Has a teacher changed your life? Let them know: Nominate them

Is there a teacher whose positive impact resides within you? A teacher who changed the course of your studies — and perhaps the course of your life? Are you struggling to find something commensurate to your gratitude?

Look no further. Nominations for the Excellence in Teaching Award are underway. With a few simple clicks of the mouse, you can nominate an incredible teacher for this prestigious award, described by recipient Susan Barkley as “the greatest honor I’ve ever had.”

Barkley, executive dean of World Languages, Cultures and Communications and recipient of the 1999 award, further extolled its symbolism and value.

“It means more than you can ever imagine,” she said. “It’s the greatest honor I’ve ever had because it came from my students.”

Any professor or teacher can be awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award: Full-time faculty, adjunct faculty, continuing education, or staff and administrators who teach. To be eligible for the award, a faculty member must be nominated by a student or colleague. This can be done online at www.richlandcollege.edu/excellence. Nominations close in March.

The process itself is quite simple: Fill out an electronic form with your name, phone number and email address, your professor’s name and the outstanding class in which you partook, then write a short paragraph explaining why this professor deserves this distinguished honor.

There is no essay required, so don’t worry about perfection. Once nominated, professors have their work cut out for them. Samantha Alkadi, a workforce ESL instructor and recipient of the 2018 award, described the process as “pretty intense.”

All nominees are required to compose a document describing their teaching philosophy and to submit it to the selection committee. In the end though, it’s worth the effort. A prime parking spot and $1,000 educational grant await the award recipients each year.

Barkley, who taught French at the time, used her grant to bring a speaker to Richland.

As for the more material, temporal benefits, Alkadi said, “It is nice to have the parking spot. I know I don’t have to spend an extra five or 10 minutes looking for a parking spot in the morning.”

Barkley, when asked if professors have auctioned their parking permits to eager students, laughed and replied, “Oh, I don’t know! I’ve never heard. I’ve heard people sometimes give it to someone else.”

Yet for all the honor and glory, Alkadi stressed “Teaching is not about awards. My awards [for] teaching are a student coming in and telling me ‘I was able to talk to my children’s teachers and I don’t need a translator anymore.’”

“As a teacher, it’s our job to motivate our students”— not to focus on winning awards and recognition. It’s nice to be recognized, but at the same time the real rewards of teaching aren’t awards,” she said.