Submitted by McHenry County College
Four McHenry County College employees were recently recognized with an Award of Excellence at the 34th National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development International Conference.
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Cynthia Van Sickle of McHenry, department chair and English instructor; Judi Cameron of Wonder Lake, department chair and anthropology instructor; Matt Irie of Elk Grove Village, art instructor; and Cheryl Galizia of Cary, administrative assistant to the executive dean of Humanities & Social Sciences, were selected by the MCC administration to receive the teaching excellence awards from NISOD. They received their awards at NISOD's annual Teaching and Leadership Conference in Austin, Texas.
This is the seventh year in a row that MCC faculty received this award and they were among more than 1,000 recipients. NISOD is headquartered at the University of Texas at Austin.
"These faculty members and administrative assistant were given this award because they exemplify the high quality and innovative spirit recognized by NISOD," said Tony Miksa, vice president of Academic and Student Affairs.
Van Sickle has worked at the college for eight years, and she teaches a variety of composition courses. These courses are delivered via online, hybrid, and traditional classroom settings; she also co-teaches learning communities classes on censorship and banned books as well as war and international relations. Additionally, she teaches literature classes, including Introduction to Literature and British Literature I and II. She maintains a commitment to diversity in her classroom, and her teaching philosophy is one that encourages students to step outside of their personal comfort zone by exploring and questioning their beliefs through rigorous and analytical reading and writing.
"I include readings from marginalized and othered voices in my composition and literature courses to help students understand their own subject position," she said.
She recently began volunteering for the Helping Paws Animal Shelter in Woodstock and previously volunteered as an on-call domestic violence advocate for Turning Point. She is currently the chair of the English and Reading departments and the interim Learning Communities chair at MCC. In addition to her own classroom assessment, she is responsible for completing the assessment reports for the English and Reading departments every semester and recently completed intensive program reviews for both departments. She is also the interim vice-president of the American Association of Women in the Community Colleges, a member of the Women's History Month Committee, a member of the Student Placement and Advising Services (SPAS) committee, and co-advisor of the student club, Cheshire Cheese Literary Society.
Irie has regularly received outstanding teaching evaluations from students during the four years he has worked at the college. He strives to instill in his students an enthusiasm for art and design and encourages them to think critically about their work.
"I encourage my students to explore and take chances in their work and at the same time help them in the realization of their own artistic language," he said. He also provides as much information as possible and exposes students to issues in art making to aid in their growth as artists.
"In my studio classes, I seek to create an atmosphere devoid of traditional hierarchies so that the teacher and student are more akin to fellow artists sharing a studio together." Practicing a commitment to diversity, Irie exposes students to a diverse range of professional artists' works who address a broad range of issues. Irie also serves as faculty adviser and creator of Art Club, a student organization which supports and promotes diversity on campus. To share technology with students, Irie gives a workshop for students at least once a year on how to light and digitally document 2D artwork and uses a DVD series and other videos to show his students contemporary artists and trends in art. In the community, Irie has juried many local art exhibitions including the first and second annual Adolescent Allies Art Show at the Dole Mansion, the 2009 Fox Valley Art Show at MCC and Northern Illinois University's Annual Ars Nova Exhibition in 2010. Irie has served on various college committees in the past few years, including serving as chair of Voices literary magazine committee. Irie also organizes a campuswide food drive for community pantries. While working at MCC full-time, Irie has been invited to speak about his own work at Harper College, Northwestern University, and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He also exhibited his own work in Chicago, Wisconsin and New York and Sweden and he has been mentioned in several prominent publications such as The New York Times, Juxtapoz magazine, the Chicago Reader, and Sculpture magazine.
Cameron, who has worked at the college for 12 years, shares her passion for anthropology each semester and demonstrates the benefits of anthropological information and principles to everyday life. Within each course, she exposes students to different subcultures in the U.S. and to different cultures from around the world to help students understand the diverse ways people live.
To reach the different learning styles of students, she presents lessons using a variety of methods, such as writing lecture notes on the board or posting selected lectures online, using images in PowerPoints and conducting hands-on activities when possible to assist those who learn best "by doing." Cameron uses technology in her classroom and supplements her lectures with links to YouTube videos and other websites.
"I periodically ask my students to use their cellphones during class to look up answers to their own questions rather than me simply providing them with an answer." Cameron, a U.S. Army veteran, regularly supports and contributes to a variety of community organizations including Habitat for Humanity, the USO, the VFW, local food pantries and various Native American groups, among others. On campus, she served as the division liaison to the college's assessment committee for the Humanities and Social Sciences Division.
Galizia, who has worked at the college for 18 years, has adopted a personable, yet professional "can do" attitude and provides a high level of quality customer service to students to help them toward successful outcomes at MCC. "I project a sense of calm and clarity while removing obstacles from students' academic path, while letting them know that I can accommodate their needs in a timely manner," she said. She maintains a high level of confidentiality when necessary, keen analytical and problem solving skills and a supportive administrative office where anyone can feel comfortable asking for assistance. She has served on many college committees, including teams involved with implementing the campuswide information system.