The Northeast Alabama Community College (NACC) Foundation is proud to announce a new memorial scholarship. The Hilda Thornbury Fears and Carol McKown Fears Memorial Teacher Scholarship will be available to current Northeast students who are also graduates of Sylvania High School.
Established by Captain John A. Fears, USN (Ret.) and Diane R. Fears, HMCM, USNR (Ret.), this scholarship donation will enable him to honor his mother and late wife while also fulfilling his desire to give back to his alma mater (Sylvania High School) approaching the 60th anniversary of his high school graduation. Fears and his late wife, Carol McKown Fears, had also discussed giving back to Northeast for many years.
Hilda Thornbury Fears graduated from DeKalb County High School in 1928 and furthered her education at Athens College. She completed her degree in 1930 and began her 41-year DeKalb County teaching career at the Rock Bridge School on Lookout Mountain before her 20th birthday. She boarded with the Culpepper family and borrowed a mule to ride home to White Hall community for weekends with family.
Mrs. Hilda Fears taught at various schools through the 1930s and married career Navy man A. M. Fears in December of 1932. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree at George Peabody College for Teachers in 1938. In 1947, following assignments at Plainview and Valley Head, Hilda began teaching at Sylvania High School for the first high school graduating class in 1948. That assignment lasted through the graduating class of 1961, and she then taught another 10 years at Ider High School, retiring in 1971.
Carol McKown Fears also graduated from DeKalb High School, but with the class of 1958. Speaking about his late wife, Mr. Fears explained, “Carol McKown Fears and her friend discovered after their freshman year in high school that summer school wasn't just for those who had to attend to make up failures, but also for those who enjoyed learning and needed something to do during summer break. As a result, they were advanced to the senior class after sophomore year, not popular with either old or new classmates.”
Carol continued the year-round school routine by enrolling at Jacksonville State immediately and graduated with a triple major in Languages (Spanish, French, and English) in August 1961. Carol then left Alabama to accept her first teaching assignment at Newnan High School in Newnan, Georgia, barely older than the seniors in her Spanish classes, which also included a witty sophomore, the late columnist/humorist Lewis Grizzard.
After one year in Georgia, she returned home to Fort Payne and accepted a position at Sylvania High School beginning in the fall of 1962. While teaching at Sylvania High School, she continued her graduate education through night classes and summer sessions at University of Alabama and was awarded her master’s degree in education in August 1964.
Following her third year on faculty at Sylvania High School, she was selected as a member of the inaugural faculty for the brand new Northeast State Junior College, now Northeast Alabama Community College. She taught English, Spanish, sponsored the Debate Team as the faculty representative, and remained on the faculty for three full years. “We married in December 1966, but despite marrying a career Navy man like my mother, she was able to continue her position at Northeast State Junior College until moving to California to join me in 1968,” said Fears.
“The fact is that Carol and my mother (Hilda T. Fears) were the two most impactful teachers in my life and taught at Sylvania High School,” explained Fears. “Carol was selected to the inaugural faculty at the then Northeast State Junior College, and both would surely endorse the aid being provided to assist their 21st century replacements along the path to success.”
John Fears graduated from Sylvania High School in 1961 after being a student of his mother. He attended Marion Military Institute, Auburn University, and the United States Naval Academy en route to Navy flight training in 1965. Upon completion of flight training in December of 1966, he was commissioned, received his wings, and immediately married the late Carol McKown Fears. John served in the Navy for 27 years, and in 1992 they retired in Jacksonville, Florida. Carol passed away in 2007 after 40 years of marriage. John subsequently met and married the former Diane Racine.
Captain John A. Fears and Diane R. Fears are pleased to sponsor this scholarship in memory of Fears’s mother and late wife. Honoring their contributions to education, the scholarship will be available to students majoring in education.
Students must be a graduate of Sylvania High School and of Sophomore status at NACC having completed 30 hours or more to apply. Students must also be enrolled full-time at NACC and maintain a GPA of 3.5 or higher. The scholarship will cover tuition, fees, and/or books.
Through the generosity of donors such as the Fears, the NACC Foundation assists students in achieving their educational goals by providing financial assistance. Since 2011, the NACC Foundation has provided scholarships to over 279 students totaling $430,000.
For more information about financing scholarships through major gifts and estate giving, please contact Heather Rice at 256.638.4418 ext. 2301 or email email@example.com.
Students wishing to apply for the Hilda Thornbury Fears and Carol McKown Fears Memorial Teacher Scholarship or other NACC scholarships may do so by completing the online application at www.nacc.edu.