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home : news : news July 22, 2019

6/16/2019 12:24:00 PM
Cliff Grimsley Earns Prestigious Honor
Gaston College biology instructor Cliff Grimsley is joined here by college president Dr. Patricia Skinner.(Photos Courtesy Gaston College)
Gaston College biology instructor
Cliff Grimsley is joined here by college
president Dr. Patricia Skinner.

(Photos Courtesy Gaston College)
Shown is Grimsley’s award: the 2019 North Carolina Science, Mathematics and Technology Award for Outstanding Educators.
Shown is Grimsley’s award:
the 2019 North Carolina Science,
Mathematics and Technology Award
for Outstanding Educators.

Lincoln Herald Staff

DALLAS, N.C. - Gaston College biology instructor Cliff Grimsley recently earned an impressive award.

According to college spokeswoman Stephanie Michael-Pickett, Grimsley was recognized with the 2019 North Carolina Science, Mathematics and Technology Award for Outstanding Educators. He was honored in connection with his contributions to the state’s excellent STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. The N.C. Science, Mathematics and Technology (or SMT) Education Center presents the awards to individuals and institutions that contribute to the high quality of our state’s STEM education.

And according to Dr. Melissa Armstrong, Grimsley has 32 years of teaching experience. He has been with Gaston College for the past 21 of them. The chairman of the college’s science and math department, Armstrong added that Grimsley is widely recognized for his dedication to his students.

“When he gets into the lab, it’s like this little bit of a gleam comes into his eye—like he’s got a secret,” she said. “He’s really strict with his students. But they don’t push back, because they know that he’s setting a bar high for them so that they can be successful in whatever it is they go on to do.”

Grimsley spoke further about his work in the classroom.

“With microbiology,” he said, “think of bacteria and viruses and all the nasty things. That’s my profession. I’m not an instructor to sit in the front of the classroom and say, ‘Here’s the lab. Turn it in to me in three hours.’ I’m there with the students. I look over their shoulders when they look in the microscope. I’m there whenever they need me for any aspect of the lab.”

Armstrong continued that Grimsley has started infusing research into his classes, “so we’re really starting to build the STEM pipeline.”

Grimsley is enthusiastic about sharing with his students the importance of research in their studies.

“I took a weeklong course at Yale University that introduced me to research in the classroom,” he said, “which is where you take your traditional microbiology labs, and then you add a research component to those. I see the light bulb when students are finally able to put various microbiology tests together and say, ‘Oh yeah, that is why we did this.’ You can see that little flash of light in their eyes.”

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SPARC Director Ashley Hagler, who directs undergraduate research and co-ordinates biology as well for Gaston College, also extolled Grimsley.

He is, she said, “able to make that connection between the faculty and the students, which leads them to trust him, not just to learn the material but to ask him questions about their future.”

Gaston College students are not the only ones to benefit from Grimsley’s enthusiasm and dedication.

“Over the years,” he said, “I’ve been working with students from sixth grade to 12th grade for their science fair projects. Anything that requires a lab setting beyond what their high school has, they’ll come here and do all of their research. The students make me feel younger, even though I’m the age of some of their grandparents. I see myself in the future probably retiring and then returning to the classroom. Not having children of my own, these are my children.”

The SMT Center’s awards program was established in 2008, created as a way to recognize individuals and organizations that dedicate themselves to bettering STEM education.

“I was very humbled yet honored to be selected,” said Grimsley, “as the pool of nominees was very impressive.”


About Gaston College

Gaston College is one of 58 community colleges in the North Carolina Community College System.

Serving both Gaston and Lincoln counties, it enrolls some 8,000 students each term in curriculum programs. It averages more than 17,000 annually in its economic and work force development and continuing education programs. It offers more than 100 fields of study to obtain a degree, diploma or certificate.

To learn more about the College’s services and programs, be sure to check out the Gaston College Website at

Got a question? Ask us! Check out the aforesaid Website and click on the “ask us” button in the upper-right corner of the home page. “Ask us” is an Internet-based service that is designed to assist prospective and current Gaston College students and members of the community in receiving quick responses and answers to frequently asked questions about tuition, financial aid and scholarships, continuing education and so much more.

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