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Idealism Leads At ICC

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Dr. Margaret Annunziata, President of ICC

A chat with Margaret Annuziata is as comfortable as sweet tea at Smith's Drug or lunch at the Copper Penny.

She is down home good people.

The new ICC president began her journey to the Spindale campus when she switched from an interest in clinical psychology to education in graduate school at Auburn.

Working with foster kids and juvenile delinquents in group homes and elsewhere convinced her that damage to children needs to be addressed early on in the educational system.

Frederick Douglas said "It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."

Dr. Annuziata is in the hunt to address educational challenges as early as possible.

While she believes the college is full of outstanding faculty and great programs, she highlighted the equine therapy program. According to the college's website, "This course introduces a variety of equine assisted activities and therapies (EAAT) used to benefit persons with disabilities. The class will provide an overview of activities and therapies such as therapeutic horseback riding, Hippotherapy, therapeutic driving, and equine facilitated therapies."

She said there is very little of equal quality to this unique program to be found anywhere else in the state and beyond.

During her almost three months on the job she has been deeply impressed and inspired by the people she has met and the work she has been exposed to.

Her earliest influences were, of course, her parents, whose marriage produced ten children. "I'm ninth of ten. No matter how old I get, I will always be the little sister. They are kinder to me than I deserve."

She grew up in the small western Kentucky town of Cloverport and has fond memories of her third grade teacher, Modella Mattingly. "She always treated every one of us as though we were important. And that's what we aim to do here at the college. We want to make sure every aspect of our community is being served."

Those are some tall orders, but listening to Dr. Annunziata it is not hard to imagine them filled. There is a warmth in her voice that conveys what she found in Ms. Mattingly, "The most impressive thing about her was her compassion, her ability to connect with all of us and make us feel important."

She also said, "I want the relationship between the college and the community to be woven tightly. The most important word in our name is community."

She is also proud of WNCW, 88.7 on your fm dial and heard worldwide on the Internet at WNCW.org.

"We just finished our spring fund drive and I was so impressed with our international pledges. Streaming is so important so that the station can be heard anywhere," she said.

She agreed the campus is beautiful.

The president plans to lead a strategic planning effort that will involve staff, faculty and others as they seek new ways to be involved in community life.

How are things going so far? "I am absolutely loving it. Doing a lot of listening and learning, trying to get a sense of the college and the community." Of the current faculty and staff she said, "They're the best, doing amazing work to support the community."

She said, "We must be engaged in the community to be sure that we serve collectively. The opportunities are unlimited for what we can do to serve."

In case you missed it, that was an example of unmitigated idealism, the kind that can handle a big load.

Speaking of big loads, her husband, Ken, handles contract negotiations for a global logistics company. They have three children: Nicolas in college at UNC-Greensboro, Michael who is finishing high school in Davidson County where his mom last served another community college, and daughter Sydney who will start high school locally next year.

She said the family has been spending weekends here and is most pleased to have been welcomed.

Prior to joining the team at ICC, she served as Vice President of Academic Affairs at Davidson-Davie Community College. Leading an outstanding team of faculty and staff across curriculum and non-credit programs, she worked in collaboration with business and industry, K-12, and university partners to build and sustain opportunities for students to earn educational credentials and skills that positioned them for highly skilled, rewarding careers.

Dr. Annunziata also served the faculty, staff, students and communities of Davidson-Davie as a faculty member, director of student success and institutional assessment, coordinator of Continuing Education programs, and director of the campus child development center.

She is a passionate advocate for educational access and equity, having led the College's Achieving the Dream and Frontier Set initiatives and working with faculty to support teaching and learning in support of student success.

Isothermal serves Rutherford and Polk counties and the surrounding region in western North Carolina.

She holds a doctorate in educational leadership from Wingate University, a master of science in human development and family studies from Auburn University, and bachelors' degrees in psychology and economics from Bellarmine University.

Her warmth and sincerity will be a tremendous asset to Rutherford and Polk counties and the surrounding region the college serves. She may end up doing as well as her third grade teacher by making all she serves feel important.

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