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TCC celebrates annual award winners

Tidewater Community College recognizes five faculty and staff members from across the college with annual special awards on Aug. 17, 2023.

Selected by their peers, the honorees received their awards at TCC’s 2023 Fall Convocation held at the college’s Chesapeake Campus.

Professor of the Year
Heather Boone – Professor of Graphic Design

Heather Boone is the Professor of the Year, chosen by the Faculty Senate. Professor Boone has taught Graphic Design at the college since 2008 and is being honored for her dedication to student success and engagement.

Boone, a Virginia Beach resident, teaches typography, publication design, interaction design and systems design in online, in-person and hybrid formats.

“TCC is more than a college. It’s a place that changes lives,” Boone said. “Some students have so many obligations with families and full-time jobs and it’s rewarding when they reach their goals, find meaningful work and then reach out to tell you how well they are doing.” 

Her recent accomplishments include preparing for the new Visual Arts + Design Center, which is set to open on the Norfolk Campus in the fall. “It’s great to be in downtown Norfolk with plenty of design businesses and activity,” Boone said. “In addition, the design space is beautiful, and we have a lot of room to spread out.” 

Boone recently reworked the Associate of Applied Science in Graphic Design degree with Professor Mary Lee Shumate. The new degree is cohesive and covers all areas of design from visual communication to website design to motion graphics.

“It is so rewarding when you see students realize they love this career. They become excited by every project and want to see the classes just keep going,” she said. “Helping students find their path is the best part of the job.” 

Boone serves as the faculty advisor for the 340 Art and Design annual publication, formerly 340 High Street, and has facilitated ten editions. The most recently printed 23rd edition honors the journey of the Arts Center from Portsmouth to the Norfolk Campus. The 24th edition is currently in production and Boone is scheduled to begin the 25th edition with students in the Fall Semester at the new Arts + Design Center.

When she isn’t teaching, Boone spends free time with her son, William. The pair enjoy swimming, traveling and frequent trips to New York City. William is following in his mom’s footsteps with a passion for art and design. Recently awarded art student of the year in his grade, William is currently designing his own typeface.

Boone holds a Master of Fine Arts in design and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and printmaking from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts. She is also an alum of the School of Visual Arts in New York City and Winchester School of Art, part of the University of Southampton, in the U.K.

Faculty Special Achievement
Judy Gill – Professor of Mathematics

Judy Gill, director of Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) operations and associate professor of mathematics, was honored by the Faculty Senate with the Faculty Special Achievement award for her development of the Drone Pilot Program at TCC.

Gill, who joined the college full-time in 2004 teaches UAS and developmental and college-level math. “I am honored to be recognized by my peers with this award,” she said. “It means a great deal to me.”  

Gill was motivated to start the drone program at the college because she had always been passionate about new technology. She saw UAS or drones growing in popularity and becoming an indispensable tool in many industries. She wanted to find a way to help meet the country’s growing need for drone operators.

Gill began teaching drone classes at TCC during Fall Semester of 2022. The full program will be up and running in 2024.

Gill earned her Federal Aviation Administration’s Part 107 UAS Pilot License and began training to teach drone operations in 2018. She was one of the first faculty in the Virginia Community College system to participate in the Geospatial Technician Education-Unmanned Aircraft Systems Institute at Virginia Tech. The program was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, administered by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium. 

During the program, she learned to plan missions, fly drones, collect data, and maintain Unmanned Aircraft Systems. 

Through TCC’s hands-on program, students will learn how to plan missions and fly drones as well as gain the knowledge necessary to obtain their FAA Part 107 UAS pilot license. In addition to the skills necessary for operating drones, Gill finds that her students learn interpersonal communication skills and how to collaborate with a team to accomplish goals.

Gill’s passion for drones extends outside of the classroom. She enjoys attending drone light shows when they come to the Hampton Roads area. These displays feature 200-300 drones flying in formation while displaying colorful lights with accompanying music. She also enjoys flying drones for fun and learning about drones both in a recreational and educational setting.

A Virginia Beach resident, Gill holds a master’s in computational and applied mathematics from Old Dominion University and a bachelor’s in mathematics with a concentration in economics from Christopher Newport University. When she is not flying drones, Gill enjoys spending time with her family and pets, going to the beach, and playing pickleball.

Outstanding Adjunct Faculty
Alison Napier –
Assistant Professor of Art History

Alison Napier is the recipient of the Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Award. She is an art historian recognized for her significant contributions to course development and her focus on student success. 

Her passion for Art History comes from her curious nature and investigative spirit. “Art History is fascinating because you look at history, what’s happening in the world, and the cultural impact and then you are able to see how those factors result in the artwork of the day,” she said. “You really get to play an art detective.”  

Napier saw that Art History had a stigma of being for the elite and was drawn to being a professor in order to help everyone understand the joy of the subject. Throughout her career, Napier has taught at a variety of schools. She spent 20 years teaching at high schools and has worked at both small and large universities.

She enjoys teaching at a community college and working with a diverse student population who are all in different places in their lives. She says, “I love showing them that art is all around us and how it all ties together in the big picture.”

As an accomplished teacher of online courses, Napier was approached by the Distance Learning department and asked to create Open Educational Resource versions of four art courses. She created those course offerings, and now they use free online resources instead of textbooks.

Napier recognizes that oftentimes class resources can provide a financial barrier to students, and she gladly made these contributions to course development. In addition, she applied the same free resources in her own classes to help keep students enrolled and moving forward in their education.

Napier said, “I was honored to receive this award, and it is proof that we are overcoming the stigma around online courses. It is an acknowledgment not only of me, but of all online teachers.”  

Outside of teaching at TCC, Napier is a doctoral candidate writing her dissertation and working a full-time job. She holds two master’s degrees from Old Dominion University – one in humanities and art history and the other in applied linguistics and teaching English as a second language. She is at work on her doctorate in American studies and material culture from the College of William and Mary. 

She enjoys free time with her husband and two Labrador retrievers. Napier also enjoys driving her jeep to the beach, swimming and going to art museums to stay current on art exhibits to share with her students.

Classified Employee of the Year
Tommy Armstrong – Facilities Manager – Trade Services

Tommy Armstrong was recognized by the college’s Classified Association for his innovative leadership as facilities manager for Trades Services on the Virginia Beach Campus. Armstrong’s department covers the physical maintenance of the campus, which includes 126 acres of land and 13 buildings.

Armstrong and his team oversee the electrical, plumbing, HVAC and other system needs of the campus. They also respond to all after-hours emergencies, prepare for storms, and clean up after any weather event.

“Tommy believes in top-of-the-line service and performance. He does not cut corners and is willing to roll up his sleeves as a supervisor to accomplish all that needs to get done,” said Virginia Beach Campus Dean Kia Hardy.

Armstrong, a Currituck, N.C. resident, says he is humbled by this award. “It means a lot. One thing I always try to do is treat people fairly and work hard,” he said. “This award is the best I’ve ever received.”

He continued, “I’m accepting this award on behalf of myself and the staff I lead. They are all remarkable and work hard every day to ensure we have a safe and operational campus.”

Armstrong started at TCC in 1994 and has worked in facilities management on every campus. While working in the Electrical department Armstrong was instrumental in installing the fiber optic cabling, that provides phone and internet services across the college.

He also was involved in the building of the new Portsmouth Campus, as he was the trades manager at that campus between 2009-2013.

 A man of faith, Armstrong prays for the safety of staff each day. He said, “We work on systems that can cause severe harm or even death. Before coming to work I pray that my staff can go home at the end of each day and also for the knowledge, skills and ability to do all that we are asked to do.”

Armstrong was raised on a farm in North Carolina. He earned a degree from Guilford Technical Institute and is certified by the Department of Professional Regulations as a Master Electrician.

Tommy enjoys spending time with his wife of 36 years, Marie Armstrong, who has always supported his work as a maintenance manager. During inclement weather, she would pack his suitcase and food to get him through time spent on campus overseeing snow removal and monitoring conditions.

The couple has a side catering business and are known for their Carolina-style barbeque and their chicken. They also grow vegetables in a year-round garden. The couple have two grown sons and also cared for their niece, Victoria Smith, who had special needs and passed away at age 32 in 2022.

“My mamma always said a good name is better than riches,” Armstrong added. “She always wanted me to get the ‘Good Citizenship’ award, and I never did because I was very mischievous. This award represents that for me. I finally made it!”

Wage Employee of the Year
Penny Chase

Penny Chase is TCC’s Wage Employee of the Year. As a trade technician on the Virginia Beach Campus, Chase is known for going the extra mile in her position.

“Penny comes in every day and gets in her golf cart and does what is asked of her, plus more,” said Regina Simmons, custodial supervisor at the Virginia Beach Campus. “Penny is always willing and ready to help. I’ve seen her stop and help students who may be lost or have questions. Everyone knows who she is and speaks highly of her.”

Chase, a Virginia Beach resident, has worked at TCC since 2017.

Chase is largely responsible for the exterior appearance of the Virginia Beach Campus grounds. She ensures that all 80 outdoor trash cans are emptied each shift and picks up any debris littering the campus. She handles a myriad of tasks, largely outdoors, during the cold winter months and hot summers.

Chase says curb appeal is important and she wants to do her part to make a good impression when people come to campus.

“I am both honored and humbled by this award because the people I work with put in far more hours and have more responsibility than I do,” she said. “I enjoy working on this team, as everyone works together to get the job done.”

Chase also noted, “The best part is that I’m outside and get to see an air show with the Navy jets flying overhead each day!”

Chase says her children and grandchildren are her favorite accomplishments. She is the mother of a son, Paul Primmer, and a daughter, Philena Brant. She has three grandchildren who she enjoys spending time with.

In her free time, Chase can be found fishing from any nearby shoreline.