Phi Theta Kappa

Despite storm, RCC Inducts Students into Honor Society

At the forefront of an impending storm, RCC’s Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society ceremony prevailed on Friday, April 21, inducting more than 70 students.

Dr. Norm Howe

Remembering a Cherished Friend of RCC — Dr. Norman Howe

Dr. Norm Howe

Beloved professor, Dr. Norm Howe

On February 21, 2017, Rappahannock Community College (RCC) saw the passing of Dr. Norman “Norm” Manwaring Howe, one of its most beloved professors. The RCC community remembers Dr. Howe for his many years of service and dedication to the College and its students, and his family remembers him as a loving and committed father.

Dr. Howe was educated in Massachusetts at Avon Old Farms Preparatory and Worchester Technical College. He was commissioned into the Army Signal Corps as a 2nd Lieutenant. He earned a doctorate in chemistry and worked for Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, DuPont Chemical, at various colleges, and came to Rappahannock Community College in 1984 where he would remain until his retirement in 2004.

Dr. Howe made an impact not only in the quality of the academic courses taught in RCC’s chemistry and math labs but also in the lives of his students and fellow instructors.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor,” says Professor Charles Crook, who took over Dr. Howe’s position after his retirement. “He was my mentor, my colleague, and eventually became my friend as we worked together.”

Crook says of his and Dr. Howe’s approach to science, “We liked to let the students have a chance to explore, maybe make a mistake or two because you learn from them.”

“If you’d go in the class after [it] was finished, and there were one or two students in there with questions, he would still be on the board … he would spend however much time students needed,” says Crook.

“His ability to teach was known throughout several counties,” says son, John Press. “He was the world’s best tutor. I wouldn’t have gotten through organic chemistry without him. His approach to teaching was one that I [have] tried to emulate in my optometrist practice.”

“Over the years when I’ve been out in the community with my parents, there is always a former student they would run into. The former student would comment on how my father helped them through a class,” his daughter Diane Clark says.

“He would have taken the time [to] tutor them at school or the house, and he always was able to simplify so the student understood the material,” says Clark.

Dr. Howe was recognized for his excellence in teaching and dedication to his students and received awards and honors, including the status of faculty emeritus.

Outside of the RCC classroom, Dr. Howe volunteered at women’s shelters, taught courses for community groups, and also served as the President of the RCC Educational Foundation Board, for which he was also recognized in 2016 for his service and commitment. In 2004 at Dr. Howe’s retirement, his family established a perpetual endowed scholarship fund in his name that will assist scores of future RCC students in receiving a college education.

“Norm had incredible energy and rolled up his sleeves to help RCC while he was on the Educational Foundation Board,” says Dr. Elizabeth Crowther, President of Rappahannock Community College. “He served as the Board Treasurer, as well as its President, and played an active volunteer role in the Foundation’s Preakness Party annual fundraiser. He was not only my colleague but also my cherished friend.”

Dr. Howe was also a committed husband and stepfather, marrying his wife Gerry, who was widowed with five young children, in 1971.

“Marrying my mother with five children, ages 8-16, speaks a lot to his character,” says Clark. “He was patient, understanding, creative, MacGyver-like, and able to communicate information to the youngest of children.”

Norm and Ethel Howe encouraged the children to have an active role in two home renovation projects, which helped to strengthen their family bond.

“He just loved us as his own from the start. So that’s probably the biggest memory as to what kind of man he was to marry my mother,” his daughter, Marlene Shear, continues.

Dr. Howe connected with his five stepchildren by getting to know their passions.

Daughter Debbie Miller says, “I remember my Dad reading Sports Illustrated so he could converse with my brother about sports because Norm never played any sports … but he began reading Sports Illustrated so he could have a connection point with my brother.”

His legacy of patience to help guide students along their educational paths will be best known by his children, grandchildren, peers, students, and anyone he has every impacted with his passion in life.

As his daughter, Patti Phelps says, “He could’ve done anything in the corporate or academic world, but he chose to share his gift for teaching with those in his immediate community and the community college system.” — Mary Ashley Cline

Prof. Leslie Norris at the NMAAHC

A Shared History: Dr. Leslie Norris’ visit to the NMAAHC

Prof. Leslie Norris at the NMAAHC

RCC’s own Prof. Leslie Norris visited the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

Few people have a thorough knowledge of United States history. Mostly, we are familiar with the people and places repeatedly mentioned in the history books and referenced in the names for many U.S. buildings, streets, and cities. But, there are near countless more American people and events that have shaped our country’s evolution and influenced world history — but are seldom mentioned. Specifically, although many African-Americans have made tremendous contributions to the growth and development of the U.S. and the world, we are often left out of the history books and discussions about humanity’s greatest accomplishments.

On September 24, 2016, the Smithsonian Museums in Washington, D.C., opened its 19th museum — the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), which is located within steps of the Washington Monument. According to the museum’s website, the NMAAHC “is the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African-American life, history, and culture.”

On February 23, 2017, I visited NMAAHC for the first time — a trip sponsored by the Black Alumni Chapter of my alma mater, Old Dominion University. Faculty and staff at Rappahannock Community College asked that I share my thoughts about my visit to the NMAAHC with our community. As an African-American woman, when I reflect on my tour through the NMAAHC, I describe that experience as disturbing and educational but also inspirational.

The NMAAHC tour begins with an informational journey into the U.S. slave trade. A timeline on the museum’s elevator wall lists the years of history between the present and the beginning of the U.S. slave trade as visitors descend into the museum’s basement to begin the tour. I have seen artifacts from the U.S. slave trade in other museums, but the NMAAHC exhibit was particularly heart-breaking. As we toured the dim rooms and shadowy exhibits, recorded voices representing African slaves narrated the tour describing the misery and suffering they endured as they were torn from their homeland; transported in filth and squalor on slave ships, where many of them died; and sold to slave owners — often never able to see their families again.

The tour rooms’ haunting artifacts from the slave ships and auctions, such as wrist and ankle shackles and torture tools, were disturbing as I thought about the cruelty and inhumane treatment our ancestors had suffered at the hands of other human beings. During the tour, the NMAAHC slave-trade exhibit room was quiet except for a few visitors’ whispered conversations and the narrators’ solemn voices. After just a few minutes, I had to leave the NMAAHC basement’s exhibits because I was too filled with sadness to continue the journey.

Next, I rode the elevator up to the building’s top floor and worked my way back down through several floors of exhibits. We sometimes hear about African Americans’ successes in the entertainment industries, such as dance, film and television, music, literature and poetry, and sports, and the NMAAHC exhibits reiterated those accomplishments. But, the NMAAHC also educated visitors about African Americans’ nearly 500 hundred years of leadership in academics, activism, business, engineering, government, journalism, mathematics, medicine, painting and sculpture, philanthropy, politics, science, technology, and more.

The NMAAHC exhibits reminded us that some African Americans were often first in their field. For example, the NMAAHC’s Shirley Chisholm exhibit reminded us that in 1972 Chisholm was the first African-American woman elected to Congress and to campaign for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination.

And, of course, there were some popular exhibits I expected to see at the NMAAHC, and those were there as well. For example, the NMAAHC had a complete slave shack reconstructed inside the museum. Another exhibit had stools from the Greensboro, N.C., Woolworth’s department store’s restaurant lunch counter where African Americans staged a sit-in to protest segregation in 1960. The museum had Oprah Winfrey’s first stage set. They dedicated an entire room to boxer Muhammad Ali’s athletic and activism-related accomplishments. NMAAHC performers re-enacted some historical events in some exhibits to help audiences understand the significance of those events. And, I was among the crowd of excited visitors taking pictures of the exhibit celebrating Barack Obama’s presidency and Michelle Obama’s work as first lady.

The NMAAHC provides its diverse crowd of visitors with unique opportunities to learn about how much the U.S. has evolved and how lucky we are to be surrounded with so many talented people within our country. The museum has more artifacts and information than most people can view during a single visit. The NMAAHC is not just a celebration of African Americans’ accomplishments; it is a celebration of our nation’s accomplishments and reminds me that although our nation’s history is not perfect, we should still feel proud to be Americans.

Leslie Norris, Ph.D., is a Professor of English at Rappahannock Community College. Dr. Norris earned her doctorate from Old Dominion University and is a resident of Lancaster County, Virginia.

RCC RAM 2015

RCC Hosts RAM Free Medical Event this November

RCC RAM 2015

This photo was taken at RCC RAM 2015 of a dental professional works on the teeth of one of the 600 who showed up for free medical treatment.

Rappahannock Community College is hosting a free medical treatment event for the entire community on November 4-5 at Richmond County Elementary School in Warsaw. This opportunity will make treatment available to those who may not currently have resources available for medical action. In partnership with the Remote Area Medical (RAM) organization, the RCC Health Sciences program will offer free medical, dental, and vision examinations.

This opportunity will make treatment available to those who may not currently have resources available for medical action. In partnership with the Remote Area Medical (RAM) organization, the RCC Health Sciences program will offer free medical, dental, and vision examinations.

The event’s all-volunteer staff will include nurses, doctors, dentists, optometrists, and other trained health professionals. Among those participating will be faculty and students from the RCC Health Sciences department, and experienced practitioners from all over the Northern Neck, Middle Peninsula, the state of Virginia, and beyond.

“We are looking forward to partnering with many area organizations who continue to be very gracious in their support,” said Carrie Lewis, a faculty member in the RCC Nursing department. Lewis and her team helped organize the last RAM event held in 2015, which served 611 area patients, of every age from under one year, to 89.

Contributions of money, materials, and volunteer time that will assist with the event are welcome and are also tax deductible. Among the committee’s needs are medical and non-medical volunteers, medical equipment and supplies, food, and hospitality facilities.

For complete details on volunteering or to donate to this year’s event, please visit

Elizabeth Crowther and Paul Trible

RCC and CNU Sign Guaranteed Admission, Transfer Agreement

Elizabeth Crowther and Paul Trible

Dr. Elizabeth Crowther and Paul Trible, president of Christoper Newport University, come together to sign the new guaranteed articulation agreements between the two schools.

NEWPORT NEWS, VA — On Monday, April 3, Rappahannock Community College President Elizabeth Crowther and Christopher Newport University President Paul Trible signed a guaranteed admission and reverse transfer agreement.

This agreement allows students to transfer from RCC to CNU after they earn their associate degree.

Also, the agreement will allow for RCC students in appropriate transfer programs who have met the GPA requirements (3.0 or higher), to start at CNU early and still earn their associate degree while on the CNU campus.

The agreement will allow students to become a part of the CNU experience while earning credits that will apply to their RCC associate degree. After earning the degree from RCC, they will continue as CNU students, working toward their bachelor’s degree.

“I am just delighted to see this new partnership come to life,” said Crowther. “Thanks to this new agreement, our students who wish to continue their education at the next level will have Christopher Newport as an excellent option. That, I can say, is just wonderful.”

Once a student at RCC elects to participate in the program, guidance and advising from both colleges will be available to assist with transfer and to help maximize the student’s coursework options to promote timely graduation.

“This partnership is important to me very personally because the Northern Neck is my home,” said Trible. “I want more and more of the good citizens of the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula to choose to grace this campus. This partnership should bring more and more of the sons and daughters of the Middle Peninsula and Northern Neck here.”

“This partnership is also important to Christopher Newport. Over the years, we have received excellent students from Rappahannock Community College,” said Trible. “They have come; they’ve worked hard; they’ve graduated. And we want more [RCC] students. This partnership should allow us to do that.”