RCC employees shine in statewide Showcase Awards


RCC’s own Hatley Bright and Caroline Stelter

At the 33rd annual convention of the Virginia Community College Association in Hampton, October 1-3, one faculty and one staff member from Rappahannock Community College were showcased in special presentations recognizing consistently outstanding performance in their fields. Hatley Bright and Caroline Stelter have been chosen to represent the college on this important occasion.

To qualify for this honor, faculty members must demonstrate excellence in teaching. Also, both faculty and staff honorees must have made significant contributions to education in general and to their own colleges in particular, as well as showing a continuing interest in their own personal and professional development.

Assistant professor Hatley Bright is the founding head of RCC’s Culinary Arts department. She began her postsecondary academic career in history, first earning a bachelor’s degree from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, and then traveling to England to continue her studies at Oxford and Reading Universities. But she soon showed her versatility by turning in a completely different direction: gaining accreditation as a chef and certified wine sommelier from Cook Street Academy in Denver, Colorado. She has also completed a career studies certificate in Italian cuisine at the International Culinary School for Foreigners in Turin, Italy, with emphasis on preparing northern Italian specialties and pairing them with appropriate wines.

In 2014, Bright won one of RCC’s Faculty Awards for Professional Excellence, and was also invited to participate in the Virginia Community College System’s Faculty and Administrators’ Leadership Academy. In Spring 2015, she attended a nationwide Master Teacher Seminar; again, RCC chose her for this seminar and funded her participation. “It’s going to enhance all the rest of my teaching career,” she says. In her spare time Bright enjoys yoga, cooking, reading, and spending time on the water, and is an enthusiastic oenophile.

Representing RCC’s staff was human resources manager Caroline Stelter, who also serves as the college’s diversity officer. She holds the degree of bachelor of arts in sociology from the University of Virginia, as well as a certificate from the Human Resource Certification Institute (a national accreditation program), and is a member of the Greater Richmond Society for Human Resource Management. Stelter grew up in the Northern Neck and graduated from Lancaster High School; she enjoys reading, cooking, bicycling, and her family and friends.

College president Elizabeth “Sissy” Crowther praised Stelter as “one of the finest HR professionals in the Commonwealth.” According to Crowther, Stelter has transformed the HR function by raising standards for the unit, aggressively working to develop employees to reach higher levels, and supporting creative solutions to staffing in a tough funding climate. Stelter’s leadership positioned the college to receive one of the nation’s “Best Colleges to Work For” awards in 2015.

In addition to the Showcase honorees, the VCCA also recognized RCC web designer and marketing specialist Eric Pesola, who won three prizes for his work at the college: third place in the category “Postcards,” second place in “Newspaper/Magazine Advertising,” and first place in “Website/Homepage.” Pesola holds the degrees of bachelor of arts in communications from Christopher Newport University and master of business administration from Averett University. His spare time is devoted to photography, movies, comic books, gadgets, and his family.