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Palo Alto recognizes teaching excellence

By Justin Overmiller | Pulse Staff Reporter

Dedication, excellence, resolve and honor are some of the qualities nominees must have in order to be selected for the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) as well as the Piper awards.

“It’s like winning an Oscar,” said previous NISOD award-winner Diane Lerma, instructor of Reading at Palo Alto College.

The NISOD is an award that faculty and staff obtain by being chosen as a nominee by their peers. Five NISOD awards will be handed out this year: Teaching Excellence for Dedication and Persistence, Teaching Excellence for Innovation and Creativity, Teaching Excellence by Librarian or Counselor, Teaching Excellence by Adjunct Faculty-Daytime and Teaching Excellence by Adjunct Faculty-Evening/Weekend. The NISOD program was started in 1978 at the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Education.

“The NISOD committee is made up of all the previous NISOD award members. They get together and select nominees for the NISOD award the following year,” said Ann Bolton-Brownlee, the chair of the committee and winner of the Teaching Excellence by a Librarian or Counselor Award last year.

“The NISOD award is there to recognize the people who go above and beyond. There are a lot of good teachers here at Palo Alto College, but we wanted to recognize the ones who will go out of their way to make teaching interesting,” Bolton-Brownlee said. “My favorite nominees were the professors of Music. When they submitted their applications, they also submitted a CD of their music.”

The Winners of the 2012 NISOD Awards are as follows:

Teaching Excellence for Innovation and Creativity: Patrick Lee, Department Chairman, Mathematics, and as a group Dr. Armin Marmolejo, Assistant Professor of Music; Juan Ortiz, Instructor of Music; and Juan Tejeda, Instructor of Music -Fine and Performing Arts/Speech Communication.

Teaching Excellence for Dedication and Persistence Weldon Riggs: Instructor, Agriculture/Horticulture, and Laurie Ann Guerrero, Full-Time/Temporary Faculty, Instructor in Creative Writing, English.

Teaching Excellence by Adjunct: Joseph Coppola, Full-Time/Temporary Faculty, Speech.

Teaching Excellence by Adjunct Faculty-Evening/Weekend: Ronnie Brannon, Logistics Project Coordinator, Logistics.

Teaching Excellence by Librarian or Counselor: Cynthia Sanchez, Librarian, Library.

Teaching Excellence for Dedication and Persistence-Staff: Yvonne Richardson, Instructional Skills Specialist, Reading.

“The NISOD award is within the college, but the Piper Award is regional. It’s on a whole other level,” said Ann Bolton-Brownlee.

The Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation gives 10 annual awards of $5,000 to professors for superior teaching at the college level. Selection is made on the basis of nominations submitted by each college or university in the State of Texas. The winners will be announced May 1, 2012. Starting in 1958 with eight awards, the roster of Piper Professors includes outstanding professors from two- and four-year colleges and universities, both public and private. Who at Palo Alto is worthy enough to be nominated for such an award?

“Our very own Dr. Denise Barkis Richter,” said Carolyn Delecour, assistant professor of Speech in the Fine and Performing Arts/Speech Communications Department.

Richter is a Communications professor who graduated from Trinity University, the University of Incarnate Word and the University of Texas at Austin. She is chair of the college’s Go Green! ¡Viva Verde! Committee and co-chair of the college district’s Sustainability Council. Richter has led multiple study abroads, and she has a blog of fun things to do and see in the Alamo City at sanantonio

Bolton-Brownlee mentioned Richter’s involvement in starting the college’s recycling program and helping Palo Alto win the 2010 Air Quality Stewarship award.

”She does a lot of things she doesn’t have to, and she spends a lot of time making sure those things get done,” said Bolton-Brownlee. ”I just hope Denise wins the award. She deserves it.”