Tidewater Community College recognized four faculty and staff members from across the college with annual special awards on Aug. 20.
Selected by their peers, the honorees received their awards at TCC’s 2020 Fall Convocation, which was held virtually this year due to COVID-19.
Professor of the Year
David Wright, 69, is the Professor of the Year as chosen by the Faculty Senate. That honor is the icing on what is, no doubt, the most storied year of his 47 years at the college. He became TCC’s first viral professor thanks to a Twitter post from one of his students last December. Wright’s innovative, hands-on teaching style to make science fun and relatable includes experiments that range from walking on a bed of nails to jumping up and down on a pogo stick to using a slingshot. He appeared on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” in January and participated in interviews with NBC News, the BBC, People Magazine and NPR Education.
Wright, who started at the Virginia Beach Campus the same year it opened, 1973, and retired in 2020 as physics chair, was named Professor Emeritus in May. He was also TCC’s Professor of the Year in 2017. Wright completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Brigham Young University and his doctorate at Virginia Tech.
“I really love teaching physics and astronomy,” he said. “My goal has always been to get students excited about science. A long time ago, I decided that if I was not having any fun teaching my classes, my students would not have any fun being there. I have really been blessed to be here at TCC. We have a lot of great instructors, a very supportive administration and awesome students.”
Faculty Special Achievement
Sean LaCroix, assistant professor of economics, was honored by the Faculty Senate with the Faculty Special Achievement award for his innovative teaching and dedication to student development.
LaCroix, 51, developed an innovative YouTube video series, “Central Point,” that covers key topics in both micro and macroeconomics. The series includes more than 30 short videos that have been incorporated in all of his classes.
“I’m humbled and honored by this award because I’m surrounded by very competent, high-quality faculty who are involved and work hard to serve our students,” LaCroix said.
“It’s about to be our time again,” he added. “Community colleges are really important when the economy struggles, and I’m happy to be in a place that’s part of the solution.”
The Virginia Beach resident co-wrote (along with Paul English) “Student and Faculty Perceptions of Effective Teaching,” which was published in the Community College Enterprise. The 15-page article, which took more than a year to write, focuses on key areas of learning for students.
LaCroix brings real-world subjects front and center in his classes. “Last semester we discussed everything from raising the minimum wage to passing on the national debt to our children,” he said. “Connecting course concepts with the headlines and news trends helps illustrate what might otherwise be boring academic concepts.”
LaCroix holds a bachelor’s in business management from North Carolina State University and a master’s in economics from UNC Charlotte.
Support Staff Employee of the Year
Stephen Cartwright was recognized by the college’s Classified Association for his solutions-based approach that grows the college’s vision in multiple areas.
The digital solutions manager is the architect and chief expert in TCC’s Salesforce CRM system, which allows the college to dynamically communicate with prospective students at various stages of their academic journey. His colleagues regard him as detail-oriented, approachable and nimble enough to handle last-minute requests without sacrificing quality.
“I’ve always enjoyed problem-solving, and I love bringing that energy to my role at TCC,” he said. “It helps to be surrounded by such a dedicated team.”
The Norfolk native and Old Dominion University graduate, who joined TCC in 2014, was instrumental in the redesign of the college website. He has since grown his skill set to launch various initiatives and continues to find ways to innovate and improve existing processes. Cartwright, 31, is working toward becoming a Salesforce Certified Developer.
Wage Employee of the Year
TCC alumna Landes Canady-Remson, the administrative assistant in the Norfolk Campus advising office, is the Wage Employee of the Year. Canady-Remson, 33, had two unsuccessful attempts at college before coming to TCC.
“TCC gave me a second chance, so I see my job as my chance to pay it forward,” she said. “I owe so much to the professors and staff who invested in me.”
Canady-Remson is the first face students see when entering the advising suite.
“Landes’ passion for TCC and its mission burns bright,” said Meredith Pollard, lead counselor on Norfolk Campus. “She welcomes students and provides critical information and guidance.”
The Newport News resident earned her Associate of Science in Social Sciences with a 3.8 GPA. She is at work on her bachelor’s in human services at Old Dominion.
Canady-Remson said, “When I see someone upset and going through it, that’s when the job is most rewarding. It’s my honor to step in and help provide solutions.”