It has become a tradition at Craven Community College (Craven CC) that the recipients of its annual college excellence awards be surprised on the job. A large contingent of leadership and members of the awards committee, led by president Dr. Ray Staats with balloon bouquets in hand, walked the New Bern campus on the morning of Thursday, March 9 to accomplish this special mission.
“It is always fun to surprise someone with good news, but, more so, it is an honor to recognize our college’s very best,” said Staats.
First to be surprised was Emily Stewart, winner of the 2017 Adjunct Excellence in Teaching Award. “I was in complete shock,” said Stewart. A “fake” meeting needed to take place to ensure Steward would be at the New Bern campus because she teaches history at the Havelock location. The first person she told was her mother, Debra Balance. “She said, ‘I told you, you could do it,’” said Stewart.
But that wasn’t the only surprise for Stewart that morning. She was also offered a full-time position as Campus Life coordinator for which she applied. Stewart said she looks forward to new and exciting challenges and opportunities to impact students outside of the classroom. Stewart has been working as a part-time instructor since August 2014. She holds a master’s degree in history from East Carolina University and plans to further her education in the future.
Next in on the awards entourage’s list was Mit McLean, winner of the Staff Excellence Award. McLean was called out of a meeting to her office. As she attempted to contact her supervisor, she said she saw Staats with balloons. She said her first words were, “You’re Kidding!”
McLean began as a recruiter at Craven CC in 1989. Under the advice of her mentor Clifford Swain, she pursued a master’s degree in counseling from East Carolina University. “When I was out recruiting, I discovered that there were other reasons students had preventing them from going back to school, and I didn’t feel I was equipped to address them,” said McLean. She said the award confirmed that her work as an academic advisor is making an impact on students.
Last, but not least, was Kyle Warner, winner of the Excellence in Teaching Award. Warner was surprised in front of his American Literature II students during class. “I was excited and I was shocked more than anything,” said Warner. When asked why he thinks he received the award, Warner responded, “I would like to think that the committee experienced the same rapport I share with my students in the classroom.”
Warner has taught English at Craven CC for almost 10 years. Warner has a master’s degree in English language and literature from Appalachian State University. He plans to pursue a doctoral degree in literature.
The annual awards process includes a nomination period in the fall. Any student, staff or faculty can submit a nomination. Nominees are invited to submit an application for consideration. All applicants are then reviewed by a committee chaired by the previous year’s winner of the faculty and staff awards. Finalists are selected to be interviewed by the committee. Award winners are qualified to apply for the annual State Board of Community College awards.
All three winners expressed deep appreciation for the recognition and for their fellow Craven CC colleagues.
For more information about the annual college awards, visit the college’s website at www.cravencc.edu/excellenceawards.
Deborah Kania is the director of marketing, communications and development liaison at Craven Community College.
Article originally appeared in the New Bern Sun Journal.