfield-Sidden’s vision for the school? “A strong academic force in the community, the Academy at Elkin will reduce barriers, open doors for students and serve as a resource center for families — providing support as well as ways for them to be meaningful participants in their children’s schooling,” she shared.
As principal of the Academy at Elkin, Hatfield-Sidden will provide leadership, management and supervision to promote and support the school’s core commitments:
- Utilize students’ strengths, interests and knowledge to develop relevant and integrated content while embracing growth mindset practices.
- Promote discovery, inquiry and critical thinking through authentic learning experiences.
- Incorporate service-learning through meaningful partnerships with the university and local community.
- Foster leadership opportunities and increase student agency to develop responsible citizens.
She is also tasked with building an inclusive school culture while being committed to data-driven decision-making, the change process and accountability. She will also work to ensure the health, safety and welfare of all students and staff through her guidance for the school’s day-to-day operations.
“With her strong background in working with exceptional children’s programs, Emma recognizes the need to reduce barriers to support students, families and staff,” said Dr. Hannah Reeder, assistant dean of the Reich College of Education and director of the university’s lab schools. “She is well positioned to serve the families of the Academy at Elkin.”
App State’s first lab school, the Academy at Middle Fork, opened in Walkertown in 2018 in partnership with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. With the opening of the Elkin lab school, App State will be the only UNC System institution to operate two lab school programs.
About Emma Hatfield-Sidden
A graduate of App State, Hatfield-Sidden comes to the university from Catawba County Schools, where she has served as auxiliary programs coordinator since July 2021. Her career also includes serving as an exceptional children’s teacher, a district coach and a district administrator.
She has experience — in and outside the classroom — in designing and providing enriching experiences to diverse groups of students and teachers through teaching, assessing, coaching, supervising and leading professional development.
Hatfield-Sidden said she believes in building positive and productive relationships with students, staff and families while reducing barriers and staying committed to lifelong student and staff achievement.
She was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow and graduated from App State in 2008 with an undergraduate degree in special education. She received her master’s degree in school administration from App State in 2019.
Originally from Lenoir, Hatfield-Sidden currently lives in Jonesville, which is located in the Yadkin Valley area.
What do you think?
Share your feedback on this story.
About the Academy at Elkin
A partnership between Appalachian State University and Elkin City Schools, App State’s Academy at Elkin is a free, public lab school located on the campus of Elkin Elementary School. The academy, which opened in August 2022, serves students in second through fourth grades. It is a learner-centered community that promotes exploration-based learning, with an emphasis on improving and enriching students’ literacy as a primary focus. Learn more at https://elkin.appstate.edu.
About the Reich College of Education
Appalachian State University offers one of the largest undergraduate teacher preparation programs in North Carolina, graduating about 500 teachers a year. The Reich College of Education enrolls more than 2,000 students in its bachelor's, master's, education specialist and doctoral degree programs. With so many teacher education graduates working in the state, there is at least one RCOE graduate teaching in every county in North Carolina. Learn more at https://rcoe.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As a premier public institution, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives. App State is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System, with a national reputation for innovative teaching and opening access to a high-quality, affordable education for all. The university enrolls more than 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and 80 graduate majors at its Boone and Hickory campuses and through App State Online. Learn more at https://www.appstate.edu.