Isothermal’s top teaching award goes to Burris

SPINDALE – Jeremy Burris, a developmental English instructor at Isothermal Community College, earned the institution’s highest teaching honor this week.

The 2017 Robert Wendell Eaves Distinguished Teaching Award was presented to Burris by Walter Dalton, Isothermal’s president, at the annual commencement exercises Monday evening.

Burris has just completed his seventh year at Isothermal. He was nominated by eight of his students.

One student says this Burris’s “approachable and friendly manner” makes it easy for a student to open up to the learning experience. This particular student claims to be particularly shy and introverted, so the instructor’s ability to relate to all types of personalities is a “really big deal.”

Indeed, during his interview with the selection committee, the instructor hinted at the importance he places on making the connection with students. He said one of the aphorisms that had always stuck with him was, “A student doesn’t care what you know until they know how much you care.”

Burris has spent many hours working to better Isothermal though his service to organizations like TALC – the Team for the Advancement of the Learning College – and PTK. He’s also been instrumental in the creation of the monthly Writing Center newsletter and the Book Club.

Burris is a product of the North Carolina Community College System with an Associate of Arts degree from Tri-County Community College. He earned a bachelor’s from Western Carolina and a master’s from East Carolina. Now, he’s working on another associate’s degree – this one in Business Administration, right here at Isothermal.

The Robert Wendell Eaves Distinguished Teaching Award is given each year to an instructor who demonstrates excellence in teaching and a true zeal for service to students.  It was established by the Eaves family in 1982 to honor the late Dr. Robert Wendell Eaves and his distinguished career in education.

Dr. Eaves’ philosophy and credo on the importance of teaching was simple: “A zeal for service is the first requirement of professionalization. Without a zeal for service, our efforts as educators are void and helpless.  We cannot expect remuneration commensurate with our achievements.  Our remuneration comes largely from the joy of seeing people grow strong, useful and intelligent.  This is the best life has to offer.  No greater life can anyone live.”

Each year, the recipient is selected by a committee composed of past award recipients from nominations submitted by students, alumni, college personnel and members of the general public. Any full-time employee of Isothermal who spends at least 25 percent of his or her time on the job in teaching is eligible for the award.

Past winners have included Ruth Boehning, Vivian Sitton, Clara Fowler, Chris Koone, Carol Jones, Pete Golden, Aubrey Calton, Bill McDaniel, Dean Byrd, Gary Shipley, Mike Croussore, Lowery Luckadoo, Jay Coomes, Rhonda Davis, Cathy Alexander, Debbie Puett, Scott Bradey, Jeremiah Councill, Donna Harrison, Tim Beaver, Brett Parker, Amber Thompson, Melissa Johnson, Nathan Fisher, Scott Hutchins, Loreen Smith and last year’s winner, Marisa Sudano.

The other Eaves finalists this year were Rebecca Haney and Zack Freeman.