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Walker & Whiteside’s Ronny Gillespie receives national recognition as instructor for Skilled Trades

The Upstate South Carolina Electrical Apprenticeship Program announced that one of its

instructors – Ronny Gillespie, adjunct instructor for Greenville Technical College’s Skilled Trades and Technical Training – was nationally recognized with the 2020 NISOD Excellence Award. This awards program, which honors those who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment and contribution to their students and colleagues, was established nearly 30 years ago by the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD), part of the University of Texas at Austin. Gillespie was one of 10 instructors from Greenville Technical College to receive this national award.

The Upstate Electrical Apprenticeship Program is a partnership among six regional electrical contractors – CarolinaPower, Eldeco, Hayes & Lunsford, HR Allen, Walker & Whiteside, and Watson Electrical. Registered with the S.C. Department of Labor, the program is administered by the Associated Builders and Contractors of the Carolinas (ABC Carolinas) with classes held at Greenville Technical College. The program utilizes Electrical curriculum developed by the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER).

“What makes the training that Ronny and so many other educators do so important is the positive impact it has on the individual and on the generations to come. Ronny’s integrity, knowledge level, and desire to inspire and teach others sets him on a scale above so many others,” said Larry Roberson, Program Coordinator, Economic Development and Corporate Training.

For the 2020-2021 session, there are 35 students in various stages of the Apprenticeship – the biggest total enrollment to date. Gillespie has taught all Electrical levels but is currently teaching Level IV coursework. The program shifted to an online learning platform last spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. Students continue to receive “live” classroom instruction from their usual teachers from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. every Tuesday evening via Blackboard Collaborate Ultra.

Technology – specifically the Blackboard online platform – allows instructors to broadcast their lectures. The physical demonstration of skills is an essential requirement in finishing each course in the four-year program. Module exams and hands-on, practical application portions of the classes are conducted on campus following guidelines designed to provide the utmost safety for students and instructors.

By day, Gillespie manages construction projects for Greenville-based Walker & Whiteside, a leading design-build electrical contractor, which celebrated its 70th anniversary last year. Gillespie has a total of 30 years in the electrical field, the past eight with Walker & Whiteside. He has spent most of his career in construction working on small to medium-sized commercial projects with an emphasis on the retail and restaurant markets. Gillespie holds his Master Electrician’s license in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Virginia. He also has a low voltage license in Georgia as well as a Lightning Protection license.

“Ronny’s real-world experience, combined with a personal desire to share his knowledge with the next generation of electricians, makes him an exceptional instructor,” says CarolinaPower President Chris Moore, who has chaired the Upstate Electrical Apprenticeship Committee since its inception 10 years ago.

“When Ronny came on board as an instructor more than six years ago, he injected a boost of energy into the program, enhancing NCCER’s solid curriculum with his leadership and wealth of experience. He clearly invests a lot of time with the students. Ronny goes above and beyond classroom instruction… for him, it’s all about helping them develop their careers,” said Moore.

This is the second teaching honor for Gillespie in recent months. Gillespie was named “Economic Development and Corporate Training Adjunct Professor of the Year” by Greenville Technical College for the 2019-2020 school year.

“Ronny is literally a master educator in the sense of the master craftsmen. Although today’s educational environments are quite different from what they were hundreds of years ago, every now and again you find a person who enjoys teaching students the knowledge and hands-on skills that reinforces the trainee’s learning just as the old-world master craftsmen did so many years ago. Ronny is that person for the ABC Carolinas Upstate Electrical Apprenticeship program here at Greenville Technical College,” said Roberson.

About the NISOD Excellence Awards

The NISOD Excellence Awards were established in 1991 to provide NISOD member colleges with an opportunity to recognize individuals doing extraordinary work on their campuses. Since then, more than 25,000 recipients have been honored with the Award by their colleges. Using their own criteria, NISOD member colleges submit the names of men and women each year who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment and contribution to their students and colleagues. All individuals whose names are submitted are recognized as NISOD Excellence Award recipients. Each Excellence Award recipient receives a unique silver medallion engraved with The University of Texas and NISOD insignias and adorned with a burnt orange ribbon.

More about the Upstate Electrical Apprenticeship Program

Apprentices work full-time during the day, attending classes one evening per week at Greenville Tech. The comprehensive program teaches the skills for both construction and maintenance electricians. Participants begin with NCCER Core Curriculum – Introductory Craft Skills, followed by NCCER Electrical Level I to IV classes. Successful completers receive a certificate from Greenville Tech, a nationally recognized credential from NCCER, and a U.S. Department of Labor Apprentice Diploma.

The Upstate Electrical Apprenticeship Program has graduated 20 electricians since its inception in 2008. There were only three electrical contractors involved in the early years of the program – CarolinaPower, Hayes & Lunsford, and Walker & Whiteside. As the program gained momentum in recent years, Watson Electrical, Eldeco and HR Allen came on board.

To learn more about the Upstate Electrical Apprenticeship Program, contact Greenville Technical College’s Larry Roberson, Program Coordinator at or by phone at 864.250.8276.

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