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2018 - 2019 Excellence in Teaching Nominees


Dorothy Anderson Assistant Professor, Auto Mechanics, College of the Desert
Alison Airhart-Bolze Instructor, English as a Second Language, College of the Desert

Nominated by Zerryl Becker & Dean Papas, College of the Desert

In Fall 2018, Alison Airhart and Dorothy Anderson implemented a small-scale pilot to determine if adult learners studying in the College of the Desert's Automotive Technology Program might benefit engaging in supplemental basic English communication instruction within the automotive technology courses. Drawing inspiration from the Integrated Basic Skills and Education Training (iBEST) model that has been so successful in other districts, Airhart and Anderson spent Spring and Summer 2018 preparing for the launch of the Fall 2018 pilot, planning instructional strategies and developing additional support modules to enhance students' ability to develop critical vocational skills in writing and workplace communication. Further, the team attended professional learning community meetings both online and in-person to cultivate a greater understanding and adoption of promising practices that are shown to impact student success and cultivate a strong pipeline to careers and academic pathways. As a result, the course saw an increase in student course completion and total course grades, specifically in the areas of vocational English, research, communication, and writing. In Alison's word, they were able to "kill two birds with one stone" and find appropriate and effective ways to equip students with industry skills and knowledge while simultaneously educating students in speaking, grammar, listening, reading and writing skills that can be immediately applied in the workplace. When they began the integrated instructional model and an Automotive Brakes course, the challenge Alison faced was what her role as a co-teacher in an automotive class would be and how would she get the students to buy in to the fact that soft skills are equally important to success in the workplace as the automotive skills. In the first semester they launched the integrated teaching model, there was a huge learning curve for both the students and the instructors. Alison identified student weaknesses that she had not anticipated. For example, she found that students lacked critical thinking skills needed to find information, lacked computer skills needed to complete repair orders, lacked research skills needed to find data related to diagnosing automotive problems, and lacked appropriate language skills needed to handle customers. These challenges were overcome as Alison and Dorothy began working as a team. Alison began implementing role-playing opportunities to teach students how to handle customers. Alison began studying appropriate vocabulary related to customer service, and using tools to create resumes and job searches related to the industry, all while Dorothy instructed automotive skills such as how to resurface rotors, or how to remove and rotate tires correctly. The students recognized the value of both content and support instruction they received and they quickly learned to come to both Dorothy and Alison for help, The pilot has continued in Spring 2019 to understand the longer-term impacts on students, and possibilities for further formalizing the program to create a pipeline to college and career success for students who may need additional support in terms of workplace basic skills and English language proficiency. This integrated teaching model efficiently covers student-learning outcomes and expedites acquisition of skills needed to transition into the workplace.

Sarah Burnett Professor, Early Childhood Education, Norco College

Nominated by Debra Mustain , Norco College

Dr. Sarah Burnett is an exemplary CTE Educator demonstrating excellence both within her discipline and throughout the college and community that she serves. Sarah has been an employee of the Riverside Community College District since 2005. In her current role as a Professor in Early Childhood Education, Sarah is responsible for the development of curriculum, engagement with industry partners and for establishing work-based learning and transfer programs from certificate completion through four-year degree attainment. Sarah's strengths include her willingness to share her expertise at all levels, including work with colleagues on development of high-quality assessments and with students learning how to work with young children. Her colleagues cite her outstanding work as a mentor. Both colleagues interviewed for this application shared that she took time with them to personally help them to learn how to effectively work in a community college setting, and also highlighted the mentoring that she has done with countless students. Examples of quotes from students about Dr. Burnett include: "I took Dr. B's class in the summer and I loved it. She's very clear in what she expects and wants from her students. I can’t wait to take more of her classes in the future!!" "I took Burnett's online course and I actually learned a lot. She’s extremely kind and understanding which I appreciated very much. You can tell she really cares about her students and making sure they understand the material. Great professor, great course!" Sarah's commitment to excellence goes beyond the classroom to include the college and community that she serves. Sarah is active in the participatory governance process at Norco College. Sarah has also served as a leader in the development of assessment for accreditation purposes, and acts as a strong advocate for Career and Technical Education on committees and in a variety of campus meetings. She has developed strong partnerships with key stakeholders in the community, including industry and other educational institutions through regular advisory meetings, completion of collaborative grant applications and development of new internship sites. Sarah's students have regularly gained employment ager completing internships, with employers citing the quality of applicants from Sarah's programs as a reason for hiring her students. Sarah was also instrumental in getting $5 million dollars in one-time funding for a new Early Childhood Education Center through Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes's office in 2018. Most recently, Sarah helped to lead a collaborative application to create a new Early Childhood Education Apprenticeship Program that if awarded, would increase access for employers and students to a strengthened pipeline of highly skilled and educated early childhood educators. Thank you for your consideration of Dr. Sarah Burnett for the Excellence in Teaching Award. Her commitment to the profession of teaching and the discipline of Early Childhood Education is extraordinary. Her teaching and mentoring of students in the region results in more high-quality care for young children across our service area.

Berchman Kent Melancon Faculty, San Bernardino Valley College

Nominated by Larry McLaughlin

Over the past two years working with Kenny, he has demonstrated the desire to incorporate advanced vehicle technologies in his program and the drive to get the funding and donations to acquire them. He has developed and implemented new curriculum for teaching these advanced technologies to the skill benefit of his students and secured new partnerships in the region's transportation industry that will lead to student employment opportunities. Through Kenny's leadership, his department and the college have positioned themselves to be the Inland Empire provider of technician training on new generation engines endorsed by state and regional air quality agencies.

Brian Packer Associate Faculty, Barstow College

Nominated by Sandi Thomas

Brian Packer is one of our Associate Faculty members for our Welding Technology program. He has also taught Industrial Maintenance Mechanic Technology with us. Having the ability to teach cross-disciplines is an asset as an instructor to Barstow Community College. He also is a current Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway employee so he brings current and local industry knowledge to the classroom. He has helped to develop curriculum including our pipe welding courses and converting the classes to be offered in a hybrid format. He has also assisted in aligning welding curriculum with new subject matters like mechatronics and electronics. He does a lot of the day-to-day operations of the welding shop in the absence of a full-time faculty member. He assisted with building the BNSF welding shop which we built in 2018 to provide welding certification to BNSF employees. Brian is generous with his time and is always willing to help out in any capacity.

Mark Williams Associate Professor, San Bernardino Valley College

Nominated by Berchman Kent Melancon

Mark Williams’ reputation and accomplishments in the classroom are inspiring. He is dedicated to teaching and he always puts his students first. He not only teaches his students the skills needed to successfully enter the workforce in the Auto Collision Repair field, he helps instill skills to move forward in life. Mark’s cheerful attitude is contagious and students always come back to visit. Marks ambitions, intelligence, and accomplishments fit precisely with the stellar community of past recipients and make him highly deserving of the honor and opportunity bestowed by the Excellence in Teaching award. It is a privilege to have an opportunity to work with this exceptional individual.