VGCC receives Perkins career training grant

Vance-Granville Community College has been awarded a $181,631 grant for the current academic year under the federal Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006. These funds are being used to support students enrolled in VGCC’s workforce-oriented programs with student success coaches and the modernization and expansion of career-training equipment.

A portion of the funds support personnel at VGCC’s Student Success Centers, who serve as advisers to work with students in Business and Applied Technologies programs throughout their training — from enrollment to completion. The college also provides industry-advised faculty development to keep instructors up-to-date on the latest technologies through the grant funding.

“In conjunction with other grants and funding sources, the Perkins grant enhances our ability to educate, inspire and support students in technical fields, which are so vital to our college mission and to the economic health of our region,” said Dr. Stelfanie Williams, president of VGCC. “With help from this grant, our outstanding faculty and staff in career-oriented programs give students the practical training they need to succeed in the workforce.”

Perkins funds allow classes at all four VGCC campuses to have up-to-date career training equipment, including a manikin/wig dryer and, soon, a state-of-the-art facial imaging machine for Cosmetology students, drill presses for Welding trainees and 26 new webcams to continue to expand VGCC’s award-winning online course offerings.

Efforts to provide apprenticeships and to educate high school students about careers in advanced manufacturing also received a boost from Perkins funding.

The Perkins Act is the principal source of federal funding to states for the improvement of secondary and postsecondary career and technical education (CTE) programs. The North Carolina Community College System, which administers Perkins funds through competitive grants to the 58 community colleges in the state, also provides extensive training to faculty throughout the year and, publicly, on their newly launched teacher-training portal at

“Funding through Perkins and other workforce grants currently at work on VGCC campuses are positioning us well for the expected job growth in our region,” according to Kaine Riggan, VGCC’s grants coordinator. “Perkins funds are expected to shift more towards work-based learning, and we are stocked, staffed and ready for it.”

Riggan added that with a healthy number of local manufacturing jobs and a comfortable commute to the Research Triangle Park area, the four counties served by VGCC have been a favored investment for federal workforce development funds in recent years.

For more information on VGCC Business & Applied Technologies programs, contact Dean Angela Gardner-Ragland at [email protected] or (252) 738-3226.


VGCC President honors English department

The president of Vance-Granville Community College, Dr. Stelfanie Williams, recently recognized a group of faculty members for excellence by awarding the “Vanguard Cup” to the college’s English department.

The department became just the second recipient of the cup, an honor created by Dr. Williams to recognize “exceptional team performance toward the college mission, vision and strategic plan.”

In this case, the English department was particularly noted for developing a strategy to improve students’ writing skills, which would in turn help them be more successful in all of their college courses. “The English faculty developed a new course with dedicated labs in an attempt to improve student success,” Dr. Williams said.

“In the first semester of implementation, the students improved, and by the spring semester, the English 111A course held a 100% course success rate,” the president noted. “This means that students are better prepared for their fields and for university transfer. The faculty in the English department are to be commended for their innovative efforts to help VGCC students.”

David Wyche, chair of the VGCC English department, added, “I’m grateful for this recognition of the creativity and hard work that these English instructors contribute in countless ways every day.”

He said that two former colleagues also deserved credit. “The English 111A lab is the legacy of Biology instructor Button Brady’s vision. She saw a need and worked tirelessly to meet it before she retired,” Wyche said. “Former instructor Bridget Bell created English 111A and taught it until the birth of her second child, when she decided to devote more of her time to being a mom. I am indebted to both of them.”

The English department is a unit of the VGCC division of Arts and Sciences, which offers courses that transfer to four-year colleges and universities as well as general education for students in all of the college’s curriculum programs.


Home and Garden Show 02/14/17

Foundation creates scholarship for VGCC students in memory of Vance County native

The Watkins Family Foundation, created by the estate of Vance County native Edward Tarry Watkins, has donated $25,000 to the Vance-Granville Community College Endowment Fund to endow a scholarship to help underprivileged women.

The donation to VGCC is actually the first made by the newly-established, Houston, Texas-based foundation, according to Meghan Watkins Thompson, a granddaughter of Watkins.

“I recall that my grandfather would always tell me, ‘you educate the woman, you educate the family,’” Thompson said.

Among family members who remain in the Henderson area is Watkins’ nephew, George Rose Watkins, who has also endowed a scholarship through the VGCC Endowment Fund to help students and regularly plays in the college’s annual benefit golf tournament. His family’s company, Rose Oil, is also a longtime supporter of VGCC and other community organizations.

“The Watkins Family Foundation was created specifically for the education of underprivileged women,” Thompson added. “George and I appreciate Vance-Granville making Ed’s wish a reality.”

This new scholarship will be a “Presidential Scholar Award,” the college’s largest, most prestigious level of endowed scholarship.

“The Edward Tarry Watkins Memorial Presidential Scholar Award represents the lasting legacy of a generous man who never forgot his hometown and demonstrated the same dedication to service and philanthropy as other members of his extended family,” said Dr. Stelfanie Williams, the president of VGCC. “For generations to come, his vision will empower women to obtain the higher education they need to support themselves, their families and their communities.”

Ed Watkins, or “Bitz,” as he was called by his family, was born in Henderson in 1919, the son of William Thomas and Nannie Tarry Watkins. A 1940 Davidson College graduate, he joined the Army Air Corps after college and moved from North Carolina to Texas, serving as a bombardier flight instructor and also working with Minneapolis Honeywell to couple the Norden bombsight to the B-17 autopilot. Watkins retired from active duty in 1949 as a lieutenant colonel.

He and his wife, Hazel, moved to Houston in 1951, where he worked for Merrill Lynch before founding his own brokerage and investment advisory firm, Watkins & Company, Inc.

Active in his community and a supporter of many social and charitable causes, Watkins supported the Embassy Square Foundation in its development of the Perry Memorial Library in downtown Henderson. He and a friend also helped to establish a technical school for underprivileged children in Kun-Ming, China.

After passing away in July 2006 at the age of 87, he was buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Henderson.

Through the Endowment Fund, VGCC has awarded more than 8,800 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 about the Endowment Fund, call (252) 738-3409.


GCPS School Board Seeks Public Input on Superintendent Search

Press Release

Granville County Board of Education

February 7, 2017

The Granville County Board of Education has hired the North Carolina School Boards Association (NCSBA) to help facilitate its search for the next Superintendent of Granville County Public Schools (GCPS). To that end, the board is seeking direct input from interested members of the staff and community to help shape the search process and assist in defining the qualities and characteristics of the next GCPS superintendent.

The board invites parents and community members to participate in a short community survey that can be accessed and completed online by clicking the survey link on the main GCPS webpage: All surveys must be completed by Monday, March 27, 2017 with results to be compiled, summarized, and presented by NCSBA at the regular board meeting on April 3, 2017.

In addition, all employees of GCPS will have an opportunity to complete a separate online staff survey. Details about completing the employee version of the search survey will be communicated via school system email.

Citizens may also sign up to address the board during the public comment period at any of the upcoming regular board meetings, scheduled for 6:00 p.m. on March 6 and April 3. All meetings will be held in the main board room at the GCPS Administrative Offices, located at 101 Delacroix Street, Oxford, NC. Citizens must sign up to speak before the meeting begins and must otherwise comply with board policy.

In addition to input received from the surveys and public comment, written statements from any local groups or organizations may be submitted to Allison Schafer via mail at NCSBA, P.O. Box 97877, Raleigh, NC 27624, via email at [email protected], or via fax at 919-841-4020. These statements should be received no later than Monday, March 27, 2017.


Stan Winborne, Ed.S.
Director of High Schools
Director of Career & Technical Education Program
Public Information Officer
Granville County Schools

Luncheon to raise funds to support VGCC Culinary Arts students

The Culinary Arts program at Vance-Granville Community College is holding a luncheon to raise funds to help send students to competitions through the SkillsUSA organization. The Valentine’s-themed luncheon will be held on Thursday, Feb. 16, from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at the Masonic Home for Children on College Street in Oxford, where the Culinary program is based.

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased online at

“Our Valentine’s SkillsUSA Fundraising Luncheon will give students the opportunity to demonstrate both front and back of the house skills, while operating a refined, up-scale event that showcases their work, not only in the classroom, but the kitchen as well,” said Chef Teresa Davis, the VGCC Culinary Arts program head.

She said the menu is set to include, for starters, a choice of poached shrimp cocktail with lemon horseradish cocktail sauce, beef tartare on potato chips with a whole grain aioli, crab cakes, mini chicken and biscuits with Dijon maple glaze, or romaine salad with a creamy Parmesan dressing; for the main course, a choice of butter poached salmon with lemon and dill, Au Poivre steak, or brown butter gnocchi with spinach and parmesan; for sides, a choice of roasted asparagus bacon bundles, roasted Brussels sprouts with candied pecans and cranberries, cheesy scalloped potatoes, or creamy grits with roasted corn; and for dessert, a choice of assorted cupcakes, assorted chocolates or chocolate-dipped strawberries.

SkillsUSA is a partnership of secondary and post-secondary students, teachers and industry, working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA chapters help students who are preparing for careers in technical, skilled and service occupations excel. Among the benefits to VGCC students are opportunities to participate in competitions, which are designed by industry experts and showcase the nation’s top career and technical education students.

In 2016, Culinary Arts student Dustin Gregory of Oxford won a statewide competition and became the first student from VGCC to take part in a national SkillsUSA contest. Several local donors and the US Foods company made donations to help sponsor his trip to the national conference.

For more information about the Culinary Arts program, contact Chef Teresa Davis at [email protected] or (919) 690-0312.


Rusty Pace honored for leadership at VGCC

Rusty Pace, program head for Welding Technology at Vance-Granville Community College, was recently honored with the President’s Leadership Award from Dr. Stelfanie Williams, the president of the college.

Pace’s honor is one of three Glen Raven Excellence in Teaching and Leadership Awards presented to VGCC employees during each academic year. The others, the Faculty Member of the Year and Staff Member of the Year awards, are presented in the fall semester. Glen Raven, Inc., the manufacturer with a site in Norlina, is a longtime VGCC partner. The company’s support includes sponsoring the annual stipends to recognize outstanding VGCC instructors and staff members, and endowing many scholarships for students.

Dr. Williams praised Pace as an innovative faculty leader. “Under Rusty’s leadership, the Welding program, which was already well-known for excellence, has increased its retention rate while also expanding from a one-year diploma to an associate degree program,” the president said. “He has worked hand-in-hand with our Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant department staff to grow his program, meeting the needs of both our students and our local employers.”

Williams also noted that Pace has demonstrated a commitment to professional development, by traveling as far away as Ohio for welding technology training, by attending a conference related to the TAACCCT grant in Florida and by taking courses at the college in online education and computer skills.

A Louisburg resident and native of Franklinton, Pace enrolled at VGCC fresh out of Franklinton High School. He graduated from VGCC with a diploma in Welding in 1978 and quickly became certified through the Pittsburgh Testing Laboratory. Pace worked as a welder for many years in Wake Forest and Franklin County, eventually opening his own business. He later completed an associate degree in Welding at Nash Community College.

Pace returned to teach Welding at VGCC on a part-time basis in 1998 and became a full-time instructor in 2004. Pace was promoted to the role of program head in 2007. At the college, he has served on the Professional Advisory Committee, the Judicial Committee and the Student Success Committee, and completed the VGCC Leadership Institute in 2006.


VGCC surpasses $6 million in grant funding with new initiative

Vance-Granville Community College’s Grants Office has now surpassed $6 million in funding to support students, the VGCC Board of Trustees was informed on Monday night, Jan. 23, at its regular bimonthly meeting on Main Campus.

In its brief four-year history, the Grants Office has secured 37 grants totaling $6,053,883, according to Dr. Ken Lewis, Vance-Granville’s vice president of institutional research and technology.

Among the largest grants, $1,757,299 from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant Program is the single largest competitive grant award received in the history of the college. TAACCCT supports the development of innovative training programs for advanced manufacturing careers. The college started its Mechatronics program and expanded its Welding program through the grant.

The Advanced Manufacturing Skills Training Alliance (AMSTA) with the four public school systems in the college’s coverage area was created with a $1.2 million grant from the North Carolina Education and Workforce Innovation Fund. In addition, $460,000 has been awarded to the Training Alliance by the Golden LEAF Foundation, along with grants of $245,923 and $237,757 from the Duke Energy Foundation to purchase state-of-the-art equipment.

And, most recently, VGCC was awarded nearly $1 million from the U.S. Department of Labor to launch the North Carolina TechHire Program to train students in information technology and advanced manufacturing programs.


In addition to the TechHire grant, Dr. Lewis said the most recent awards include:

  • A pair of Male Mentoring Success Initiative grants over two years, totaling $34,000, to help students stay in school and on track to graduate or transfer to a four-year university;
  • A Wake Electric grant of $3,000 to fund classroom technology;
  • An NC Works Career Coach grant of $17,000 in partnership with the Granville and Warren County school systems to promote college attendance and Career & College Promise (CCP) classes in the high schools;
  • A Perkins grant, $181,000, supporting the college’s Business and Applied Technologies and Health Sciences curriculum programs;
  • A Library Services and Technology Act planning grant of $23,000 for space utilization upgrades;
  • A Cannon Foundation grant of $150,000 to complete renovation of Main Campus Building 10;
  • A National Summer Transportation Institute grant from the Federal Highway Administration, $37,000, allowing high school students in Warren County to learn more about career opportunities in transportation-related industries; and
  • A Taste of Industry grant of $10,000 from the North Carolina Community College System to support AMSTA in conjunction with Granville County Schools.


The grants update was included in the report of the Curriculum Committee, chaired by Barbara Cates Harris. In the committee’s reports, Dr. Angela Ballentine, the college’s vice president of academic affairs, also updated the board on the annual Continuing Education and Basic Skills visitation report.

Building Improvements

The board approved recommendations of the Building Committee, chaired by Trustee Donald Seifert, ranking in priority order the firms to design and oversee exterior masonry repairs and restoration as well as HVAC replacements and fire alarm system installations. Both Main Campus projects will be funded by the Connect NC bonds approved by state voters in March 2016.

At an estimated cost of $1 million, the college plans to restore, structurally repair and waterproof building masonry roof lines, walls and building bridges that have deteriorated over time because of the penetration of water/moisture into and through the building structures. REI Engineers of Raleigh was chosen as the highest ranked firm for the masonry project.

The primary focus of the HVAC/fire alarm project, estimated to cost $4.1 million, is to replace existing deteriorated heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems with new systems that provide greater stability, control and energy efficiency, and to replace existing fire alarm systems with new addressable systems that meet state code compliance. Engineered Designs, Inc., of Cary was selected as the highest ranked firm for the project.

VGCC is receiving $7.6 million from the $2 billion Connect NC Public Improvement Bond package. Funds may be used for the repair and renovation of facilities to meet the educational needs of students and/or the construction of new facilities to expand programs and services.

Other Action

In other action:

  • The board approved Mid-Year Amendments to the 2016-2017 Budget. The adjustments were necessary to account for $1,664,312 in carryover funds from the previous year and grant funding.
  • Trustee Sara Wester, chair of the Personnel Committee, reported on new employees and resignations.
  • Trustee Opie Frazier, chair of the Investment Committee, reported a gain on the college’s investments now being managed by First Citizens Wealth Management.
  • Dr. Stelfanie Williams, VGCC’s president, updated the trustees on activities since the board last met in November. She also announced the dates of upcoming events: a Valentine’s Day Luncheon sponsored by the college’s Culinary Arts program, Feb. 16; a North Carolina Association of Community College Trustees Law and Legislative Seminar in Raleigh, March 29-31; the fifth annual Dinner Theater, April 27-28, in the Civic Center on Main Campus; the annual VGCC Endowment Fund Golf Tournament, May 2, at the Henderson Country Club; and Commencement, May 12, at the gazebo on Main Campus.

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees is set for Monday, March 20, on the Main Campus.

— END —

Granville Superintendent Howard Announces Retirement

Granville Superintendent Howard Announces Retirement

At the regularly scheduled January Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Dr. Dorwin L. Howard, Sr. informed Board members that he had made the decision to retire from employment with the State of North Carolina as Superintendent of Granville County Public Schools effective July 1, 2017.

Dr. Houlihan, Chairman of the Board of Education, offered his reaction to the news, “Speaking on behalf of the Board of Education, we were certainly saddened to hear about this announcement, but at the same time we congratulate him on the remarkable 37-year career he has had serving the students of Granville County Public Schools and we wish him and his family the very best in the future.”

Dr. Howard began his career in public education when he took his first job as an Agriculture Teacher at JF Webb High School in 1980.  Since then, he has served as a vice-principal, principal, Director of Secondary and Career and Technical Education, Assistant Superintendent of Operations, and as Superintendent.  All but six months of his career in public education has been spent serving the students of Granville County.

Dr. Howard shared the news with staff members across the district, offering  some thoughts about this important announcement, “I am appreciative of the opportunities which Granville County Public Schools has given me since I began teaching.  As I reflect on my experiences, I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to work with others throughout my career.  Each and every one of the employees has been, and I am sure will continue to be, instrumental in creating the type of school environment which fosters learning at the highest levels.”

Dr. Howard, a native of Granville County, and a graduate of JF Webb High School, attended NC A&T for his undergraduate degree, and NC State University for his master’s and doctoral degrees in Educational Administration.  He will have completed his third year serving as Superintendent upon retirement.

Dr. Howard concluded his remarks to staff by saying, “I trust that during my remaining five months with you as Superintendent, we all will continue to work together, giving our best for the good of all students throughout the district.  I pray that the future of the students of Granville County Public Schools will be bright.”

(Granville County Schools Press Release and Picture)

Vance-Granville Community Band to present free holiday concert on December 5th

The Vance-Granville Community Band will perform traditional Christmas fare as well as light classical and contemporary favorites during its ninth annual holiday concert on Monday, Dec. 5, at 7:30 p.m. at McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center in Henderson.

This will be the first time that the Community Band has held a concert at the 1,000-seat venue, which opened earlier this year and is located at 201 Breckenridge Street in downtown Henderson. Admission is free of charge.

The band has prepared a program that includes seasonal music like “Wishing You a Merry Christmas,” a medley of Christmas carols arranged by William E. Rhoads; “Sleigh Ride” by Leroy Anderson; “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” a medley featuring “Welcome Christmas” and “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch”; and “The Carollers March” by R.E. Holz, arranged by band member Bob Salzmann. Another piece, “The Night Before Christmas,” features a dramatic reading of Clement Moore’s poem by the band’s Claire Ramsey, with musical accompaniment.

The band is also set to play “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky; the overture from “Abduction from the Seraglio” by Mozart; a symphonic suite of music from the sci-fi franchise “Star Trek” to commemorate its 50th anniversary by Michael Giacchino, Alexander Courage and Gene Roddenberry; “Hallelujah” (featured in the movie “Shrek”) by Leonard Cohen; and “Riders for the Flag,” a march by John Philip Sousa.

The concert will also feature the “Old Vanguard Woodwind Quartet” playing additional selections of holiday music. The quartet comprises a bassoon, a soprano saxophone, an alto saxophone and a tenor saxophone.

Brian Miller, who retired as band director at Louisburg High School and now teaches for VGCC and Crosscreek Charter School, is the band’s primary conductor. Tracie Winstead, who plays bassoon in the band, is the associate conductor.

The Community Band, which is sponsored by the VGCC Division of Arts and Sciences, includes people of all ages, from all walks of life, and from throughout the region. No auditions are required. Rehearsals are held on Monday evenings from 7-9 p.m. at the Vance-Granville Community College Civic Center, on the Main Campus in Henderson, at Exit 209 on Interstate 85 (Poplar Creek Road). For more information, contact Brian Miller at (919) 496-5877 or at [email protected] or Betsy Henderson at [email protected].