Kalamazoo Valley's first Instructional Faculty Awards were announced recently by the Faculty Advisory Team. Students were encouraged to cast votes for the college's Best Instructor. Nearly 700 nominations, representing about 98 percent of the student body, were received.
The recipients were recognized at a luncheon hosted by the Faculty Success Center. Award winners were Rick Brill, Political Science and History instructor; Chafe Hensley, Graphic Arts and Art instructor; Kathy Kerstetter, Business and Math instructor; Nicole McClure, Math instructor; Jeff Shouldice, Law Enforcement and Police Academy instructor; and Mary Walter, Biology and Health Careers instructor.
"Our students know a lot about what a good teacher is and we have a lot of faculty who are doing good teaching," said Grant Chandler, Dean of Instruction at Arcadia Commons Campus, while congratulating the winners.
Rick said receiving the award was an honor. He said he works hard to connect with all students. "One of the greatest talents in teaching is empathy," he said.
One of the students who nominated Brill said, "Mr. Brill is extremely patient and appears to love teaching. He answers all questions no matter how elementary they seem. Mr. Brill gets involved with his lessons and seems to have a passion for making sure all of his students understand what they need to know. He is friendly and treats everyone equal. I never liked Government before, but now because of Mr. Brill, I get involved with my local elections along with trying to make a difference. As Mr. Brill tells his students, 'Your voice does make a difference.' Mr. Brill is an asset to KVCC."
Brill said he loves teaching at Kalamazoo Valley. "I'm honored to be a part of this whole thing," he said, calling Kalamazoo Valley "a real mover in this community."
Chafe Hensley said he considers it his job to help his students move across the finish line. He was a successful graphic designer before he became a Kalamazoo Valley instructor. Receiving the award reaffirmed that he's doing a great job in the classroom. One of the students who nominated Chafe said, "After three years of classes here at KVCC and the Center for New Media, I can honestly say that Kristopher "Chafe" Hensley is the most dedicated and engaging instructor in the Graphic Design department. Not only does he take the time out of his busy life to enrich the student's focus on the field, but he takes classes himself to keep his efforts in check. Mr. Hensley ensures a positive and productive learning atmosphere in every class he teaches, no matter what your skill level. He is not strict, nor does he slack. But he understands that life happens, and as long as you do the work and try your best, you'll do more than survive. When you leave his class, you will leave with new skills and new outlooks on Design and Application. You never leave a class period empty, for he always keeps your glass of ingenuity full. When anyone asks for a recommendation for the Graphic Design program, his name is always at the top of my class. If not for his dedication to us as students and the campus, I would have lost faith in my abilities when I started the Graphic Design program two years ago. It is impossible as an educator to engage 100 percent of your students, but the goal is always to come as close as you can. So far, he's the closest I've ever known. A work horse and a reliable source, Chafe does more than instruct. He is there to support us."
Kathy Kerstetter said she was honored that students took the time to vote for her. "The faculty award meant a lot to me," she said. "I feel very honored. It's amazing to know what students are thinking." Kathy used to work in the medical device industry and said she's so glad to have found Kalamazoo Valley. "I have never had so much fun in my career," she said. "It's a really great environment. Instructors go the extra mile and really work together."
One of the students who nominated Kathy said, "Mrs. Kerstetter is a great teacher. She was born for a position like this. I have never had an instructor who used such real life situations and talked to me like I was already educated. Her class was far from easy, but tested our abilities. When I had Mrs. Kerstetter, I was going through an incredibly hard time and she pushed me not only to do my best academically, but in my life overall. I haven't had her in over a year, but I still use her lessons. . . Ultimately she has helped me to be better and to do better."
Nicole McClure said receiving the award means the world to her. She said she knows that many of her students are parents with jobs who are working to better themselves. Her students inspire her to continue teaching. She also said she thinks Kalamazoo Valley is an exciting place to be, with motivated students and innovative instructors.
One of Nicole's students said, "Mrs. McClure is an outstanding instructor. I am seeking second Bachelor's degree and I've had a lot of catching up to do with math. I had Nicole as an instructor previously and I achieved a 4.0 in that class. I'm currently holding an 88 percent average in my current math class with her. She instills confidence in everyone. She is very methodical in her approach to math and gives step by step, easy to understand instructions. More importantly, she takes a sincere interest in every student and is always available for extra instruction and guidance. She is easy to approach and talk to. By far, Nicole has been the very best math instructor I have ever had. . ."
Jeff Shouldice said he feels fortunate to teach at Kalamazoo Valley. "It's been a great place for me to work and be involved with other people," he said. He said he likes being part of a forward-thinking institution. "I develop every day here as an instructor," he said, "It keeps me young."
A student who nominated him said, "Mr. Shouldice is, by far, the best teacher I have had in my entire school career. His classes are not only very entertaining, but when I leave, I feel like my time was well spent and that I learned a great deal. The way he presents materials makes it very easy to comprehend and retain. He uses humor, examples from the text, as well as his own personal experiences from the field to show multiple angles on topics to make sure we see all of the intricacies. . . "
Mary Walter also received glowing recommendations. One student submitted this comment, "I have had Mary for two classes and she is the most caring and knowledgeable professor I have ever had. She takes the time to get to know her students and is always trying to find ways to help make our experience a better one. She truly cares about how we are doing and only wants the best for each of us. She plans her curriculum in a way that every learning style is used, and also gives us the opportunity to determine what our learning style is. . . I would love to say that her courses are easy, but they are not. She has use work for our grades but if we didn't we wouldn't be learning the vital information we need to succeed in our future careers . . ."