VGCC Introduces Online Career Coach Program for Students

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College recently introduced a new web-based service that will help students explore careers and make plans for their future.

Through the interactive “Career Coach” program, students can:

  • take a career assessment and get suggestions for possible career goals, based on their interests;
  • access the latest information about jobs and salaries in the region for various career fields; and
  • learn about particular VGCC education and training programs that lead to the careers they want.

By linking jobs to education, current or future students can see the potential “return on investment” of community college programs. They can even see a list of employers in the region who have posted jobs for a particular type of career within the last year.

“Not only current students, but also people who are thinking about becoming students, can use the site to learn more about various career options and the VGCC programs that prepare them for those careers,” said VGCC Director of Career Services Linda Fletcher. “Users can create accounts which allow them to save the results of their assessments and their favorite careers or programs of study. We think this will help members of our community make well-informed career decisions and get training for skills that are in demand by employers.”

Other special features of Career Coach include a tool that allows veterans of the armed services to find civilian careers that are related to their military occupations and a tool that helps users create a professional resume.

Career Coach is linked from the home page and can be accessed directly at

VGCC Experiences Enrollment Growth

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College received welcome news as it celebrated its 50th anniversary recently: an increase in enrollment over the same time last year. As of the beginning of the fall semester in August, VGCC had 3,073 students enrolled in curriculum programs. That represented a 3.7% increase compared to the beginning of the fall 2018 semester when enrollment stood at 2,963.

VGCC Board of Trustees Chair Danny Wright and President Rachel Desmarais, Ph.D. cut the cake at VGCC’s 50th celebration. (VGCC photo)

A significant source of the increase was enrollment by high school students in college programs, either through Early College High Schools or other Career & College Promise pathways. There were 15% more of those students enrolled than there were at the beginning of fall 2018.

“We are pleased that an increasing number of students are participating in our high-quality education and training programs, which are preparing them to achieve their career goals,” said Dr. Rachel Desmarais, president of VGCC. “For 50 years, Vance-Granville Community College has been providing opportunities for education and training, with the strong support of the community. Thanks to that support, we continue to serve as an accessible, innovative, student-centered higher education partner for our region.”

Established in 1969, VGCC offers more than 40 curriculum programs, in which students work toward certificates, diplomas and degrees.

Area residents and businesses can also take advantage of a variety of Continuing Education opportunities, as well as the High School Equivalency and Adult High School Diploma programs.

High school students can also get a step ahead by starting their college education early with VGCC courses.

The college has four campuses – one each in Vance, Granville, Franklin and Warren counties – and offers online programs, as well.

For more information, visit

Oxford Prep. Student Iannuzzi Named National Merit Scholarship Semifinalist

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-Information courtesy Oxford Preparatory School

Oxford Preparatory Upper School Director Victoria Bradsher proudly announces that senior Emily Iannuzzi is one of less than 400 North Carolina students to be named a semifinalist in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Competition.

Emily, daughter of Chris and Marisol Iannuzzi, has been named a semifinalist for the Class of 2020. Emily has attended Oxford Preparatory School since 2014 when she enrolled as an 8th grader. Currently a senior, Emily has pursued a highly rigorous course of study including accruing more than 24 college credit hours through AP exams and CCP courses.

She is also a talented artist, chef and key member of the OPS Equestrian team. Emily loves her horses and has been the recipient of a number of awards at the state and national level.

Emily Iannuzzi is pictured center with her parents, OPS Director Bradsher and OPS Executive Director Andrew Swanner. (OPS photo)

Approximately 1.6 million juniors around the United States took the Preliminary SAT/ National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT) last year. Fewer than 400 students were named semifinalists in North Carolina. These semifinalists represent the highest-scoring entrants in the state.

The number of semifinalists in a state is proportional to the state’s percentage of the national total of graduating seniors. The semifinalists now have the opportunity to compete for 7,500 National Merit Scholarships worth more than $31 million that will be offered next spring.

The National Merit® Scholarship Program is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. High school students enter the National Merit Program by taking the PSAT/NMSQT and by meeting published program entry and participation requirements.

To become a finalist, the semifinalist and his or her school must submit a detailed application in which they provide information about the semifinalist’s academic record, participation in school and community activities, demonstrated leadership abilities, employment and honors and awards received.

A semifinalist must have an outstanding academic record throughout high school, be endorsed by and recommended by a school official, write an essay and earn qualifying SAT scores.

Scholarship Fund Established at VGCC in Memory of Local Teacher

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Friends and colleagues of the late Robert C. Pirie, Jr., have established a scholarship fund in his memory at Vance-Granville Community College.

Pirie passed away in May at the age of 75. A Vance County native, he was a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, including service in Vietnam. He retired from the Vance County school system after teaching for more than 30 years, primarily at Zeb Vance Elementary School.

From left, Mike Bullard, Billy Horner, Wanda Bullard and VGCC Endowment Director Eddie Ferguson meet to discuss plans for the scholarship in memory of Robert Pirie. (VGCC photo)

Retired educators Michael and Wanda Bullard, along with Pirie’s best friend, Billy Horner, and his wife, Patricia Horner, helped set up the scholarship at VGCC. “I was a student of Mr. Pirie’s during his first year of teaching and then had the honor of teaching with him for 12 years,” Wanda Bullard said. “He encouraged me to become a teacher and then became my mentor. We became very close and I thought of him as a second father. I am one of many that he encouraged and supported.”

Bullard noted that Pirie received several awards for his math teaching abilities. He also coached the Zeb Vance Eagles Pee Wee football team for many years and was well-respected in the school system and the community. She recalled that Pirie and Horner shared a love of college sports, attending numerous Duke University home football games and ACC basketball tournaments together.

When Pirie struggled with health issues in his later years, Bullard and Horner helped take care of him. “He was like family to both of us,” Bullard said. “We wanted to start the scholarship in his name as a way to continue his legacy of encouragement and support of students being the best they can be.”

“We are touched that those who knew and worked with Mr. Pirie, those he taught and those he inspired, have been generous and thoughtful enough to honor his memory through a scholarship,” said VGCC Endowment Director Eddie Ferguson. “When fully endowed, this new scholarship will help VGCC students continue their education, and that’s a perfect way to pay tribute to an outstanding educator.”

Through the Endowment Fund, VGCC has awarded more than 9,400 scholarships to students since 1982. Scholarships have been endowed by numerous individuals, industries, businesses, civic groups, churches and the college’s faculty and staff.

Tax-deductible donations to the VGCC Endowment Fund have often been used to honor or remember a person, group, business or industry with a lasting gift to education.

For more information or to make a contribution to help fully endow this scholarship, call Kay Currin at (252) 738-3409.

Contributions to the scholarship fund can be mailed to the Vance-Granville Community College Endowment Fund, at P.O. Box 917, Henderson, NC 27536.

Majority of Granville Co. Public Schools Exceeded or Met Growth

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-Press Release, Granville County Public Schools

The NC Department of Public Instruction released the standardized test scores for the 2018-19 school year, and the results show some positive trends for the district. The majority of schools either exceeded or met growth, according to state analysis.

Growth measures the overall academic progress a student makes during the course of the entire year, compared to their counterparts across the state. Proficiency measures whether or not a student achieves a particular score, typically designated as level III or above on most tests.

Using a combination of the growth measure (20%) and percentage of students who are proficient (80%), the state assigns a school letter grade. Granville Early College High School earned an A. Wilton Elementary and Mt. Energy Elementary both earned a B, and seven other schools earned a C.

Eight schools earned a D, with four of those schools only two points away from earning a C. Northern Granville Middle School earned an F, but was one point away from earning a letter grade of a D.

Superintendent McLean offered her perspective on the outcomes, stating, “While our growth measures continue to remain strong, we did see some slippage in the overall letter grades of our schools. Since this past June, we have been using the raw data to make adjustments in our approach, including making changes in school leadership, reallocating curricular resources, and renewing our focus on literacy.At our lowest performing schools, we have already made significant changes to address areas of concern, which we are confident will yield positive results.”

Dr. Brenda Williamson takes on the newly merged and energized Northern Granville Middle School as the principal for the 2019-2020 school year. JF Webb School of Health and Life Sciences also prepares for its merger in 2020 with JF Webb High School under new leadership. JF Webb High School improved its letter grade from a D to a C this past year under Principal Amy Rice’s leadership.

A variety of external factors may have also contributed to the variance in test scores. This past year, the NCDPI administered newly designed math assessments at all grade levels, which resulted in statewide standard-setting, causing scores to be re-calibrated on a new scale. There were also no retests for any math tests, which did not afford some students a second chance to improve their score.

In addition, this was the first year that all students took all standardized tests online using their laptop computers as recommended by NCDPI. In the past, most tests have been administered using paper and pencil test booklets and answer sheets.

A deeper analysis of results by subject area, grade level and subgroup of students show some areas of marked improvement.  For example, there was a double-digit increase in 8th grade math proficiency of 25 percentage points. In addition, 3rd grade reading proficiency increased by almost 8 percentage points for all students across the district. Finally, all but one high school improved their graduation rate, with JFW HLS boasting a 100% and Granville Early College at a 98% graduation rate for the year.

Dr. McLean further explained, “While important, these test scores are but one measure of student success. Our teachers work very hard to provide a safe environment where our students are prepared academically, socially and emotionally for what lies beyond graduation. This is our number one goal. We love our students, and together, our teachers, support staff and administrators will stay on the move!”

Granville Board of Education to Hold September Meeting

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-Press Release, Granville County Public Schools

The Granville County Board of Education will meet for a regular board meeting on Monday, September 9, 2019, 6 p.m. at the Granville County Public Schools Central Office, 101 Delacroix Street, Oxford, North Carolina.

The Board will also meet in a Closed Session with the Board’s attorney in accordance with N.C. General Statute 143.318.11 (a)(6), 143-318.11 (a)(3), 143.318.11 (a)(5) and Section 115C-321 on this evening.

To view the agenda for this meeting, please click here.

VGCC Holds Convocation to Start New Academic Year

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Vance-Granville Community College recently held its annual fall convocation to bring faculty and staff together for a kick-off to the new academic year.

Much of the event focused on a discussion of student success. Special guests for the convocation were representatives of “Achieving the Dream” (ATD), a national education reform organization designed to assist community colleges with improving student success. VGCC joined the ATD network of colleges in 2018.

ATD Leadership Coach Dr. Joanne Bashford and ATD Data Coach Dr. Linda Hagedorn presented information about the college’s progress in moving the needle on student success in the past six months.

VGCC Director of Planning & Research Julie Hicks and English faculty member Frankie Frink provided their colleagues with updates on key data points and forms of support to address the needs of students who are food insecure, respectively.

VGCC’s participation in Achieving the Dream and the leadership of Dr. Rachel Desmarais, who became college president earlier this year, have caused the college to place a greater emphasis on data related to teaching and learning, and equitable student outcomes for all.

Approximately 44 VGCC faculty and staff members serve on one of four ATD teams: the Core, Data, Communications, and Strategies teams. These teams will continue to work collaboratively throughout the fall semester to develop an Action Plan derived from the feedback and planning that took place during the fall convocation. This ATD Action Plan will be connected to the VGCC Strategic Plan.

“Convocation provided an opportunity for all new and returning faculty to learn more about the latest with ATD and provide feedback,” said Dr. Levy Brown, the college’s vice president of Learning, Student Engagement & Success. “We are committed to equitable student outcomes, which ultimately impact student success.”

The event also included the opportunity to recognize VGCC employees who have recently hit milestones by completing five, 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 years of service.

“As we mark the 50th anniversary of Vance-Granville Community College’s service to the community, we celebrate the dedicated people who have made the college a wonderful place to work and learn, while we also look ahead to the future through the Achieving the Dream program,” said Dr. Desmarais.

Wilton Elementary’s Sheila Atkins Named GCPS Principal of the Year

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-Press Release, Granville County Public Schools

On Wednesday, August 21, Dr. Alisa McLean and district staff visited Wilton Elementary School for a surprise announcement naming Principal Sheila Atkins the 2019-2020 GCPS Principal of the Year.

Mrs. Atkins, who was chosen by her principal peers for the honor, was called to an unscheduled faculty meeting and greeted by cheers, balloons, flowers, cake, and of course, a sparkling tiara to celebrate the occasion.

On August 21, Dr. Alisa McLean (right) and district staff visited Wilton Elementary School for a surprise announcement naming Principal Sheila Atkins (left) the 2019-2020 GCPS Principal of the Year. (Photo courtesy GCPS)

Superintendent McLean placed the tiara on Mrs. Atkins’ head before commenting to the cheering school staff, “I am so proud to announce this year’s winner to you, the faculty of this wonderful school. Mrs. Atkins is so deserving of this special honor, but I want you to know that it also reflects on the amazing job all of the staff at this school do every day for our students.  Wilton Elementary School is truly on the move!”

Mrs. Atkins enters her 23rd year as an educator, all of which she has served in Granville County Public Schools. She began her career as a Teacher Assistant and Bus Driver, then worked as an Elementary Teacher, and Assistant Principal. She has served as a Principal for the past six years, serving at both Wilton Elementary and Joe Toler Oak Hill Elementary School.  Mrs. Atkins earned her undergraduate degrees from NCCU and ECU, and her graduate degree from NC State University.

At today’s surprise announcement, Mrs. Atkins fought back tears of joy as she explained to her staff, “I am so blessed to receive this honor, but you know I could not do anything without all of you. Together we are a team, and the most important thing in our work is the children! We are all in this together.”

The entire faculty cheered and celebrated the occasion with pride, with many also noting that for the first time in recent memory, both the Teacher of the Year (Jade Currin) and Principal of the Year are from the same school. Both esteemed educators will go on to compete at the regional and state level to represent their respective professions.

Wilton Elementary School is a “School of Choice,” which means it is open for enrollment for all students who reside in Granville County. The school was recently recognized for honors at the state level by being named a “Lighthouse” school – a distinction earned by less than 15% of schools in the country for its student leadership program.

Faculty and staff from Wilton Elementary School celebrate the announcement of Principal Sheila Atkins as the 2019-2020 GCPS Principal of the Year. (Photo courtesy GCPS)

VGCC’s 50th Anniversary Celebration to Include Food Truck Rodeo, Live Music

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Vance-Granville Community College invites the public to join administrators, faculty, students and staff in a celebratory event, sponsored by Duke Energy, in honor of the college’s “50 Years of Excellence Since 1969.”

This “golden” anniversary celebration will include a food truck rodeo on Wednesday, September 4, 2019, from 4:30 until 7:30 p.m. at the gazebo of the Main Campus in Henderson (200 Community College Road).

The band “Liquid Pleasure” will also be entertaining the crowd with live music.

*Please note that alcoholic beverages and drugs are strictly prohibited at VGCC. 

VGCC Grad Pursues NCSU Degree Through New Partnership  

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-Press Release, Vance-Granville Community College

Ethan Cole starts his first semester as a full-time student at North Carolina State University on August 21, making history as a pioneer in a partnership between NCSU and his former school, Vance-Granville Community College.

Cole, who hails from Kittrell, enrolled at VGCC after graduating from Franklin Academy High School in 2017. The next year, VGCC joined N.C. State’s Community College Collaboration, or “C3,” program, and Cole was among the first to sign up. Essentially, that meant he would apply for dual-enrollment and then be guaranteed admission to NCSU to earn a baccalaureate degree, once he had completed an associate degree at VGCC while maintaining good grades.

Ethan Cole (pictured here) starts his first semester as a full-time student at North Carolina State University on August 21, making history as a pioneer in a partnership between NCSU and his former school, Vance-Granville Community College. (VGCC photo)

For Cole, it was an ideal way to pursue a longtime dream. “I already knew I wanted to go to N.C. State when I first enrolled at Vance-Granville,” he said. “I’ve had that goal for many years. My dad went there, we’re Wolfpack fans in my family, and I knew it was a good school for things like business and engineering.”

The new C3 program presented Cole with a chance to get “a foot in the door to the university,” he said. “Not a whole lot of people knew about it at the time, but it seemed like a good avenue to go down, so I went for it.”

Cole completed what he recalled as a straightforward NCSU application process, was accepted, and met with Martha Harmening, the C3 director from the university, for advising. She came to the VGCC campus, so Cole did not even have to drive to Raleigh.

“She helped me to know the right classes for my major,” Cole said. “I told her that, initially, I had been thinking I would study business administration after transferring from VGCC to N.C. State, but then I started thinking about moving to engineering, particularly mechanical engineering. She explained the criteria and the classes I needed to be accepted specifically into the engineering program.”

By enrolling in C3, Cole was technically an NCSU student, even though he was taking VGCC classes. Getting into the competitive engineering program was never guaranteed, however.

After graduating from Vance-Granville with an Associate in Science earlier this year, Cole took a single chemistry class at another community college in order to become eligible for his chosen major. “I’ve now been accepted into the engineering program,” he said. “I am particularly interested in engineering on the automotive side, developing newer, more efficient vehicles.”

With his VGCC credits in hand, Cole is scheduled to graduate from the university in 2022, for a total of five years in higher education.

He feels that the community college has prepared him well for the next level. “One of the best things VGCC has is the atmosphere of being around other students who are focused and trying to do their best, and that keeps you focused, too,” Cole reflected. “Also, the teachers are down to earth and give extra time and attention to their students.”

Cole excelled as a student, earning Presidential Scholar Award-level endowed academic scholarships, making the Dean’s List and working as a peer tutor at the VGCC Academic Skills Center.

Now, he is looking forward to new experiences at N.C. State, continuing to learn and preparing to start a career.

“The C3 program helps students to transfer and to have a guaranteed spot at N.C. State,” Cole said. “I would recommend it to people who want to get a four-year degree, especially if they are still searching for what they want to major in because it gives you some security and another option.”

Students who may apply for C3 include graduating high school seniors as well as current community college students who have completed less than 30 credit hours of college work.

For more information, contact VGCC’s Admissions Office at (252) 738-3234 or click here for additional details on the C3 program.