An instructor who also is leading one of VGCC’s curriculum programs and a director of a jobs skills training program for the unemployed and underemployed have been honored as outstanding employees for 2018-2019 at Vance-Granville Community College.
Stewart Lyon, a Biology instructor at VGCC and the point of contact for the Bioprocess Technology curriculum program at the Franklin County Campus, was named Faculty Member of the Year at the college, and Blondelle Edgerton, director of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) program, was selected as the Staff Member of the Year.
The honors are two of VGCC’s three Glen Raven Excellence in Teaching and Leadership Awards for 2018-2019. Glen Raven, Inc., the custom fabrics manufacturer with a facility in Warren County, is a longtime partner and supporter of the college. In addition to sponsoring the annual stipends to recognize excellence among VGCC instructors and staff members, Glen Raven has endowed several scholarships for students.
Lyon and Edgerton are now eligible to be considered for the N.C. Community College System’s statewide R.J. Reynolds Excellence in Teaching and BB&T Staff Person of the Year awards, respectively.
“Stewart and Blondelle are two outstanding leaders among the faculty and staff at our college,” Interim President Dr. Gordon Burns said. “Every day, they are dedicated to our college’s mission of educating, inspiring and supporting a diverse community of learners to achieve professional and personal success. Their extraordinary commitment, positivity and expertise are appreciated by both students and colleagues.”
Stewart Lyon joined the VGCC faculty in August 2013 as an adjunct instructor for Biology at VGCC’s South Campus in Creedmoor. In January 2014 he came on board as a full-time Biology instructor, teaching classes at all four of VGCC’s campuses — South, Franklin, Warren and Main. In the Fall Semester of 2017 he became the point of contact for the Bioprocess Technology program based at Franklin Campus.
A 2007 graduate of North Carolina State University with his Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences, Lyon earned his Master of Science degree in Molecular Biology and Biotechnology from East Carolina University in 2010. He has a graduate certificate in Business Foundations from ECU, in 2014, and is currently is working in non-degree graduate studies in Chemistry with Montana State University.
“Stewart has a unique approach to teaching cultivated to help students understand why they are learning the course material by connecting the content to aspects of their own lives,” said VGCC’s Interim President Dr. Gordon Burns. “He grabs their attention and the students are more likely to be motivated, resulting in a more successful learning environment. He has built rapport with his students and demonstrated a sincere desire to help them learn.”
Lyon has recently carved out some time from his Biology teaching and leadership of the Bioprocess Technology program to represent VGCC’s faculty on the Achieving the Dream Core Team as the college works to implement, align and scale cutting edge reforms to improve student success, Dr. Burns added.
Among his activities at the college and in the community, Lyon has participated in the Leadership Program of the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce. He has volunteered for area public high school science fairs. He also was an event leader for the Science Olympiad, taught classes for VGCC’s summer Science Camp for middle school children, and coordinated VGCC Earth Day celebrations at Main Campus and Franklin Campus.
“Stewart displays very high levels of professionalism and he intentionally engages students, colleagues and the general public with enthusiasm, positivity, and reminders that we are all making a difference in students’ lives,” said Cecilia Wheeler, VGCC’s Dean of Arts & Sciences.
Blondelle Edgerton came to Vance-Granville in September 1995 as a part-time education specialist for what was the Job Training Partnership Act (JTPA) program, later renamed the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) program. She became full-time in 1999, and in August 2004 she became a program analyst and job developer for WIA. Less than two years later she became the supervisor for the program while still serving as job developer. She was elevated to director of the program, her current position, in February 2013. The program in recent years was renamed Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA).
She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science at East Carolina University in 1994. Since then she has had professional training in nearly two dozen areas related to her role in WIOA. She is a member of the North Carolina Employment Training Association (NCETA), and she volunteers on the Community Advisory Committee of the Franklin Granville Vance Partnership for Children.
“Blondelle is deeply committed to the mission of our college and the North Carolina Community College System to open the doors to educational opportunities for the people of the communities served by Vance-Granville,” said Dr. Burns. “Through her position with the WIOA, she works with the unemployed, underemployed, economic disadvantaged and those who need to upgrade their job skills. She makes sure eligible students get help with tuition, fees, books, supplies, transportation, counseling, work experience and job placement.
“Clearly the right person for this critical job, Blondelle has a heart for her students and understands well the obstacles they face as she helps them ascertain their goals and aspirations,” Dr. Burns said.
Edgerton has built partnerships for work experiences with businesses and organizations in the community, and she has structured her program at VGCC in such a way that it is a model for the Kerr-Tar Council of Governments and the Workforce Development Board, the administrators of the federal funding for the program.
“Blondelle unselfishly assists students and staff far above her normal job responsibilities,” Kali Brown, VGCC’s Dean of Student Support Services, added. “She has assisted other employees with reporting requirements, served as a chaperone at the annual Youth Summit, and even watered plants in our administration building. She is an employee that every supervisor dreams of having.”
Above: VGCC’s 2018-19 award winners are Faculty Member of the Year Stewart Lyon, left, and Staff Member of the Year Blondelle Edgerton, right. Dr. Gordon Burns, VGCC’s Interim President, center, has praised both employees for their commitment to Vance-Granville’s mission of educating, inspiring and supporting students. (VGCC photo)