Ann Butler has served Sampson County and its citizens for more than three decades. As of Feb. 28, Butler has plans to retire and leave behind a legacy that those around her have grown to love.
Butler has been serving as the dean of Continuing Education at Sampson Community College since 2010. Before beginning her second stint of employment at the local educational institute, she served as vice president of marketing and community relations at Sampson Regional Medical Center for 25 years.
During her more than 30 years working, Butler says she formed relationships at both the hospital and community college.
“While there are many things about this college that I love, by far my greatest love is the relationships I’ve forged with staff, faculty and especially the students,” Butler shared. “I’ve never considered myself defined by my life’s work, but more importantly by the relationships I’ve forged and enjoyed along the journey. The value of those relationships I will always carry in my heart no matter where I go, no matter what I do.”
According to Butler, who says she plans to spend her time in retirement volunteering at local schools and wherever else she is needed, there have been many changes at the community college, with the most significant of those being the state elimination of a fee-waived class each semester for senior citizens.
“This move was extremely disappointing to me and to Continuing Education as a whole, because we understood the benefit that life-long learning opportunities provided to our aging population,” Butler said. “Not only were seniors provided the opportunity to gain new skills and realize personal enrichment through classes, but they were also provided an avenue to network and socialize with others. For many seniors living on fixed incomes, their ability to enjoy educational opportunities through the college has become financially unfeasible.”
Through her years at SCC, Butler said she has seen a heightened focus on workforce development, including preparing people just entering the labor force to be work-ready, retraining people who have lost their jobs and upgrading the skills of people who are currently working for opportunities that require advanced skills.
Butler’s career began as a teacher in Craven County, before she moved to Clinton City Schools to serve as a middle school teacher and coach. In 1985, Butler left the education world and began working in the marketing profession at Sampson Regional Medical Center, where she spent the next 25 years as the spokesperson for the hospital.
“One of the most gratifying educational experiences of my professional life was starting the youth volunteer program at Sampson Regional and seeing middle school youth who envisioned a career in healthcare get the opportunity to truly experience a hospital environment and see the many career possibilities they could pursue,” Butler said about her time working at SRMC. “Many of those young people are now enjoying careers as physicians, nurses, therapists and other medical professionals. To have been instrumental in introducing them to these career paths and seeing the personal success they now enjoy gives me a great deal of satisfaction to know I was a positive influence.”
Butler’s love and passion for others led her down her path of success, she said. Having a positive influence on a person’s life, she added, is extremely humbling and gratifying.
“On countless occasions, I’ve had both children and adult students share that they’ve been told by a loved one — by a parent, a spouse, and sometimes by another teacher — that they would never amount to anything,” Butler said. “I can’t imagine anything more devastating to one’s self-esteem. I believe there is learning potential in everyone and the challenge of teachers is to find an individual’s learning niche — find what sets them on fire and fuels that eagerness to learn.”
While SCC president Dr. Paul Hutchins admits he is sad to see Butler leave, he’s happy about her starting the next chapter in her life.
“When individuals retire from the college, I am always sad to see them leave, but excited for what retirement will bring to them,” Hutchins said. “Ann Butler has been a dedicated leader in our Continuing Education Division since February 2010. She has been a champion for workforce education and vocational classes that have brought enrichment to so many people in Sampson County. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work closely with Ann over the last five years. The one thing I will remember most about Ann will be the love that she has for students, her faculty and her staff.”
The vacant position will be filled by Amanda Bradshaw, who is the current Small Business Center director. Bradshaw began working for the college in 2014, after working with the Sampson County Cooperative Extension Office.
On March 1, Bradshaw will assume the role of dean of Workforce Development and Continuing Education, continuing the legacy Butler is leaving behind in her retirement.
“Amanda brings a unique tool kit and great energy to this position,” Hutchins stated. “I look forward to working with Amanda as she sets new goals for our Continuing Education Division and explores opportunities to expand the programs and classes that we offer to meet the workforce needs of our business and industry, as well as the enrichment classes that will benefit the citizens of Sampson County.”
As part of the transition, the department’s name will change as the college is intent on continuing to develop a workforce that meets the needs of the current industries.
“Sampson Community College has always played a vital role within the business community in part due to industry training of those already existing businesses, but also for those looking to build pre-employment skills,” Bradshaw explained. “This unique relationship with both sides of the workforce has offered the college the opportunity to build long-term relationships that are part of the fabric of Sampson County. Upon building these relationships, it has become evident with the growth of technology within all realms of business, the workforce must also continue to strive towards a fast paced forward direction.”
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.