On Thursday, January 7, 2021, The Alamance County Democratic Party had the privilege to award Steve Van Pelt the prestigious Order of the Long Leaf Pine. This is the highest award for state service granted by the Office of the Governor. Nominees must have 30 or more years of service in the state of North Carolina. Steve was nominated by Elaine Berry, chair of the Alamance County Democratic Party; Dr. Cindy Moss; and former ABSS Superintendent Dr. Bill Harrison.
The Order of the Long Leaf Pine is awarded to individuals for their contributions to their communities, extra effort in their careers, and many years of service to their organizations. Steve has all those qualifications.
In November 2019, Steve Van Pelt served his last day on the Alamance County Board of Education, bringing to a close 51 years of service to public education in North Carolina.
In Berry’s nomination, she says: “Steve began his career in education as band director at East Rowan High in Rowan County in 1969. In 1977, he became band director at North Moore High until 1988, when he was named Moore County Teacher of the Year. Steve moved into school administration in 1988 in Alamance County where he would serve as assistant principal at Cummings High until 1997. For the next 5 years, he served as principal at Sellars-Gunn Education Center. Soon after his retirement in 2002, Steve became band director at Clover Garden Charter School where he would teach until 2007."
In addition to Steve's 38-year career in public schools in Rowan, Moore, and Alamance, Steve has served as a member of the Alamance-Burlington School System's Board of Education since 2004. During his 16 years on the Board, Steve has provided leadership, insight, and experience that has helped Alamance County schools move towards improved student achievement, equity among the schools, recruitment and retention of teachers, and needed school building maintenance and construction. In addition, he has mentored many young people who aspire to careers in politics and public service.
"Besides being one of the state's greatest advocates for public education, Steve is a wonderful family man and community leader," Berry continued. "His wife, Mary Ann, is also a retired music teacher. Their three children--Chuck, Kathryn, and Jeffrey--all graduated from Southern High and still live in Alamance Founty with their families. An Eagle Scout himself, Steve has volunteered with the Boy Scouts since 1977. He has been an active member of Graham First United Methodist Church since 1988, having served on numerous committees, including the Administrative Council and Staff-Parish Committee. Currently Steve chairs the Alamance Juvenile Crime Prevention Committee on which he has served since 2004. Steve's love for the arts is also reflected in his community involvement in that area, including the Alamance Chorale and the Arts Council of Alamance County."
"Suffice it to say, Steve Van Pelt is a well-respected, much loved figure in the Alamance County education and arts communities in particular. Steve sets the bar high for us all not just by the longevity of his public service, though 51 years is quite remarkable, but by the quality of that service. It is for Steve's exemplary service to public education in North Carolina that I nominate him to receive the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.”