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WILKESBORO — Hardin Kennedy, chair of Transportation Technologies at Wilkes Community College, has been named as the 2020 Excellence in Teaching Award recipient by the NC State Board of Community Colleges.

This is the first time a WCC instructor has received this award since it was established by the State Board of Community Colleges in 1985.

The Excellence in Teaching Award, sponsored by R.J. Reynolds, provides statewide recognition of faculty members who exemplify the highest quality and standards of instruction throughout the NC Community College System, which is the third-largest community college system in the nation.

Kennedy was nominated for this award as a result of his devotion, leadership, professional attitude, and desire for teaching. He is genuinely concerned and focused on creating a teaching and learning environment that fosters student success and satisfaction, critical to realizing the vision and mission of the college. He is highly respected by his students and colleagues and continually demonstrates that he cares and has concern for his students, both within and beyond the classroom.

WCC President Jeff Cox stated, “Hardin is the epitome of what a community college instructor should be. He is truly a remarkable individual who exemplifies excellence in teaching and a passionate commitment to student success.”

Kennedy first came to WCC as an instructor in 1996 and has served as the chairman of Transportation Technologies since 2008.

His learning and life philosophy are reflected in his teaching and working with local business and industry to ensure students are ready to enter the workforce with the skill set needed to be successful, according to WCC officials. He is an example of those talented instructors who can earn the trust, respect, and friendship of students, and yet maintain the integrity of a teacher and leader. In his classroom, students become engaged, excited, and self-motivated. Experientially, his successful work speaks to the breadth and quality of his leadership skills and abilities.

In 2005, Kennedy established a WCC chapter of SkillsUSA, a national association serving high school, college and middle school students who are preparing for careers in trade, technical and skilled service occupations through collaborative and competitive events.

Due to Kennedy’s leadership, Wilkes now has the largest postsecondary SkillsUSA group in N.C. with over 350 students and over 200 in the secondary-level membership, college officials said.

WCC students regularly win medals at state and national competitions.

As WCC’s facilitator for the statewide Guided Pathways initiative beginning in 2018, Kennedy has guided WCC through a comprehensive review of academic programs. He helped the faculty identify and change program requirements that may have been limiting students’ access to and success in their college education.

“We are tremendously proud of Hardin’s well-earned recognition,” said Cox, “and our objective over the coming years is to foster this same high standard of teaching and learning across our entire faculty – to the benefit of every student who enrolls with WCC. We are thankful for models like Hardin who show us what excellence can look like.”

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