Success Stories: Jo Curtis (Transfer Programs)


WPCC Opened Doors to the Future for Area Educator

Photo of Jo CurtisMorganton — Jo Curtis always wanted to teach. But after graduating at the top of her class from Gamewell High School in Caldwell County, Ms. Curtis began a career as a self-employed hairdresser. She enjoyed that profession for the next 17 years. And yet, it was not exactly what she wanted. So in 1979, her restlessness led her to call Western Piedmont Community College’s (WPCC) Learning Lab (now known as the Academic Success Center).

“I knew my career at that time was just not what I wanted it to be,” said Ms. Curtis. “My call to the College helped me find my way to the placement tests I needed to begin my higher education. I also found encouragement from faculty members as I began my college career there.”

In two short years, Ms. Curtis excelled at WPCC where she served as campus President of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society of two-year colleges and academic programs, and completed her Associate in Arts degree. She went on to receive her bachelor of arts in History from the University of North Carolina at Asheville as the school’s first to graduate with a 4.0 grade point average. In 1986, Ms. Curtis acquired her master’s degree in English at Appalachian State University. By that time, she had been teaching Language Arts and Social Studies at Oak Hill Junior High School for two years.

In 2001, two years after leaving the Burke County School System, Ms. Curtis returned to WPCC, this time as an adjunct Developmental English instructor. “As an instructor at WPCC, I often saw my students as myself as a young mother of two trying to go to school. I knew where they were and could understand their struggles,” she continued. “I also knew that my degree from WPCC gave me such a solid background and great preparation for the next steps in my life.”

Jo Curtis retired from Western Piedmont this summer. Somehow it just seems natural for her to complete her professional teaching career at WPCC. “This College changed my life,” Ms. Curtis explained. “As a student here, doors opened to allow me to learn about myself, the importance of knowledge, as well as perspective on other people, the world, and my place in it. But I am not unique in gaining all this from Western Piedmont; many, many students gain this and more from WPCC. I am an advocate for Western Piedmont, both as a former student and instructor.”

Western Piedmont Community College offers associate degrees designed for transfer to senior colleges and universities. They are the Associate in Arts (AA), the Associate in Science (AS) and the Associate in Fine Arts (AFA). The degrees are designed in compliance with a Comprehensive Articulation Agreement (CAA) between the North Carolina Community College System and the constituent institutions of the University of North Carolina. We invite you to learn more about WPCC’s transfer degree programs. To speak with someone about the program, contact Amanda Rhea, Transfer Counselor, at (828) 448-3159 or by email at

You can also get information about becoming a student at WPCC.

Western Piedmont Community College enrolls approximately 4,000 students annually in pursuit of college transfer degrees, two year associate degrees and diplomas. More than 10,000 students enroll each year in continuing education courses for professional development and personal enrichment. The College also provides programs for high school completion. Western Piedmont received recognition for Exceptional Institutional Performance based on standards established by the North Carolina General Assembly.

LIBBY BARGER, 828-448-3121