Dr. Okie Lee Wolfe will retire from the Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) Carter and Moyers School of Education next month, following 40 years of faithful service.
“For over 40 years Dr. Okie Wolfe has been an undeniable force at Lincoln Memorial University. During that time, nearly all of our education majors have been molded by her instruction,” LMU President B. James Dawson said. “Certainly, Okie’s impact will be felt long after she has taught her last class here. Generations of educators have looked up to her example and her legacy is hard at work in schools across this region, this state and around the world.”
Dr. Wolfe joined the faculty of LMU in 1973 as an instructor and chair of the Education Department. Throughout her tenure she moved up in faculty rank and served in a number of leadership roles. She has been the director of certification, student education advisor, coordinator of diversity trips to Cherokee, N.C., and served as director of student teaching for 32 years. Additionally she has been an ambassador for the University, recruiting students, representing the University at meetings and serving as a liaison to the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians.
Her service to LMU has included participation on numerous committees from Academic Council to World School and many others. Her classes are always ranked among students’ favorites annually.
Dr. Wolfe has mentored virtually every undergraduate education major in some form or fashion over her 40 years of service.
Dr. Wolfe’s contagious energy and her ability to push others to do their best have touched many lives. Her teaching abilities have been recognized through a host of awards, including being named Tennessee Education Association’s Most Distinguished Classroom Teacher in Higher Education in 1993. Dr. Wolfe was inducted into the LMU Educators Hall of Fame in 2009 and received the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award for humanitarian effort and spirit of community from LMU in 2010.
Dr. Wolfe has served as a consultant and presenter on teaching and learning styles (personal/ team coaching and management styles) to over 300 local, state, regional, national and international in-services, symposiums, congress, summits and conferences. She received the prestigious international award for her “Significant Contributions to the Process Communication Model” from Dr. Taibi Kahler of Kahler Communication in 2009. Dr. Wolfe’s plans are to continue consulting and presenting into her retirement.
When asked how she remained so successful throughout 40 years at LMU, Dr. Wolfe said that she applied her philosophy of teaching regarding learning styles in her own classroom. “It’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is,” she said. She went on to explain it is the way she teaches education students to teach students in the classroom. “You teach students – they are not good students, they are not bad students, they are just students. The teacher must not pre-judge what a student can do. The teacher must identify the student’s potential through their learning style and teach to the student’s learning styles. Then the student can be successful. Many of my students were not aware of what they really could do until they understood their own learning style and realized that not everyone learned the way they learned.”
She reflected back on her career and stressed how being the director of graduation has been one of the all-time favorite things about her career. Seeing all of the students and what they have accomplished during their time at LMU brings her much joy.
The esteemed educator’s career spans 46 years. Dr. Wolfe has taught kindergarten, elementary grades, high school and at the University level. She is certified in K-9, K-12 music, professional administration PK-12, business 7-12, advanced principal K-12, supervisor of instruction K-12, supervisor of attendance and vocational cosmetology.
Dr. Wolfe is a graduate of Middlesboro High School and holds a bachelor’s degree from Union College, a master’s degree from East Tennessee State University and an educational doctorate from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Dr. Wolfe is also a licensed hairstylist and instructor in Cosmetology in Kentucky and Tennessee. Dr. Wolfe joined her mother, Juanita Collins Latiff, in 1973 in the operation of the family business, Collins School of Cosmetology, until it was sold in 2000.
Dr. Wolfe has three children, son David Petersen, an electrical engineer, and daughter-in-law Sharon, granddaughters Sela and Cady Petersen, of Canton, Ga; and daughters Tiffany Wolfe, kindergarten teacher at Ellen Myers Primary, granddaughters Emma and Jenna Barnes of Harrogate; and Lynlee Marie Wolfe, M.D, University of Tennessee Medical Center’s High Risk Obstetrical Consultants, Knoxville. She has one sister, Helen Latiff Coleman, of Harrogate. Dr. Wolfe resides in Harrogate with John Von Elling, Sr.