Carol Hughes, lecturer in management and accountancy at UNC Asheville, has been teaching for the past 20 years, making an impact in the classroom and in the community. She has many awards that recognize her remarkable teaching career at both A-B Tech Community College and UNC Asheville, and in August of 2018 she was given a national award by the American Accounting Association for demonstrating outstanding teaching in accounting. She was chosen to represent the two-year college division of the national award and was given a prize of a silver medal and $25,000 dollars.
Hughes was chosen this year as the best representative of being a remarkable teacher for accounting across all of the two-year accounting college teachers in the country.
At A-B Tech and at UNC Asheville, Hughes teaches Introduction to Accounting, tax courses, and personal finance classes. In all of her classes, she tries to create a supportive environment by caring about the students, making sure they understand the material and getting them to communicate. One of her award-winning teaching strategies is getting each student to say something the first day in order to get them talking to each other, face to face, rather than texting.
It’s all about “getting familiar with someone, someone who you can sit down with and talk out the ideas or someone willing to take notes for you when if absent,” Hughes said, as well as “getting students comfortable with each other and comfortable with me.”
Hughes says she still struggles to get her incoming students to not be terrified of math, but she tries to assure the students with a number phobia to look at from a different approach. “Accounting is more of a logical process, so getting them to understand the logical process instead of concentrating on the math part of it helps alleviate that fear,” she said.
Hughes explained another challenge that comes with being an accounting teacher is that it is constantly changing–it can be hard to stay current and up to date with the new accounting processes and findings. But for her, the reward of teaching is worth it. “I just love working with students and I love when they are successful,” Hughes said. “I get to follow their careers and what they accomplish so that’s a wonderful thing.”
Beyond the classroom, Hughes is involved in many teaching accounting organizations and local community nonprofits as well. Hughes serves on Board of Directors of TACTYC (Teachers of Accounting at Two Year Colleges), Vice President of the Two Year College section of the AAA (American Accounting Association), Asheville and Southeaster Committee of the Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum for AAA (American Accounting Association). Locally she serves on the Audit Committee of the Habitat of Humanity, the Board of Directors of Fletcher Arts and Heritage Association and in the past has served for the Asheville Humane Society.
“Teaching has its own rewards,” Hughes said, “and I think I make a greater difference by teaching than by practicing in the accounting profession.”