David Wright, chair of the physics and astronomy department, is TCC’s Professor of the Year
Tidewater Community College will recognize five faculty and staff members from across the college with annual special awards on Aug. 17.
Selected by their peers, the honorees will receive their awards from President Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani at TCC’s 2017 Fall Convocation at the Roper Performing Arts Center.
Professor of the Year
Science has always been fun for David Wright. Forty-three years after starting at TCC, he still makes it a blast for the students he teaches.
Wright, chair of the physics and astronomy department, is TCC’s Professor of the Year, an award established by the Faculty Senate to recognize teaching excellence.
“I still enjoy opening students’ minds to what science is all about,” said Wright, who started teaching at the Virginia Beach Campus in 1974. “They have this vision that it’s a dull, hard subject. I try to get them to overcome their fears and convince them that it’s really cool.”
Wright engages his students by demonstrating the principles of science through activities that include his walking over broken glass or riding on a skateboard. Infrared cameras, slingshots and hovercrafts are among the tools he employs. He enjoys showing off the college’s observatory and planetarium to further connect classroom curriculum with real-world ideas.
He also performs physics demonstrations regularly at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg and in Tampa, Fla.
Wright’s philosophy grew out of his experience in a high school physics class, where the textbook was by an author named Dull and his teacher, though knowledgeable, was equally dry.
“I want students to see the connection between the classroom and the real world,” he said.
A Virginia Beach resident, Wright, 67, holds a doctorate in physics from Virginia Tech. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brigham Young University. He and wife Donna have been married 44 years and have four children and seven grandchildren.
Faculty Special Achievement
Megan Taliaferro started TCC’s certificate program in veterinary medical assisting in 2015. She wrote the entire curriculum and all the course work for the program, which received approval from the National Association of Veterinary Technicians of America during its first year.
Taliaferro secured all of the clinical sites for students to complete internships as part of the program, which graduated its first class in December 2016.
Currently, she is developing a veterinary technology associate degree program, which would become the first new program of its kind in Virginia in 37 years. Pending approval, the program will start at TCC in fall 2018.
After graduating with a bachelor’s in science from William & Mary, Taliaferro attended the Virginia Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, graduating in 2002. She worked as a veterinarian at Banfield Animal Hospital in Chesterfield and Nansemond Veterinary Clinic in Suffolk prior to becoming the inaugural head of TCC’s veterinary assisting program two years ago.
Taliaferro, 41, and her husband, Tom, have two daughters, Evelyn, 13, and Claire, 11. They reside in Suffolk with their tabby, Owen, and yellow Labrador Retriever, Luke.
“It’s been an honor to develop and launch this program for TCC and the Hampton Roads veterinary community,” she said. “The public expects state-of-the-art veterinary care for their pets, and this program provides skilled professionals who offer that care.”
Outstanding Adjunct Faculty
Vy Calhoun, a political science professor since 2006, is the outstanding adjunct professor.
“I love the ambiance of what’s a very dynamic campus,” said Calhoun, based at the Virginia Beach Campus. “I bring all my energy to teaching the students here.”
Calhoun, 65, conducts lively student discussions during his introductory classes, connecting the events of today with the past.
“This is the best time in the world to be teaching history and politics,” said Calhoun, who holds a master’s in teaching and bachelor’s in political science from Norfolk State University.
Calhoun regularly develops his students’ critical thinking skills by assigning research projects that require ample time in the library. He mentors each of them individually and always says, “I’ll be here until the last student is helped.”
The Chesapeake resident is father of two adult children, Brock and Megan, and has five grandchildren.
Administrative Employee of the Year
TCC alumnus John Morea has a passion for community college because it’s where he started. He began taking general studies courses while working for the college’s Facilities Department as a work-study student more than two decades ago. He moved to the audio-visual area of the Learning Resource Centers, which offer free tutoring services to students.
Morea, 48, associate vice president of learning technologies, was named Administrator of the Year by the Administrative Association.
“It’s humbling to be nominated by peers, but I consider this an honor for my entire staff, as they are super talented and committed to what we do,” Morea said.
He is responsible for classroom technology, academic video production, learning management system support and lecture capture across TCC’s four campuses and six regional centers.
A Virginia Beach resident, Morea is most proud of two recent accomplishments: the launch of the TCC Syllabus Builder for Faculty and Blackboard Student Orientation.
The syllabus builder is a new automated process that enables faculty to create, store, manage and publish course syllabi. Blackboard Student Orientation is a web-based tutorial for incoming students.
Morea holds a master’s in instructional technology from Virginia Tech and a bachelor’s in history from Old Dominion University. He and wife Melinda have one son, Caleb.
Classified Employee of the Year
Catherine “Karen” Grunow has been recognized as Classified Employee of the Year by the Classified Association.
“It’s important to go to work and feel like I’m part of a team and using my talents to help students succeed,” said Grunow, administrative assistant to the director of Institutional Effectiveness.
Grunow was instrumental in the extensive process of TCC once again earning its 10-year accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. She served as co-chair of the On-Site Visitation planning committee helping to organize meetings, meals and travel plans for those visiting the college.
Her service extends beyond her desk, as she volunteers with the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign, TCC Employee Giving, American Heart Association and Relay for Life. In addition, she hosted Danish exchange students for the past two years as part of the college’s program with Tradium College. Most recently, Grunow was appointed to TCC’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force.
Born in the Philippines, Grunow came to the United States in 1999. She first worked in New York City but came to Virginia for the lifestyle. Grunow joined TCC in 2006 and became a U.S. citizen in 2011.
Grunow and husband Gregg reside in Portsmouth.