After a 30-year career in law enforcement and the military, many people might have chosen to relax and take it easy. Cape Fear Community College criminal justice instructor Jerry Duncan isn’t one of those people.
Duncan was recently honored as the winner of the 2010 Marilyn Goodman Anderson Award for Excellence in Teaching. Nominated by students, faculty and staff, Duncan was chosen for his outstanding ability to motivate and inspire students, his leadership ability, devotion to student success and dedication to the mission of the college.
Duncan’s family moved to Wilmington six years ago after he retired from the U.S. Army and his son graduated from high school, but his days of traditional retirement left him wanting to do something more.
“After a brief period of ‘retirement’, I needed something more to do than just retirement activities,” said Duncan.
Then one day he noticed an ad in the Star News regarding a position vacancy for a criminal justice instructor. He feels fortunate to be hired and began teaching a full schedule in the spring 2005 semester - and with that, a second career was born.
Like other retired professionals, Duncan considers his role as a teacher an extension of his former career.
“For me, teaching at CFCC is the culminating experience of all that has come before,” Duncan said.
Duncan discovered an interest in teaching while training Army soldiers in various intelligence disciplines.
“I love students. I love learning about them and learning from them. I love the fact that they are sometimes smarter than I give them credit for, and that they take from me more than they sometimes realize. I help them grow up and mature…they help me stay alert and on my toes. It’s a wonderful symbiotic relationship. In the end it is my goal to make them a better person if I can. When they let me know that I have been successful, I cannot wait to try again,” Duncan said.
However, Duncan’s teaching philosophy is more than simply imparting skills or knowledge of a subject. His goal is to guide students on how to succeed.
“Some students come to Cape Fear with dreams but not a plan to make them happen. Others are still working on their dreams and goals. In either case it is incumbent on me help them realize their vision of their future,” Duncan said.
Duncan began his career in law enforcement in 1975 when he graduated college and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the US Army as a military police officer. His assignments included duties as an training officer at the US Army MP School and as MP Platoon Leader and Operations Officer.
After four years on active duty, he returned to civilian life and continued his law enforcement career as a deputy sheriff in the patrol division of the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina.
In his first year there, he was named the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office Rookie of the Year and awarded the JP Strom Award as top graduate of the SC Law Enforcement Basic Training Academy. Later he moved to the Simpsonville, SC Police Department as a patrol officer.
In 1986, Duncan left law enforcement and entered the business industry working as an investigations supervisor for a private investigations company. In 1988, he went back into the Army, this time as a military intelligence officer with a primary designation as a counter-intelligence officer. His duties included the conduct of sensitive security and personnel investigations, as well as security assessments of various organizations and facilities.