Calvin Shaw is Gaston College’s Instructor of the Year

Calvin Shaw, Chair of the Criminal Justice and Paralegal Technology programs at Gaston College, was named the 2020 Instructor of the Year. The announcement was made at the College’s Employee Appreciation Ceremony in February.

Shaw won the Faculty Excellence Award for Divisional Instructor of the Year, representing the Business and Information Technology division. Other Faculty Excellence Awards were presented to Dr. Virginie Maggiotti for Arts and Sciences, Rama Olson for Engineering Technologies, Kelly Vass for Health and Human Services, and Doug Mabry for Industrial Technologies.

Man posing outsideIn 2004, Shaw began teaching as an adjunct faculty member at Gaston College. Prior to that, he had been teaching in the College’s Basic Law Enforcement Training program. He became a full-time instructor in August 2010.

“I was a full-time Captain with the Gaston County Police Department and had always planned that one day I would teach college,” Shaw said. “The opportunity presented itself in 2010, and I decided to make the change.” At that time, he had been an active duty police officer since 1984, and he is currently a reserve officer with the Gaston County Police.

“Calvin makes criminal justice relevant and interesting to students, drawing heavily from his vast experience in the criminal justice field. And, he genuinely cares about his students, which helps guide them towards success,” said Lisa Albright-Jurs, Associate Dean of the Business and Information Technology Division.

“Knowledge and service is what I would like for every student to take away from these programs,” Shaw said. “In both fields, Criminal Justice and Paralegal, practitioners will be dealing with people who are facing a difficult time. When the student is able to work in their field, I want them to remember to use their knowledge and remember it is about service to the individual. Remembering the knowledge and service commitment to others is the first step in making a positive change for others.”

When asked about his reaction to being recognized as Instructor of the Year, Shaw replied, “I think the best word for me to describe how I felt was humbled. With so much experience and talent in the faculty and staff of Gaston College, I was humbled to know that I was selected for the award.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has required changes in the way classes are being taught and Shaw’s programs are not unaffected. “For the Criminal Justice and Paralegal programs, we were fairly lucky, as we had made the most of online instruction prior to the pandemic,” he said. “Paralegal had to adjust a bit, due to requirements from the N.C. Bar Association. The Forensic Science program had to move to a more online program for a semester, but it was fairly smooth. All in all, we were in pretty good shape.”

Faculty and staff have had the second half of the spring semester and all of the summer semester to make preparations for the upcoming fall semester. Rushing to make adjustments for spring and summer was a bit more difficult. “But students were terrific, and the faculty and staff came through, and I am sure it will be pretty much the same in the fall,” said Shaw. “Forensic Science will have some online and hybrid classes, and Criminal Justice will be totally online. Paralegal will have hybrid and seated classes in the fall.”

Shaw is enthusiastic about the educational opportunities that Gaston College offers to prospective students. “One of the biggest reasons that students should choose Gaston College for their start in the Criminal Justice/Paralegal programs is the experience of the faculty,” he said. “Every faculty member in both programs has actually worked in the profession in which they are teaching. Experience cannot be gained in the classroom, but you can learn from it there. This insight given by experienced instructors into how students’ education will be utilized in their careers is invaluable.”

He continued, “Another reason is the flexibility of the program. A few semesters ago, the programs began to offer accelerated courses that are eight weeks in length instead of the normal 16 weeks. This means that in some cases, students may be able to finish their Associate degree in less than two years.”

To Shaw, Gaston College represents a strong community that supports all its constituents—students, faculty and staff. “Being selected as Instructor of the Year is a wonderful honor. But I would not have been able to even be considered for this award without the help of many other people at the College,” he said. “I am forever grateful for others who have guided my continuing journey in education and my quest for more knowledge.

“I am also thankful for the opportunity to serve the students at Gaston College,” he added. “Being part of their educational journey is an honor. If you think about it, you have the opportunity to change a student’s future, and I want that change to be positive, based on knowledge and the idea of service to others.” 

For more information about the Gaston College Criminal Justice and Paralegal Technology programs, go to or contact Calvin Shaw at, or 704-922-6270. 


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