Forsyth Tech Instructor named North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year

Melissa Smith

Forsyth Tech Community College is proud to announce that Melissa Smith, Program Coordinator for the MRI program, has been named the 2022 NC Faculty Member of the Year.

This prestigious honor was awarded to Smith after competing with the other 57 NC community college nominees throughout the state.

Smith, an alumna of Forsyth Tech, has taught at the college for 11 years and has impacted her students, fellow faculty members, and staff over that time. Throughout her tenure, she has exemplified the highest quality and standards of instruction for her students. She consistently strives to promote learning, equity, program completion and positive post-graduation outcomes.

Smith works to bring the best to her students on all fronts and accounts. Here are quotes from some of her students’ evaluations: “She is awesome!” “Mrs. Smith strives to keep us goal-oriented while understanding other aspects of life take up our time.” And, “Mrs. Smith is great! She is very kind and understandable. You can tell she really cares about her students.” When asked what information they will take from this class that will benefit them in the future, one student simply responded, “Everything.”

State Board member Ann Whitford said, “We interviewed five extraordinary faculty members from across the state for this award, but Melissa’s passion and love for her students was exceptional and so very special to see.”

Smith has been an exemplary professional, working collaboratively to get the best outcomes for her students. She has worked with admissions and examined best practices to increase the diversity of cohorts in the MRI Program, utilized games and creative assignments to keep her students engaged, stayed abreast of new teaching methods, and constantly strives to strike the difficult balance of empathy and professionalism with her students.

Tamara Beck, Associate Dean of Imaging, Health Sciences, said, “It is her genuine ability to connect with students holistically that provides them with the necessary motivation and resources to fulfill their educational goals and transform their lives.”

The success of the MRI Program at Forsyth Tech, which has had 100% pass rates for the post-graduate American Registry of Radiology Technologists MRI Registry three times in the last nine years, is most certainly connected to Smith’s dedication, work ethic and creativity.

The official award, the Excellence in Teaching Award, sponsored by R.J. Reynolds, was established by the State Board of Community Colleges in 1985. This Award provides statewide recognition of faculty members who exemplify the highest quality and standards of instruction throughout the NC Community College System (NCCCS).

As a finalist, Smith was guaranteed to win $500 along with a certificate. The NCCCS Selection Committee interviewed her and she was selected as the winner by the NC Community College System Board of Trustees! Smith will receive $8,000, and the Forsyth Tech Foundation will receive $2,000 and a recognition plaque.

“I could not be more proud of Melissa,” said Dr. Janet Spriggs, President of Forsyth Tech. “She represents all of us with excellence, energy, and excitement – a true Trailblazer and now, an Excellence in Teaching state award winner — we are truly lucky to have Melissa on our team and in our Forsyth Tech family.”

SAS Certification Now Available At Forsyth Tech

Forsyth Tech Community College has added SAS certification to its diverse line-up of IT trainings and degrees. The college recently underwent a rigorous content review and developed a new class to become a SAS Academy, rendering it able to provide the certification.


This means that students will be able to learn how to write and understand SAS programs. The SAS Institute, based out of Cary, N.C., is the largest privately held software company in the world. Their primary area of focus is analytics software which aids businesses in decision-making processes; it can be used for analyzing financial data, store locations, pricing vs. competitor pricing and even pharmaceutical trials. The 2010 Census data was analyzed by the Census Bureau using SAS.


By adding SAS certification, students at Forsyth Tech will be able to study the four languages that are most in-demand in the data field all at once: SQL, SAS, R and Python. Starting in the Fall of 2022, students will be able to learn all four languages in just two semesters and earn a Data Programming Certificate.


“This is an exciting way for Forsyth Tech to equip our students with the specialized training in business, research and artificial intelligence that today’s employers require of IT professionals,” said Joey Bryant, Department Chair of the Davis iTEC/CyberSecurity Center at Forsyth Tech.


SAS and its corresponding programs, such as SAS Enterprise Miner, is used by many Fortune 500 companies, including JPMorgan Chase, General Electric, M&T Bank, Citigroup and Citi. You can learn more about Forsyth Tech’s Information Technology Database Administration degree program here.

Forsyth Tech Chosen for National Initiative Focused on Diversity and Manufacturing Careers

Apprenticeship Student

Forsyth Tech has been chosen as one of thirteen participants in The Century Foundation and the Urban Manufacturing Alliance’s Industry and Inclusion 2.0 cohort.  This national initiative is focused on community colleges delivering impactful credentials and addressing barriers in manufacturing careers.


This is an 18-month, learning-based opportunity for community colleges that works to “leverage a peer network and industry expertise to support community colleges seeking to explicitly center racial equity in credentialing programs, deepen cross-sector collaboration and support services, and increase the diversity of the student body and local manufacturing workforce,” according to the Urban Manufacturing Alliance’s website.


Since their inception a century ago, community colleges have been more representative of the communities that they serve, with larger segments of their student body coming from underserved populations than four-year institutions. This, when coupled with other important aspects of workforce readiness that community colleges provide the places they serve, make them perfectly poised to support the skyrocketing demands for a diverse, skilled workforce in manufacturing over the next decade.


The Industry and Inclusion cohort will help participating colleges expand their networks, learn from experts in the field, received tailored technical assistance, contribute to influential research and demonstrate results for students from diverse backgrounds.


Participation in the program will impact several of Forsyth Tech’s programs, including the wide range of offerings in the Advanced Manufacturing Department, such as computer-integrated machining, mechanical engineering technology and mechatronics. It will also support the business and industry partners that work with Forsyth Tech through the Learn and Earn Apprenticeship Program (LEAP for short), which works with local powerhouses like Siemens Energy, Pepsi Bottling Ventures and Progress Rail.


“This is a great opportunity to leverage our partnerships with local industry to continue to develop equitable opportunities for individuals seeking credentials that lead to family-supporting wages in manufacturing-related careers,” said David Dinkins, Chair of the Advanced Manufacturing Department at Forsyth Tech.


The purpose of the program dovetails perfectly with Forsyth Tech’s vision of being a catalyst for equitable economic mobility, empowering lives and transforming communities.


As always, the faculty and staff at Forsyth Tech are eager to bring what they learn to the community they serve. “We look forward to sharing the valuable information that we glean from being a part of this important and impactful cohort,” said Jennifer Coulombe, Associate Vice President of Business Partnerships & Process Improvement at Forsyth Tech.