Wilkes Community College has recognized the exceptional service of two employees, Jere Miles, recipient of the 2023 Abby and Gordon Burns Distinguished Faculty Award; and Cindy Smith, recipient of the 2023 Abby and Gordon Burns Distinguished Staff Award. Each received a $500 gift for their contributions to the college.

The purpose of the Abby and Gordon Burns Distinguished Faculty and Staff Awards is to recognize, honor, and celebrate exceptional faculty and staff members who are making a difference in and out of the classroom. Dr. Gordon and Abby Burns sponsor these annual $500 faculty and staff awards which will be awarded in perpetuity. Dr. Burns served as president of Wilkes Community College for 18 years from 1996-2014.

The awards were presented at the 2023 Faculty/Staff Christmas luncheon by Interim President Morgan Francis.

Francis stated, “Jere Miles was nominated because of his exceptional passion for education, his compassion for students, his professional attitude, and his clear desire for teaching. His nomination letter read in part, ‘Jere embodies the ideal characteristics of a community college instructor and his devotion to teaching and learning has no boundaries.’ Francis added, “Jere started working with WCC as an adjunct in June 2008 and was soon hired as a full-time instructor in August. He was given the opportunity to create WCC’s simulation and gaming program from scratch and even wrote his own textbook for it. By 2016, Miles had become the Lead Instructor for Information Technology and has taken the Information Technology Program to new heights. Miles has not only been named the 2023 Abby and Gordon Burns Distinguished Faculty Member, but he is also in the top five for the Community College System Outstanding Instructor award.”

Francis stated, “Cindy Smith began her tenure with WCC in 2006.” In her nomination letter, Cindy is described as an employee who exemplifies dedication and going beyond the job description. She is dependable, very much a self-starter, and is a wealth of knowledge to WCC. Her nomination letter describes her as a worker who performs her job duties and then some with the most willingness. Cindy represents dedication as one who has worked weekends to ensure tasks are completed and has even postponed vacation. You will never hear Cindy complain, as she displays such a positive attitude and is most importantly, student-centered in all that she does.”

Wilkes Community College, a member of the North Carolina Community College System, is a public, two-year, open-door institution serving the people of Wilkes, Ashe, and Alleghany counties and beyond. Established in 1965, WCC continues to build on a strong history of meeting the educational needs and cultural interests of our students, community, and workforce. WCC prepares learners for success in a dynamic world.

l-r: Morgan Francis, Interim President, and Cindy Smith, Assistant Registrar

l-r: Morgan Francis, Interim President, and Jere Miles, Lead Instructor of Information Technology