From left:  Russell Martin, Director of Marketing and Public Relations; Renae Frazier, Dean of Admissions; David Rosenbaum, Associate Dean of Students; Fran Wiley (front), Associate Vice President for Development for the PTC Foundation; Carol Paguntalan, Director of Academic Advising; Josh Lindsay, Dean of Arts and Sciences; and Eric Hawthorne, Director of IT Support.

Pluck, Tenacity Define PTC Innovation Team of the Year

It was a surreal day in March 2020 when schools and businesses everywhere closed their doors and sent people home to quarantine for an as-yet indefinite period of time. This response to the global pandemic felt abrupt at best and frightening at worst. No one was unaffected, but students especially felt adrift with so many unanswered questions. As they were still processing the full impact of quarantine, a team of educators at Piedmont Technical College (PTC) was hard at work identifying solutions to every possible contingency. Their immediate actions not only alleviated anxiety but enabled students to complete their spring term as seamlessly as possible.


Because of this Student Care Team’s quick, creative and decisive work, PTC and its student body persevered throughout a marathon period of social distancing and online or hybrid courses that continues even today as we make the slow, progressive return to normalcy. For their unwavering tenacity and commitment to our mission during the transition to online teaching, the PTC Student Care Team has been named the college’s Innovation Team of the Year.


“This team showed that, when we put our heads together, we can develop innovative solutions to challenges we could not have anticipated or planned for. I am extremely proud and humbled by their work to help students navigate the challenges of quarantine,” said Dr. Hope E. Rivers, PTC president. “Their efforts expedited the uploading of face-to-face course content to our D2L online learning management system, put loaner laptops in the hands of students who needed them for online learning, negotiated cooperation from various accrediting organizations to keep programs running under flexible conditions, and facilitating financial assistance for struggling students. And that’s just the beginning.”


Though the Student Care Team comprises more individuals from all divisions of the college than we can list here, some team members working in leadership roles include: Dean of Admissions Renae Frazier; Dean of Curriculum and Online Learning Karla Gilliam; Dean of Health Care Tara Gonce; Director of IT Support Eric Hawthorne; Dean of Arts and Sciences Josh Lindsay; Director of Marketing and Public Relations Russell Martin; Director of Academic Advising Carol Paguntalan; Director of Financial Aid Missy Perry; Associate Dean of Students David Rosenbaum; and Associate Vice President for Development for the PTC Foundation Fran Wiley.


“Whole curricula were redesigned around the idea of flexibility and remote access. Student programming was reimagined through a remote lens,” said Joshua Black, PTC vice president for Student Affairs and Communications. “Through the efforts of everyone at the college, and specifically the Student Care Team, we launched a new college on the fly.”


To assist students and other college audiences during the transition, team members launched a Live Chat tool on the college website, enabling users to interact and post questions with actual staff members live during operating hours. Staff held virtual enrollment and advising events.


With the community well-being in mind, the PTC Health Care Division donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that was in short supply to Prisma Health and lent ventilators from PTC classrooms to Self Regional Healthcare. 


As the college prepared for a phased return to campus, team members worked to install plexiglass screens at customer service points of contact, safety and distancing signage and hand sanitizers in high-traffic public areas. 
One of the harshest consequences of quarantine was the necessity to move awards and graduation ceremonies online. However, team members rose to the occasion, producing videos broadcast over social media and posting congratulatory banners outside our county campuses. Every effort has been taken to support and celebrate the achievements of PTC students and graduates. 


The rapid transition that started everything in motion and is sustained today is truly remarkable.


“In less than a week, the college moved to a completely virtual environment, finishing out the spring semester completely online,” said Dr. Keli Fewox, PTC vice president for academic affairs. “During that time, the Student Care Team developed and implemented strategic initiatives to ensure that all students were empowered to continue their education and be successful.”

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PHOTO: From left:  Russell Martin, Director of Marketing and Public Relations; Renae Frazier, Dean of Admissions; David Rosenbaum, Associate Dean of Students; Fran Wiley (front), Associate Vice President for Development for the PTC Foundation; Carol Paguntalan, Director of Academic Advising; Josh Lindsay, Dean of Arts and Sciences; and Eric Hawthorne, Director of IT Support.