A longtime community college educator collects honors from the state and her colleagues


Elaine Barnes MAEd ’00 received a pair of lovely parting gifts far more special than a year’s supply of Turtle Wax to mark the occasion of her recent retirement from Haywood Community College, including an honor she now shares with the likes of poet Maya Angelou, evangelist Billy Graham, basketball superstar Michael Jordan and artist Bob Timberlake.

Elaine Barnes MAEd ’00 meets with students in the Haywood
Community College tutoring center that now bears her name.

N.C. Gov. Beverly Perdue bestowed the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award upon Barnes in recognition of the educator’s more than 30 years of service to HCC and the state. Created in 1965, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine is among the highest honors the governor can present to North Carolinians. It is designed to recognize individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state as exhibited by contributions to their communities, extra effort in their careers, and many years of service to their organizations.

“For the past 35 years, Elaine has had one – and only one – goal in mind: help students at Haywood Community College succeed,” said co-worker Margaret A. Studenc ’85 MA ’90. “Hundreds of people have advanced their educations under her guidance. Her colleagues at HCC and those of us whom she supervised served with a leader – Elaine – who was completely unselfish, completely professional and completely focused on always doing what is right and true.”

Barnes received the honor during a retirement reception on the HCC campus, where she also learned that the newly renovated Teaching and Learning Center is now named the Elaine D. Barnes Tutoring Center in recognition of her role in expanding the college’s programs in tutoring and other student support areas. “I am so glad I had the pleasure of working with Elaine,” HCC President Rose Johnson said as she presented Barnes with a plaque. “I know the value of this lady and what she brought to the college.”

During her career at HCC, Barnes most recently served as executive director of student success services. She previously was coordinator of the Teaching and Learning Center and the peer tutoring program, and lead reading instructor. Barnes also served as developmental reading instructor and GED instructor. She was instrumental in developing study skills classes in the early 1990s. She is a three-time nominee by students for HCC’s Excellence in Teaching Award, in 2000, 2005 and 2007.

“Teaching is such an honorable profession,” Barnes said. “The diverse ages, backgrounds and academic levels of our students make teaching a challenge. These same characteristics make teaching all the more rewarding. The mission of the community college – to take students from where they are to where they want to be – is inspiring. It makes dreams come true. It gives people second chances. To be part of that learning experience is an honor. It motivates me. It keeps me sharp.”

Diana S. Conard, marketing and communications technician at Haywood Community College, contributed to this article.