NSCC students recognize 11 faculty members for online teaching excellence

BLOUNTVILLE — When Northeast State Community College transitioned to online classes April 6 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty members were tasked to reimagine the learning experience for students.

More recently, students recognized top faculty members who excelled in online instruction during the challenging spring 2020 semester.

Under the guidance of the Office of Academic Affairs, students participated in a survey to nominate faculty members who best seized the moment to make online learning impactful and relevant.

“We thought it was a nice way to honor faculty by letting the students voice their appreciation for efforts that were outstanding under difficult circumstances,” said Connie Marshall, interim vice president for Academic Affairs. “There’s no greater satisfaction for an instructor than to know you’ve made a difference in a student’s life.”

The survey brought 308 nominations from students with 127 faculty members receiving recognition. From these totals, the top 11 nominees were chosen to receive a certificate and NSCC promotional items.

Recognized for excellence in online instruction were Kristen Cornett, instructor of computer science; Dr. Louise Dickson, professor of English; Dr. Teressa Dobbs, assistant professor of college and lifelong learning; Tabetha Garman, associate professor of history; Sarah Hill, instructor of biology; Dr. Brent Lockhart, professor of biology; Tom McNeil, associate professor of biology; Elizabeth Sloan, associate professor of theater; Derrick Thacker, associate professor of mathematics; Liza Waldroupe, instructor of nursing; and Mike Zimmerman, associate professor of biology.

Here is a sampling of comments from student submissions:

— “All of my instructors did an outstanding job transitioning online, but I feel this instructor went above and beyond. She always made a point to keep in contact with our class through email or announcements in D2L. I’ve never once had to wonder what the assignment is, where we are in the book, or what we are learning about. Every resource that we might need to be successful during this transition, she made sure was available to us, including herself.”

— “He goes above and beyond his call of duty, hosting multiple Zoom lectures and study groups five times a week, and allowing students access and follow-up for extra assistance via his email and phone. He has promoted an atmosphere of positivity, optimism, encouragement, and most of all support. During this time of distance and separation, he has maintained a bonded connection to his students.”

— “She has put forth a huge amount of effort in order to ensure her class is actually learning and not merely doing the work required for the grade. She had made lecture videos, she has sent us countless links to outside sources, she has made extra study guides, plus she is coming up with creative solutions to the issues of conducting online lab classes along with lectures! She is hands down the best teacher I have ever had.”

Here are comments from two faculty members about the honor:

Tom McNeil, associate professor of biology

“I am just happy that my students found the recorded lectures helpful. That was a brand new avenue of instruction for me. But it is really the students that should be commended. Many of them were presented with unexpected and quite diverse challenges during this period ... and they stood up to those challenges! I think we all learned a lot this semester.”

Elizabeth Sloan, associate professor of theater

“This is my first online teaching experience, so I am incredibly proud of this recognition. I love that this comes from the students. They have had enough on their plate during this tremendous time of change, and the fact that they took the time to give me a shout-out is so very cool. This may be my favorite recognition I have received.”