PCC Honors Five Instructors for Teaching Excellence

PCC recognized five faculty members for excellence this month. They are: (top, left to right) Daniela Long, Tamara Flynn and Christopher Harrison. (Bottom, l-r) Jennifer Leigh and Ryan Spruill.

WINTERVILLE—Pitt Community College has recognized five faculty members for teaching excellence, including Daniela Long, who received the school’s highest honor for instructors — the Joseph E. Downing Award for Excellence in Teaching.

In addition to Long, instructors Tamara Flynn, Christopher Harrison, Jennifer Leigh and Ryan Spruill received 2021 Faculty Excellence Awards. As this year’s Downing Award recipient, Long will serve as PCC’s nominee for the N.C. Community College System’s teaching excellence award in 2022.

A native of Romania, Long has taught math at Pitt since 2004. Dr. Thomas Gould, PCC Vice President of Academic Affairs and Student Development Services, said she earned the Downing Award by providing first-rate service to students and participating in “professional development activities that far exceed expected standards.”

“(Daniela) has demonstrated superior student engagement, providing them with guidance and opportunities to succeed on many levels,” Gould said. “She has demonstrated a constant improvement to the classroom experience through Quality Matters on the national level to help students be successful and persist in their studies.”

When the coronavirus outbreak forced PCC to move classes online in 2020, Long realized there could be challenges to keeping students engaged with learning math while studying remotely. She began participating in professional development to learn best practices that could be incorporated into her online courses to make them as interesting and effective as possible.

As a result, several of her courses have earned the Quality Matters Certification Mark, an internationally-recognized symbol of course excellence, this spring. And just as importantly, students noticed and expressed their appreciation for Long’s dedication.

Winterville’s Kendra Floyd nominated Long for a Faculty Excellence Award, saying that when she decided to further her education as “an older student” she “was lucky enough to get Mrs. Long” as her statistics instructor. Floyd said she was nervous about returning to school and even more apprehensive about taking classes online.

“Needless to say, Mrs. Long has eased my uncertainty and helped me flourish as a student,” Floyd wrote on her nomination form. “… I am truly grateful for everything she has done for me and truly appreciate all the hard work she has put into this class. She has made me a believer in myself and has inspired me to achieve greatness.”

Flynn’s nominators cited her “strong commitment to her students and the college.” Like Long, she has made great strides to ensure her Health Information Technology courses and learning activities are high-quality and engaging for students.

A Criminal Justice instructor, Harrison received rave reviews from students, who noted his passion for teaching. His work with students was described as “innovative, creative and effective.”

Leigh, a Developmental English instructor, brings enthusiasm to the classroom. Her lessons often include singing, dancing and games that create a fun and engaging learning environment for students, many of whom have returned to campus to thank her for the impact she made on their lives.

As a PCC Polysomnography graduate, Spruill knows what it takes for students to succeed in the program, as well as the barriers many of them must overcome. He utilizes that firsthand knowledge as Polysomnography’s clinical coordinator and is continually adapting his instructional practices to meet their learning needs in the classroom and clinical environments.