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TCC announces annual award winners

Tidewater Community College recognized four faculty and staff members from across the college with annual special awards on Aug. 20.

Selected by their peers, the honorees received their awards at TCC’s 2020 Fall Convocation, which was held virtually this year due to COVID-19.

Professor of the Year

Professor David Wright

David Wright, 69, is the Professor of the Year as chosen by the Faculty Senate. That honor is the icing on what is, no doubt, the most storied year of his 47 years at the college. He became TCC’s first viral professor thanks to a Twitter post from one of his students last December. Wright’s innovative, hands-on teaching style to make science fun and relatable includes experiments that range from walking on a bed of nails to jumping up and down on a pogo stick to using a slingshot. He appeared on “The Kelly Clarkson Show” in January and participated in interviews with NBC News, the BBC, People Magazine and NPR Education.

Wright, who started at the Virginia Beach Campus the same year it opened, 1973, and retired in 2020 as physics chair, was named Professor Emeritus in May. He was also TCC’s Professor of the Year in 2017. Wright completed bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Brigham Young University and his doctorate at Virginia Tech.

“I really love teaching physics and astronomy,” he said. “My goal has always been to get students excited about science. A long time ago, I decided that if I was not having any fun teaching my classes, my students would not have any fun being there. I have really been blessed to be here at TCC.  We have a lot of great instructors, a very supportive administration and awesome students.”

Faculty Special Achievement

Professor Sean LaCroix

Sean LaCroix, assistant professor of economics, was honored by the Faculty Senate with the Faculty Special Achievement award for his innovative teaching and dedication to student development.

LaCroix, 51, developed an innovative YouTube video series, “Central Point,” that covers key topics in both micro and macroeconomics. The series includes more than 30 short videos that have been incorporated in all of his classes.

“I’m humbled and honored by this award because I’m surrounded by very competent, high-quality faculty who are involved and work hard to serve our students,” LaCroix said.

“It’s about to be our time again,” he added. “Community colleges are really important when the economy struggles, and I’m happy to be in a place that’s part of the solution.”

The Virginia Beach resident co-wrote (along with Paul English) “Student and Faculty Perceptions of Effective Teaching,” which was published in the Community College Enterprise. The 15-page article, which took more than a year to write, focuses on key areas of learning for students.

LaCroix brings real-world subjects front and center in his classes. “Last semester we discussed everything from raising the minimum wage to passing on the national debt to our children,” he said. “Connecting course concepts with the headlines and news trends helps illustrate what might otherwise be boring academic concepts.”

LaCroix holds a bachelor’s in business management from North Carolina State University and a master’s in economics from UNC Charlotte.

Support Staff Employee of the Year

Stephen Cartwright

Stephen Cartwright was recognized by the college’s Classified Association for his solutions-based approach that grows the college’s vision in multiple areas.

The digital solutions manager is the architect and chief expert in TCC’s Salesforce CRM system, which allows the college to dynamically communicate with prospective students at various stages of their academic journey. His colleagues regard him as detail-oriented, approachable and nimble enough to handle last-minute requests without sacrificing quality.

“I’ve always enjoyed problem-solving, and I love bringing that energy to my role at TCC,” he said. “It helps to be surrounded by such a dedicated team.”

The Norfolk native and Old Dominion University graduate, who joined TCC in 2014, was instrumental in the redesign of the college website. He has since grown his skill set to launch various initiatives and continues to find ways to innovate and improve existing processes. Cartwright, 31, is working toward becoming a Salesforce Certified Developer.

Wage Employee of the Year

Landes Canady-Remson

TCC alumna Landes Canady-Remson, the administrative assistant in the Norfolk Campus advising office, is the Wage Employee of the Year. Canady-Remson, 33, had two unsuccessful attempts at college before coming to TCC. 

“TCC gave me a second chance, so I see my job as my chance to pay it forward,” she said. “I owe so much to the professors and staff who invested in me.” 

Canady-Remson is the first face students see when entering the advising suite.

“Landes’ passion for TCC and its mission burns bright,” said Meredith Pollard, lead counselor on Norfolk Campus. “She welcomes students and provides critical information and guidance.”

The Newport News resident earned her Associate of Science in Social Sciences with a 3.8 GPA. She is at work on her bachelor’s in human services at Old Dominion.

Canady-Remson said, “When I see someone upset and going through it, that’s when the job is most rewarding. It’s my honor to step in and help provide solutions.”

From here to Hollywood

First trip to In-N-Out Burger?


Posing with Snoop Dogg’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame?


Sitting alongside singer-songwriter Kelly Clarkson on her very own talk show?

That’s another boxed checked for Tidewater Community College students Erica Church and Kierra Brothers, who went all the way from here to Hollywood for a special appearance on “The Kelly Clarkson Show.”

“Surreal,” is how 18-year-old Church describes the two-day whirlwind she experienced in Los Angles along with her classmate Kierra Brothers and the college’s professor-gone-viral, David Wright.

Last month Church and Brothers collaborated on what was initially meant to be a fun tweet among their peers — essentially a highlight reel of the engaging way Wright connects physics concepts to his students. The Tabb High School graduate expected a few dozen likes and shares. Instead, the tweet went viral, attracting more than 27 million viewers, all bonkers about watching the longtime TCC professor lie on a bed of nails and jump up and down on a pogo stick in an attempt to make science relatable.  

Wright and the students made national headlines in Yahoo, People magazine, NPR Education and Good Morning America, to name just a few.

Then came the call from “The Kelly Clarkson Show.”

“That was so unexpected,” said Brothers, 19, a Salem High graduate.

Church, Brothers, and Wright flew to Los Angeles the week before Christmas to tape a segment on the syndicated talk show. That spot will air at 5 p.m. on Jan. 16 on Fox WVBT.

“You always think of yourself as someone watching the show,” Church said. “You never think of yourself as the one on the show.”

Church had never been aboard a plane prior to flying from Newport News to Charlotte, North Carolina, to LAX, Los Angeles. Wright and Brothers kept her calm throughout; a chauffeur from Universal Studios greeted them at the airport.

With taping scheduled for the next day, the threesome toured Hollywood, grabbed fare from trendy chain In-N-Out and headed to Hollywood Boulevard.

“We were both excited about seeing Snoop Dogg’s star,” Brothers said.

They were stuffed after a visit to the famed Southern California soul food chain, Roscoe’s House of Chicken & Waffles.

By 8:30 p.m. PT, Church and Brothers were exhausted. Not Wright.

“He went out for a doughnut!” Church said.

When their driver pulled up to Stage 4 on the Universal Studios lot the next morning, Church and Brothers said they felt as if they were in a movie. A stop in the green room for a few nibbles from a fruit and cheese tray was followed by an escort taking them to individual dressing rooms. Their names were on the door.

“They pampered us so much,” Church said.

While their clothes were being steamed, Church and Brothers had their hair and makeup done, chatted with the producers and finally got to meet Clarkson herself.

“She’s the friendliest person ever,” Church said.

“She was so sweet,” Brothers agreed.

Tune in to see exactly how the show played out. As for Brothers and Church, they’re back at TCC for spring classes to complete their certificate in Phlebotomy with plans to apply to the Digital Medical Sonography program this spring.

It’s been a memorable few weeks, said Church, whose only regret is, “We’re sad not to have Dr. Wright anymore.”

Going viral with David Wright

Tidewater Community College students have always known how special physics Professor David Wright is. Now the rest of the world knows, too.

Less than 24 hours after TCC student Erica Church shared a video montage on Twitter of the professor who thinks nothing of hopping on pogo sticks, lying flat on a bed of nails and walking barefoot over broken glass to demonstrate the laws of physics, the post went viral.

More than 25 million (and counting) have watched the 1:42 clip of Wright’s stunts that make his physics classrooms the opposite of boring (a million more tuned in on Instagram).

Church, taking Wright’s class as a prerequisite for TCC’s sonography program, started the day with fewer than 100 followers. She’s now nearly 6,000.

“I was expecting a few likes,” said Church, who initially shared the video in a group chat with her classmates. They encouraged her to put it on social media, but nobody expected what happened next.

Wright came to work in the Science Building on Thursday thinking it was just another day in his career that began 45 years ago at TCC. But by 11 a.m., Church’s Tweet had a million-plus views, and media requests for Wright began to swell.

What started with WTKR and The Virginian-Pilot expanded to Wright chatting with BuzzFeed, Good Morning America and NBC News. The “India Times” picked up the story. “The Kelly Clarkson Show” reached out and he talked with NPR Education in New York.

He had to give an exam at 5:45 p.m. (he also teaches astronomy), but fit in one final phone interview with a Yahoo reporter first.

Media requests continued to pile in the next day with, CNN, BBC,, WAVY-TV and many other publications from India to Italy.

“I’ve always thought students should be taught how science can be fun,” said Wright, whose interactive antics make him a “Rate-My-Professors” favorite among students from visiting universities, too. During TCC summer session, it’s not unusual to see multiple students from Old Dominion and James Madison University fulfilling their general education science requirement by taking Wright’s introductory physics class.

“Maybe this will encourage more physics professors to talk to students about more than equations in class,” he said.

The 69-year-old, a father of four and grandfather to seven, demonstrates Newton’s Laws of Motion by rolling a bowling bowl down the hallway and teaches convection by setting a blaze outside. He was named the college’s Professor of the Year in 2017.

“He clearly loves this subject,” Church said. “He loves to make it fun for us and it’s great to see someone who loves his job that way.”

You never know who might sign up for Elements of Physics now.

Better hurry and register! Spring classes start on Jan. 13, and we know at least one science class that’s filling up!

Church, by the way, got an A!