Throughout the year, Col. Edward Timmons works to change the lives of troubled youths at Tarheel ChalleNGe Academy. State leaders recently took notice of his work.
Timmons, the director of the academy in Salemburg, recently earned a Governor’s Award for Excellence, in the category of Outstanding State Government Service.
“This is an extremely humbling feeling,” Timmons said. “It hasn’t really settled in.”
He was honored during a luncheon and ceremony on Sept. 27 at the N.C. Museum of History. After several days, Timmons said he’s still overwhelmed by the recognition for his efforts.
“You never know who you’re going to have an impact on,” Timmons said.
According to state officials, he inherited a program that was crumbling at its foundation. It failed to meet graduation requirements for close to 20 years. The grounds and the facilities were falling apart. Technology resources were inadequate to meet 21st century academic needs. The program was facing a shutdown.
He has been the leader of Tarheel ChalleNGe for more than three years and was grateful to be recognized in just a short period of time. To fix the problems, he took a strategic approach and made sure none of the academic functions were disrupted when the building was being repaired. He also ensured that the security was updated by adding cameras and a perimeter fence.
In addition to changing the look of Tarheel ChalleNGe Academy, he also focused on leadership and officials said he helped increase the low morale of people administering the program, which improved the student experience.
His efforts have been proven successful when he managed to recover overdue reimbursements in the excess of $90,000 in child nutrition funds. The state of North Carolina has saved an estimated $18.3 million in youth incarceration costs during his tenure.
“There’s clearly no amount of money that you can apply to saving a life,” Timmons said in regards to the mission of the academy. “And I believe that you’re saving souls.”
Timmons was among 118 state employees considered for an award in six categories. The Office of State Human Resources received the nominations and the Awards Selection Committee selected Timmons for the “Outstanding State Government Service” award.
“To be in the company of such outstanding government employees or state employees is phenomenal,” Timmons said of the nominees and other award winners.
After cadets finish the program, parents are impacted by the program as well.
“You never know who all you have inspired,” Timmons said.
After seeing how the academy has a positive impact on their lives, parents often have a better relationship and communication with their children.
“The parents recognize a change in themselves,” Timmons said.
Positive change is something Timmons enjoys to see.
“The words that come from individuals in itself is a testimony of whatever your efforts, and so forth, have been,” Timmons said. “I’m constantly talking about how great my staff is for how they work with these young men and women to help them redirect their lives and lead to what we call a second chance.”
One of the slogans of the academy is “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.” Timmons said leaders at the academy help students with their goals and life aspirations.
“It’s just priceless,” Timmons said.
Prior to Tarheel ChalleNGe, Timmons was a colonel in the U.S. Army and was the Senior Army Advisor to the Adjutant General of North Carolina. He assisted in training, evaluating and preparing soldiers, and also helped veterans get readjusted to life after returning from war.
“My 32 years, one month and 23 days in military service was all about everyone trying to achieve the American dream,” he said recently.
It’s something he wants the cadets at the academy to enjoy, along with having a successful life.
“It starts with our youth,” he said. “Our youth are our next greatest generation. Every generation is going to rise to the level of challenges that their generation has to face in their lifetime.
“I tell them that — they are our next greatest generation,” he said. “And if we don’t do our part in order to try to reach them and to help them see their potentials, we’re not doing what we’re supposed to do as leaders and parents and adults in society.”
Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.