Getting to Know Dr. Sandy Maddox
Dr. Sandy Maddox is director of the Lois G. Britt Agribusiness Center and an assistant professor of agriculture education at Mount Olive College. She has been with the College since August of 2007.
Dr. Maddox was born and raised in Charlotte and currently resides in Clinton, NC.
Doctorate of Education, NC State University; Master of Science, Soil Science, NC State University; Bachelor of Science, Conservation, NC State University.
PREVIOUS WORK EXPERIENCE:
Prior to arriving at MOC, Dr. Maddox served in various capacities employed by both NC State University and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. She conducted research within the Soil Science Department at NC State for 12 years; served for 8 years in Pender County as both a horticultural agent and county extension director for the NC Cooperative Extension Service: joined NCDA as the superintendent of the Horticultural Crops Research Station in Sampson County for 2 years; served as assistant director of the Division of Research Stations 4 years and lastly served as the director of the Division of Research Stations for 5 years.
Dr. Maddox received a number of awards for service and achievement while employed as a public servant with Cooperative Extension and the Department of Agriculture. However, according to Dr. Maddox, the most rewarding awards she has received would be the Advisor of the Year awards received while a student organization advisor at Mount Olive College.
What are your greatest strengths as an educator?
I think my greatest strength as an educator is that I make an effort to connect with the students as a professor, an advisor, and a mentor. I attempt to develop an environment of mutual respect in and outside of the classroom. Education does not only occur in the classroom, some of the greatest lessons learned actually occur outside the classroom. I work hard to teach students the theories and principles in the classroom, but application of these principles seems to me to be where real learning occurs.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I like it when I can tell that the students “get it” or when the light bulb goes on. I hear students complain that they will never learn a subject, but I encourage them to continue trying and eventually most succeed – that is what makes it enjoyable. It is fun to teach exceptional students and see them achieve. It is exciting to teach average students and watch them “get it,” and more importantly to see that they realize that they too are capable of achievement.
How do you integrate faith, learning and living?
I try to integrate faith, living and learning by offering students a chance to participate in various activities and opportunities for service that help to teach them the importance of Christian values in the things that they do every day. Whether gleaning for the hungry, providing coats to needy youth, mentoring to youth through education or talking with students about various subjects or even their future, I think it is important to take each of these opportunities to develop values and attitudes which will guide them to seek the truth and rely on and strengthen their faith.
How has your personal experience shaped you as a professor?
I often say that my 30 years involved in the agriculture industry in NC prepared me for what I am doing now and I believe that it has. I very much enjoyed my career time with Cooperative Extension, NC State University and the NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. All of these institutions and agencies are committed to both education and service. Folks can say what they want about state government, but I can assure you the people I worked with were dedicated hard working employees and went beyond the call of duty in many cases to get the job done. The network of people I have worked with and met allows me to call upon experts in the field of agriculture to come and share real life issues and experiences with students or they allow our classes to visit their facilities for learning. Many of these agencies and businesses serve as internship opportunities and career paths for our students. Additionally, the folks within these agencies are great collaborators and funding partners for the many outreach efforts that we undertake at the Agribusiness Center. Having been blessed to work with such great people and in an industry that is essential to NC allows me to share so many opportunities for knowledge with our students.
Describe what you consider to be your greatest contributions and accomplishments in education.
I was very proud to be a part of assisting with the development of the Bachelor of Science in Agriculture Education program at MOC. I worked with a number of folks (Dr. Tommy Benson, Dean Dorothy Whitley, Dr. Barbara Kornegay and others) to assist in the initiation of the degree program in 2007 and have worked hard to continue to strengthen and build the program to the level that it is today. Through our graduates we are not only returning educators to communities in eastern NC, but sending young people back to the rural communities from which they came as both leaders and community servants.
What do you consider to be the biggest challenge in higher education today?
I think there are a number of challenges facing higher education and the one that worries me the most is the increasing lack of opportunity for families to afford college due to rising costs and cuts in grants and scholarship opportunities. This is a growing problem especially for youth from economically disadvantaged families. With that said I must admit that MOC does an outstanding job of working with families to try to construct packets which will allow students to come to MOC, but generally this is a continuing problem nationwide and limits the accessibility of college to a growing number of students whose family’s financial situation is limited. I guess the other thing that bothers me is that while overall the numbers of students attending college has risen, the percentage of students completing their degrees has remained fairly low. The challenges that face students that are admitted are varied and range from learning how to study to how to adjust to life away from family. I think that developing an environment that provides some guidance and support can help students to fit in and to stay in school and complete their degree. We work hard to create a positive and supportive environment for our ag students here at MOC.
How do you encourage/motivate your students to dig deeper and stretch farther to achieve their goals?
When you can develop a relationship of mutual trust and respect that is the first step in getting students to realize their potential. I try to be involved in as many aspects of the student experience here at MOC as I can. I serve as a club advisor and as a professor. I am engaged in the activities that the students are engaged in and get to know them so I can better assess their capabilities. When we undertake a project, I work side-by- side with them and encourage them to stretch their limits and move out of their comfort zones. I again feel blessed that so many of the students I work with came through organizations such as FFA or 4-H in high school and already understand and know what leadership looks like. Some may just need encouragement and support to put this knowledge to work and to do the things they might not have thought they could. I had a young man this past year in danger of not returning due to poor academic achievement. He was a bright young man but had no idea how to manage his time and keep track of his schedule. After a “reality talk” with me and assistance from Student Services he has successfully turned his situation around and has surprised himself at how well he is doing academically. You can just see the confidence he now has in himself and he is excited about the year to come.
What makes MOC unique and special?
I think MOC is special because of the student environment that we have been allowed to cultivate in the Agribusiness Center and I am sure in other departments as well. Allowing students to have a place they feel welcome and where they can be together whether to study or to work together on a project, or to be together for support and socialization is what I appreciate the most about MOC and I know the students I work with do also. I think that the small class size allows faculty the opportunity to provide individual attention to students, but the engagement that occurs during the times that students are around and just conversing with me or other faculty is the time when we really understand what is going on in their worlds.