Retiring VGCC educator receives honor from Governor
Longtime Vance-Granville Community College faculty member Jacquelin Heath was recently honored with the Cardinal Award from North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory as she prepared to retire. The award was presented to her by the president of VGCC, Dr. Stelfanie Williams, at a holiday social held Dec. 15, at which Heath and other recent retirees were recognized.
A resident of Henderson, Heath is retiring on Dec. 31 with a longer tenure than any retiree in the history of the college: 40 years and three months. She has served for most of those years as head of the School-Age Education program.
The Cardinal Award is a prestigious honor that recognizes individuals who have contributed at least 30 years of exemplary public service to the state of North Carolina.
“Many recognitions may come in life, but one from the state of North Carolina stands as one of the highlights,” Heath said. “The Cardinal Award was a wonderful surprise. During my employment, I didn’t think about who would get the credit. I just wanted to get the job done.”
She added that receiving this award in front of her colleagues made it even more meaningful. “I am grateful for many things in life, but most blessed by being a member of the Vance-Granville Community College family,” Heath said.
Heath joined the faculty at VGCC on Sept. 15, 1976, when the college’s Main Campus was brand-new, and the institution had only recently made the transition from a technical institute to a comprehensive community college. In her four decades at VGCC, she has served with all six of the college’s presidents.
“The Cardinal Award is a fitting tribute to Jackie’s devotion to VGCC and to education,” said Dr. Williams. “Not only has she directly educated, inspired and supported countless students who went on to successful careers in public schools and other organizations, but she has also been a champion of community involvement that connects VGCC to other educational institutions and local partners.”
Heath served as the advisor for the Student North Carolina Association of Educators at VGCC for 31 years, which she founded as the first community college chapter in the state; as a long-time member of the National Education Association; as a member of the board of directors for the Tar Heel branch of the American Association of University Women and of the national AAUW; and as a member of the Henderson-Vance County Human Relations Commission for nine years. She has presented at the annual conference of the North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs; been a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority’s Nu Chi Omega Chapter with 27 consecutive years of membership; served as co-chair of VGCC’s Faculty and Staff Drive for its Endowment Fund; served with Head Start, the United Way of Vance County and Spring Street Baptist Church; and volunteered with community partners like the Boys & Girls Clubs and the Masonic Home for Children in Oxford to strengthen local efforts to educate children.
During the holiday social, VGCC Education Department Chair Tracey Bennett Carter also announced that the college’s Arts & Sciences division had made a contribution to the Vance County unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs in her honor.
Heath earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education in 1974 from North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University and her Master of Science in Education with a Concentration in Early Childhood Education from N.C. A&T in 1975. She also completed additional graduate studies at North Carolina Central University in 1982.
Heath has been awarded the Director’s Award of Achievement by the North Carolina Center for Afterschool Programs, which recognized her for accomplishments including the implementation of “Upping Your Afterschool Game,” a training program. Her School-Age Education program was honored multiple times as a “Friend of Education” by Vance County Schools for its work placing students in local schools for internships. Under her leadership, Vance-Granville’s chapter of Student North Carolina Association of Educators was given the Membership Growth Award for its efforts to build the organization. Heath has been published twice in the National Education Association’s national magazine. She has also been named VGCC’s instructor of the year for the Division of Arts & Sciences.
Above: Dr. Stelfanie Williams (left), president of VGCC, presents the Cardinal Award to Jacquelin Heath. (VGCC photo)