Filling roles that range from teaching chemistry and performing routine maintenance to working with students as counselors and tutors, Craven Community College (Craven CC) serves its students every day with a workforce of 430 staff and faculty. While the number of people contributing to Craven CC’s success is large and provides a collective benefit for the school’s student population, it is also important to recognize individual achievement.
Winners of the 2018 Employee Excellence Awards, which honors the work of faculty, adjunct faculty and staff at Craven CC, were revealed to the recipients in a surprise announcement led by Dr. Ray Staats in March. This year’s recipients include Cindy Seymour for Faculty Excellence, Melanie Truett for Adjunct Faculty Excellence and Yuko Boyd for Staff Excellence.
“It was really nice to be able to reward them with some recognition that they’ve deserved for a long time,” said Kyler Warner, Craven CC English instructor and chair of the Excellence Awards Committee. “It’s pretty humbling to see other people at their best during these demonstrations and interviews, and so, even though the deliberations did happen, and they were not easy at times, we really couldn’t have gone wrong.”
Seymour, who has been a full-time biology instructor at Craven CC since 2008, is a Craven County native who comes from a family of educators. Upon learning she had received the award, Seymour credited her family and public school system for her success.
“This is a product of having good teachers in Craven County schools, my exposure to a great public education system and the colleagues I continue to teach with today that inspire me,” said Seymour. “I come from a family of teachers and collectively we have 200 years of teaching experience. I’ve never wanted to be anything other than a teacher. It’s definitely in my DNA.”
During the nomination process, instructors are required to demonstrate their teaching abilities by conducting a specific lesson for the nomination committee.
“It was very interactive,” said Warner. “Cindy had us do a little experiment with the DNA sequencing of cheese of all things and trying to figure out how you might be able to determine how a certain kind of cheese that was being branded as a “kind” of cheese was in fact legit or not based on DNA sequencing. She put us in groups, had us following commands and asking questions, and doing things on the board. It was just very interactive. And all of us, I could tell, were pretty wrapped up in the experiment, and it was really super interesting. I hadn’t done anything like that before.”
While Seymour has been an instructor at Craven for 10 years, Truett just joined in 2016 as an adjunct faculty instructor in the physical therapy assistant program. In that short amount of time, she impressed her peers and exuded a love for her work that was easily visible to her students and fellow instructors.
“During her demonstration, she came in and talked about posture, physical therapy, and you could tell immediately that she was very passionate about what she does,” said Warner. “She used to be a physical therapy assistant and did a lot of hands-on things, and she’s a little bit limited in her capabilities now because of an accident that she had, but that’s why she jumped into the teaching realm and is trying to teach other people to do the same thing that she was so active in for so long. And there was a moment in the interview—I hope she wouldn’t mind me saying so—but she got pretty emotional talking about being able to inspire other people to get into the same line of work and help others who have physical difficulties. And so, it was pretty clear during both the demonstration and the interview that she loves what she does, and it’s contagious because by the end we were all pretty wrapped up in what she was saying and doing.”
Truett has worked in home health, the Caswell Center in Kinston, Craven County School System, North Carolina VA retirement home and a skilled nursing facility, but has found her home in education.
“I’ve had some incredible mentors in my life,” she said. “It’s extremely important to me that students be aware of their strengths and weaknesses. We set very high standards and it is a very challenging program. Sometimes they get so focused on a grade they don’t realize how much they’ve learned.”
Faculty award winners have direct interaction with students on a daily basis, while staff members routinely collaborate with each other and faculty members to provide support structures and processes that ensure student success. These processes are particularly important in the registrar’s office, where Staff Excellence Award winner Boyd works as assistant registrar.
“I wasn’t expecting to win,” said Boyd. “I thought I was lucky to be nominated. So, when they came to see me and tell me I had won, it didn’t hit me right away. It did not feel like it was real for a couple of days.”
Boyd joined Craven CC in 1999 as a temporary employee working on a two-week contract. That position then expanded and over time she rose through the ranks to her current position. “The teamwork is what makes it great here,” she said. “I’ve been able to maintain very good relationships with the people I work with, in the student center and across campus. I don’t remember ever having a day where I didn’t want to go to work.”
All three winners will be formally recognized during Craven CC’s graduation ceremony, which will be held May 19 at 9 a.m.
For more information about the Craven CC Excellence awards click here