Education briefs: RSS Teacher of the Year gets Phillip J. Kirk Scholarship

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 29, 2021

SALISBURY — Todd Parker, the Rowan-Salisbury Teacher of the Year, has received the prestigious Phillip J. Kirk, Jr. Honored Educator Scholarship.

Phil Kirk, a native of Rowan County, began his teaching career at Knox Middle, and taught at Salisbury High School, when he was named the Salisbury City Schools Teacher of the Year. Kirk later held several positions in state government, including an appointment as chair of the N.C. Board of Education.

A well-known advocate for education, Kirk presented the scholarship at the Rowan-Salisbury Board of Education meeting on Monday.

Todd Parker

“Dr. Parker exemplifies the perfect teacher. He loves his students and wants everyone to succeed at the highest level,” Kirk said.

Each year, the Kirk Scholar is able to attend a North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching program of their choice on the campus of Cullowhee or Ocracoke. The scholarship covers all costs associated with the teacher’s  participation including instruction, program materials, food and lodging on the NCCAT campus, travel to and from the campus, and payment for a substitute teacher while attending NCCAT. In addition, Parker will receive $250 to use in his classroom.

NCCAT was established in 1985 to support teachers and impact students in North Carolina by providing teachers with new knowledge, skills, teaching methods, best practices and information to take back to their classrooms.

Catawba library awarded $25,000 grant

SALISBURY – The State Library of North Carolina has awarded Catawba College’s Corriher Linn Black Library a $25,000 SLNC Adapts Library Services and Technology Act grant.

Amanda Bosch, director of digital pedagogy and scholarship, and Jeffrey Bostian, learning technology and systems specialist, wrote the grant and have been working with students and faculty to introduce 21st-century learning technology to the Catawba campus.

The project will provide equity and access to Catawba students so they are able to experience emerging technologies and virtual travel as they solve real-world problems that lead to ideas and experiences that can be leveraged as these students embark on internships, graduate school, or the job market.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to work with professors across campus to provide students access to the Greg and Missie Alcorn Digital Learning Lab using the augmented and virtual reality lenses and software to solve real-world problems,” Bosch said. “These opportunities can be life changing for students as they work to differentiate themselves from other college graduates in both the job market and as they apply to graduate schools.”

Catawba College will offer access to AR/VR technology to students engaged in problem-based learning projects from across curriculum areas. By providing access to this technology, students move beyond travel constraints imposed by COVID protocols, budgeting concerns or mobility challenges and can virtually discover the world, and identify and design solutions to real world problems.

With the large number of Pell grant students at Catawba, an intentional effort to provide these opportunities is critical so students have experiences that enable them to continue their education or begin their careers. Using immersive experiential learning strategies increases inclusivity as all students can participate and engage either by using, creating and/or developing with the AR/VR technologies.

“We are so pleased that faculty at Catawba College and the staff at the Corriher Linn Black Library will have the unique ability to provide access to this technology thanks to this State Library of North Carolina Grant,” added Bosch.

The State Library of North Carolina awarded nearly $1.6 million supporting 45 local library projects that target high-need communities to address digital inclusion, expand digital network access, purchase internet-accessible devices, provide related technical support in response to the coronavirus, and support community needs.

 RCCC to offer cosmetology instructor training program

SALISBURY – The Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Cosmetic Arts program is offering a cosmetology instructor pathway that allows licensed cosmetologists to earn the credentials to teach their craft.

For many licensed cosmetologists, teaching is a natural next step to enhance their careers once they have gained professional experience. Former Rowan-Cabarrus student Patricia Stirewalt operated a successful business before deciding to return for the cosmetology instructor program. She now works as a cosmetology instructor at the College, preparing new students to enter the field.

“I had gained plenty of experience and knowledge, and I felt confident I could share what I had learned,” Stirewalt said. “It is amazing to teach students what I have gained over the years and help them attain an education that has so many opportunities attached. This industry has a broad range of job opportunities that allow flexibility with family life, traveling and continuing education.”

Stirewalt’s favorite part of working in the cosmetology field is being able to make people feel good about themselves. “How you look certainly does not make you a better person, but it is rewarding to have the ability to help someone improve their self-esteem because they like the way they look,” she said.

The Rowan-Cabarrus cosmetic arts program is well-known across the state for preparing professionals for careers in cosmetology, esthetics, and manicuring/nail technology. Upon completing coursework, students are prepared to take licensure exams as required by the North Carolina Board of Cosmetic Art Examiners.

Located at the Rowan-Cabarrus College Station campus in Kannapolis, the cosmetic arts facility features state-of-the-art equipment, classroom space, and a salon and spa clinic. The program offers day and night classes and experience in a professional setting.

“We are proud of our outstanding cosmetic arts program, and we are pleased to be able to continue working with graduates as they build and grow their careers,” RCCC President Carol Spalding said. “Passionate teachers who know their subject matter are at the core of a student’s success, and we are happy to be able to train cosmetologists to share what they have learned and prepare the next generation.”

Enrollment is open now for the cosmetology instructor training program, and classes begin August 16, 2021. For more information, please visit For more information about Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, please visit or call 704-216-RCCC (7222).

RCCC Foundation awarded $25,000 Duke Energy Foundation grant

SALISBURY – Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Foundation has been awarded a $25,000 grant from Duke Energy as part of $615,000 distributed by the energy utility for workforce development in the state.