SANFORD - Jessica Brown, a science instructor at Central Carolina Community College, has been honored by the North Carolina Community College System with its 2008 R.J. Reynolds Excellence in Teaching Award.
This prestigious award recognizes the full-time instructor from the system's 58 community colleges who exemplifies the highest standards of instruction and professionalism in the classroom and who consistently demonstrates excellence in service to their college and community.
The award was presented during the NCCCS's Day of Recognition Awards Luncheon Nov. 21 at the RBC Center in Raleigh. The award is sponsored by the State Board of Community Colleges and endowed by the R.J. Reynolds Co. Brown received an award plaque and a check for $8,000. In addition, the CCCC Foundation will receive $2,000.
"It is truly a blessing and an unexpected honor for myself and the college," said Brown, who teaches at the Lee County Campus. "As instructors, we're given a stewardship not just to teach, but to change lives. The reward of teaching comes from the students - this is for them."
Brown has been a full-time faculty member at the college since 2001. She teaches general biology, anatomy, physiology and forensic science.
Brown said she "grew up in a biology lab," learning about living creatures from her father, Jim Hall, who always shared his love and knowledge of living creatures with her. He taught biology at Central Piedmont Community College and would bring specimens home to share with Brown and sister, Meredith.
Brown's students have described her as "awesome," and said she brings "a joy to learning," makes difficult subjects easy to understand, always has her door open to students, and has inspired many to continue on in the sciences.
She received her bachelor's degree in animal science in 1997 from NCSU and her M.S. in Animal Physiology from Clemson University in 1999. She will soon receive her M.S. in Forensic Science from the University of Florida.
Every year, each of colleges in the NCCCS selects an Instructor of the Year; Brown was CCCC's choice. The NCCCS chooses the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award from these.
Other finalists for the Excellence in Teaching Award were Tim Haley, professor of music, Sandhills C.C.; Katherine Allen, Special Education/Early Childhood instructor, Blue Ridge C.C.; Cathy Cook, Communications instructor, Rowan Cabarrus C.C.; and Maria Orsini, Associate Degree Nursing instructor, Vance-Granville C.C.
System and college employees who retired in 2008 were recognized at the event, including Central Carolina's Ray Epley, former Industrial Relations officer, who retired after 40 years with the college, and Dr. Matt Garrett, president from 2004 to 2008, who retired after 30 years with the NCCCS, 21 of them at Central Carolina.
Also at the Day of Recognition, the state board presented NCCCS President Emeritus H. Martin Lancaster with the I.E. Ready Award, the highest honor it bestows. Lancaster retired as NCCCS president in April, after serving in that position for almost 11 years.
Louise Matthews, executive director of the Carteret Community College Foundation, received the 2008 BB&T Staff Person of the Year Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement by a staff person in the community college system.
The board also presented the NCCCS Distinguished Partners for Excellence Award to two businesses that exemplified commitment to workforce development through their partnerships with community colleges. The businesses are Volvo Construction Equipment, for its partnership with Asheville-Buncombe Technical C.C., and Shelton Vineyards, for its partnership with Surry C.C.