Jim Hart Award Winners


Laura Sam

Laura Sam has served as the on-site director for Governor’s School East (GSE) since 2016. Prior to that, she was GSE’s choral music instructor for two years.

During her time with GSE, Laura has been an inspirational leader to staff and students. She always maintains the highest of standards and expectations for Governor’s School (GS) program, her staff, and herself. NC Department of Public Instruction leadership describe Laura as a passionate leader, who is beloved by students and staff alike, and someone who’s visionary leadership has helped GSE thrive and positioned it well for the future. Her work is intensely focused on the students, their experience, and their safety.

Laura is a light on campus in every day, even the toughest ones. She has helped lead the GS through budget issues in 2017, a session cancellation in 2020, the logistical challenges of COVID mitigation during the summers of 2021 and 2022, a dormitory fire in 2022, and many other demanding issues. Among her many gifts, perhaps the greatest is that, even on when unexpected challenges arise, Laura is always able to see the beauty and promise of the GS and its students.

Laura’s ability to connect with students as the site director is truly amazing. Encumbered by so many administrative duties, it would be understandable if Laura only connected with a handful of students. Instead, every summer, it’s just the opposite. Walking through the GSE campus with Laura is like accompanying a celebrity. Seemingly every student knows and loves her. Their reactions to her are a testament to how completely she devotes herself to them and GSE. In addition to being a joyous presence on campus, Laura is a wonderful supporter of the GSE staff, as well as her colleagues at Governor’s School West (GSW).

For those and many other reasons, the NC Governor’s School Foundation is proud to honor Laura Sam as a Jim Hart Governor’s School Champion Award winner for 2022.