SALISBURY, N.C. – Rowan-Cabarrus Community College honored its “COVID-19 Heroes” at a recent employee convocation at Atrium Health Ballpark, thanking faculty and staff members for their diligence in keeping the College’s five campuses safe during the past 18 months.
“COVID has challenged our staff and our students, yet we have proven how resilient we are as an institution and as a community,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “The definition of a ‘hero’ is a person of distinguished courage and ability, admired for his or her brave deeds and noble qualities, and our faculty and staff have been heroes for our students every day, supporting them in any way needed to foster their success.”
Three employees were honored with “Golden Thermometer Awards,” having received the most nominations from their peers for supporting the College during the pandemic.
Kim Barnett, executive assistant for the College’s events and logistics department, was honored for coordinating the health screening process at all five Rowan-Cabarrus campuses to ensure safety as faculty, staff and visitors arrived. Her work included managing employees and students who elected to help staff the screening shifts, mastering a new software management system, and dealing with many last-minute scheduling changes.
“Kim worked daily to ensure that screening coverage on all campuses continually exceeded expectations, working well beyond her typical 8 to 5 shift,” one nominator said.
Melissa Reid, instructor and mathematics department chair, was recognized for going the extra mile to ensure that students and faculty felt supported. She provided training, videos and personal guidance as instructors transitioned to online teaching and helped introduce new technology and online tools to increase student achievement.
“If there is a real-life superhero, it would be Melissa Reid,” wrote one nominator. “She deserves so much recognition for her selfless leadership throughout the pandemic.”
Rowan-Cabarrus Executive Director of Adult Education and Literacy Jay Taylor received the most nominations from across the College for assisting others during the pandemic. He provided deer meat from his own freezer to others when there was a nationwide meat shortage and personally delivered toilet tissue and gasoline to those in need when availability continued to pose issues. At the campus health screening tent, he volunteered for the early morning shift with a smile and a word of encouragement, often bringing doughnuts for his fellow screeners.
“In his true style, day in and day out, regardless of temperatures or inclement weather, he was dedicated and committed to keeping the campuses safe,” one nominator wrote of Taylor. “The world would be a better place if we had more people like him,” another added.
The following employees also were nominated individually by co-workers for their efforts to assist students and the College:
Alan Thompson, Allison Scott, Barb Collins, Brenda Mauldin, Carl Ritchie, Caroll Hodgson, Carter Wingfield, Chad Nichols, Dr. Michael Quillen, Dusty Saine, Faith Jelley, Gary Anderson, Jon Crockett, Judy Lee, Katie Herring, Kelly McCowan, Ken Ingle, Laurie Robb, Mandy Thacker, Misty Moler, Nekita Eubanks, Roberta Mahatha, Sherry Strawn, Terri McKnight, and Zhivi Williams.
Groups and departments nominated included the College’s Navigation Station staff at North and South Campus, Career and Academic Advising, the Continuing Education Division and Training Services Team, the English Department, Occupational Therapy Assistant faculty, Enrollment and Recruiting, the Testing Center, Student Success Services, the Student COVID Support Team, and Rowan-Cabarrus faculty. President Carol Spalding and the Board of Trustees also received nominations.
“As a College, we pivoted successfully from face-to-face instruction to virtual because we were already largely prepared and trained,” Spalding said. “Whether employees were screening campus visitors in the pouring rain or freezing cold, moving course content online, disinfecting our spaces and reconfiguring classrooms to ensure social distancing, or serving our students by assisting them with financial aid, academic advising, counseling, technology and more, they are all heroes.”
Rowan-Cabarrus continues to follow its “Stay Well, Stay Connected” plan to ensure safety on all campuses, including a requirement that all students, employees and visitors wear a mask indoors regardless of vaccination status.