By Jaymie Baxley
January 25, 2014
Regular readers of this column will remember that Robeson Community College’s Bob Moore received statewide recognition this past fall as Small Business Center Director of the Year for the entire North Carolina Community College System. Folks around the state may begin wondering what we have in the water down here in Robeson County as another staff member recently took top honors at the state level.
This past fall, Biology instructor Courtney Kilgore nominated fellow Biology instructor Jennifer Brown for RCC’s Instructor of the Year award. As Instructor of the Year for RCC, Brown’s name was submitted to the state board of community colleges for statewide recognition. Each of the 58 community colleges in the system are eligible to submit one candidate each year. On Jan. 17, the state board announced that, out of the 58 nominees statewide, Brown was selected as the recipient of the 2014 R. J. Reynolds Excellence in Teaching Award for the North Carolina Community College System.
Brown, a native of Robeson County, graduated from Lumberton High School and earned her bachelor’s degree in Science Education with a concentration in Biology from The University of North Carolina at Pembroke in December 1998. She began working as a comprehensive science teacher at Red Springs High School in January 1999. While working with the public schools, she completed her master’s degree in May 2003. Since joining RCC as a Biology iInstructor in 2005, Brown has also served as principal investigator on a NASA Curriculum Improvement Partnership Award for the Integration of Research in the undergraduate curriculum. As part of this grant, she was instrumental in sending four students and two faculty members to NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., and two students and two faculty members to Kennedy Space Center in Florida for summer internships.
Established in 1985 by the state board with financial support from R.J. Reynolds, the Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes full-time teachers who exemplify the highest standards of instruction and professionalism in the classroom and who consistently demonstrate excellence in service to their colleges and communities. Brown prides herself on creating a student-centered classroom environment, incorporating hands-on learning resulting in students who are actively engaged in the learning process. Past and current students frequently refer to Brown as a mentor. In addition to classroom instruction, she is highly engaged with educational opportunities outside the classroom — serving as president of the Faculty Association, a grant evaluator for NASA, as well as coordinator and facilitator of two summer camps geared toward Science, Technology, Engineering and Math careers.
In the almost 30 years since the award’s inception, Brown is the first recipient from Robeson Community College. Though Brown’s supervisor and Science Department chairperson Louis McIntyre says the award is well deserved, Brown deflects her individual achievement.
“I appreciate the congratulations, but this is good for the college. It really is a team effort. Both professionally and personally I have good people around me. We have good students. We are only successful if we have students who are successful,” she said.
Robeson Community College congratulates Jennifer on this accomplishment. As long as the college continues its tradition of attracting some of the best faculty in the state, its students will continue to be successful.