Science Instructor Earns Top Faculty Honor

Prior to social distancing and teleworking due to the coronavirus, PCC held a celebration on campus to recognize this year's Faculty Excellence Award recipients. Along with PCC Vice President of Academic Affairs and Student Services Tom Gould (right), they are: (left to right) Patricia Adams, Kenneth Pearce, Wanda Tenpenny, Nicole Franklin and Madeline Beamon.

WINTERVILLE—Ten years into the fourth occupation he’s tried, it appears Kenneth Pearce has discovered his true calling to be teaching, particularly now that he has received Pitt Community College’s highest faculty honor.

Pearce, who teaches chemistry classes, was named this year’s recipient of the Joseph E. Downing Award for Excellence in Teaching. He was one of five PCC faculty members nominated for the honor, along with Patricia Adams, Madeline Beamon, Nicole Franklin and Wanda Tenpenny.

“(Kenneth) just works hard helping students, and his patience with students having difficulty with the material being covered in class is top-notch,” said PCC Science Department Chair Jeff Rorer, who is Pearce’s supervisor.

Pearce said he was honored to receive the Downing Award and appreciated the acknowledgement of his hard work.

“I was grateful to be recognized for the commitment and enthusiasm I have for my students and the community,” he said. “Pitt Community College is a great place. The teamwork, camaraderie, and overall good vibes are wonderful. Having worked in industry and other fields, I can say with certainty that we have something special here at Pitt.”

A Winterville resident, Pearce served as an Army infantryman before moving into corporate operations management after finishing graduate school. He tried his hand at owning a business after that before eventually giving community college teaching a try.

“Being a college instructor is by far the most fun and satisfying of all the careers I have had,” Pearce says, adding that he enjoys teaching science, in particular, because he likes understanding “at least a little of how the world works” and making science-based decisions.

Currently in his fifth year at PCC, Pearce said his favorite part about teaching is “the final product—a student that is ready and capable for the next step in their career.” He said he draws from his personal experiences as a community college student to show patience and empathy to those he teaches and to let them know “we’re in this together.”

“My first experience with college was with a community college, and I am a first generation college graduate,” he says. “So, I come from a similar place. This allows me to understand many of the issues that face my students.”

Pearce will now serve as PCC’s nominee for the N.C. Community College System’s teaching excellence award in 2021.