Dr. Paul Gainey, Allied Faculty within the University of Mount Olive’s Department of Arts and Education, has been named the 2021 UMO Adjunct of the Year. The award is given in appreciation to an adjunct faculty member who exemplifies devotion above and beyond the classroom. Students nominate faculty members. The nominations are then considered by a faculty committee which makes the final selection.
Gainey retired from Craven County Schools in July of 2019. He was the Special Programs Coordinator with the Exceptional Children’s Department. In addition, he has served as a Principal, Assistant Principal, and Classroom Teacher. He has taught at ECU, NCSU, and at several community colleges. Gainey began working at the University of Mount Olive in the fall of 2013 as an adjunct instructor teaching EDU 486 and 488.
“To be recognized by my students and colleagues for the work I do is really rewarding,” said Gainey. “I chose to teach at the collegiate level because I wanted to impact what we do in classrooms for the next generation.”
Gainey is widely known for his interactive teaching style by connecting his lessons to his students’ regular everyday experiences. “I tell stories, I connect the learning to what they might experience with their own families or their students in class, and I try to keep open communication with them through telephone and email, even after they leave my classes,” he said. “If the students can make sense of the curriculum and how it connects to their lives as teachers in schools, then they will remember what they are learning for a long time to come.”
Gainey believes a university education should be a process by which students learn how to learn as opposed to merely jumping through hoops for a diploma. “When we concentrate on teaching students to embrace learning as a continuous journey as opposed to being a means to an end, then they will get so much more from what we do,” Gainey said.
Gainey’s connections to UMO are many. He grew up as the grandchild of two of UMO’s initial Board of Trustee members. His mother, brother, and niece also attended the institution. Those connections, and the University’s strong faith affiliation, are what attracted Gainey to teach at UMO. “UMO was conceived by faith from its founding and it has grown each step of the way because, those who were guiding it, had the faith to see each new initiative through to completion. In the same way, I pray that God will give me the insight to say and do what is important, so that my students will benefit from the educational experience.”
Gainey lives in Cape Carteret with his wife of 23 years, Jennifer, and their eight-year-old daughter, Avery. Jennifer is a teacher at Croatan High School.