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Four faculty members honored for excellence
May 31, 2013
Four Community College of Rhode Island faculty members were recognized this week for improving the college inside and outside of the classroom with innovations and dynamic projects.
The National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence Awards are given each year to community college employees across the country who exemplify teaching and leadership excellence.
This year’s CCRI recipients are Associate Professor of Library Science Cathy Poirier, Nursing Professor Susan Sienkiewicz, Assistant Chemistry Professor Ann Omolo and Music Program Coordinator Audrey Kaiser.
The recipients attended the 35th Annual International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence, which NISOD hosted at the University of Texas at Austin this week.
All of the recipients expressed surprise and gratitude at their selection.
“It was surprising but I’m very excited,” Poirier said. “I understand that the conference is really good and I think the opportunity to speak with other teachers and instructors will be a good learning experience.”
Poirier is a reference librarian at the Liston Campus who also teaches a course on college research. She was on sabbatical this spring to work on a plan to develop and promote information literacy across CCRI’s campuses.
Poirier said she hopes that through the library instruction program, more CCRI students will learn the information literacy skills needed to be successful information seekers and researchers.
"We receive information today in so many different formats that if you don't have the skills necessary to locate and evaluate the information you need, you'll fall behind in today's society," she said.
Sienkiewicz is also using technology to help her students. She is an advocate of “clicker” technology, a small handheld device that lets students answer questions their professor poses. Her Dosage Calculations for Medical Administration class recently was featured in a Channel 10 news report on the technology.
Clickers have a variety of uses, Sienkiewicz said, allowing teachers to poll the class and make sure students understand what is being taught. She can even examine the answers to see if an individual student is frequently incorrect and needs extra attention.
“I find it’s a great way to engage students,” Sienkiewicz said. “It’s fun and it’s a technology that gives voice to the voiceless, those students who just sit back in class and don’t usually answer questions.”
Sienkiewicz began using clickers in her classes in 2006 and encouraged the entire Nursing department to adopt them. She gives demonstrations of the technology for her fellow teachers.
“They call me the clicker queen,” she said.
Omolo in the Chemistry department was recognized for excellence in teaching. “It is a nice surprise and I’m definitely looking forward to the conference,” she said.
Omolo has taught general chemistry, organic chemistry and the course Chemistry of Our Environment at CCRI for four years. She sits on the college’s Academic Advisory Council and Information Systems Advisory Committee and is a public disclosure co-chair of the college’s New England Association of Schools and Colleges Accreditation Committee.
“It is quite an honor and very humbling to receive the NISOD Award,” Omolo said. “Chemistry as a subject is kind of challenging for many people and being recognized for the positive impact I have on our students is very energizing.”
She added, “I promise to do all I can to make sure our students get the quality education they need to transfer and pursue whatever careers they desire.”
Kaiser is program coordinator of the music department. Besides her work as a professor of music theory, piano, voice, and music appreciation, she directs CCRI’s production of “Hello Broadway” each year. This large-ensemble production combines singing, dancing and live music
“Our main goal is to give our students the experience of a repertory cabaret,” Kaiser said. “They play with a large ensemble and learn singing, dancing, stage movement and vocal production.”
Some of the CCRI students from this production performed with the Fall River Symphony Orchestra this spring at Bristol Community College in Fall River. Kaiser arranged the music for this collaboration. She will take a sabbatical in the Spring 2014 semester to write more symphonic arrangements.
Like the other Excellence Award recipients, Kaiser said she was surprised by her selection.
“When I first opened the email I thought it was one of those ‘who’s who in education’ things, but I quickly realized that it was something more than that,” she said. “It’s a huge honor, certainly.”
CCRI’s past NISOD Excellence Award recipients are:
2012: Maureen Abbate, associate professor of English; Dr. Pranab Banerjee, professor of physics; and Jennifer Hurrell, associate professor of rehabilitative health.
2011: Dr. Richard G. Pendola, professor of biology; Dr. Raymond Kilduff, professor of psychology; Dr. Hillary Jansson, assistant professor of nursing; and Dental Health Professor Pamela Wood.
2010: Nicholas Alteri, professor of chemistry; Kathleen Beauchene, professor of English; Sharon Perkins, professor of radiography; and Beverly Pepe, professor of mathematics.
2009: Donna Medas-Patton, professor of dental assisting; Jeanne Mullaney, professor of foreign languages and cultures; and Dr. Denise Yordy, professor of biology.
2008: Kathleen Gazzolla, professor of dental health/hygiene; Teresa Squizzero, chair of office administration; and Susie Doris Swenson, professor of music.
2007: Dr. Paulette Osterman, professor of nursing; Rosemary Prisco, professor of English; and Library Science Professor Marla Wallace
2006: Catherine Johnson, computer studies professor; Lela Morgan, vice president for Academic Affairs; and Lillian Paterson, professor of human services.
2005: Dr. Philip Miller, professor of engineering and technology; Doris Aline Fournier, professor of nursing and fire science; Dr. Daniel Donovan, professor of criminal justice; and Kathryn Blessing, professor of library science.
2004: Dr. Luis Malaret, professor of biology; Dr. Kimberly Crealey-Rouillier, professor of rehabilitative health/physical therapy; and JoAnn Warren, professor of business.
2003: Dr. Eleanor Vanable, professor of dental hygiene; Donald Paquet, professor of computer studies; and Maria Mansella, professor of foreign languages and cultures.
2002: Mary Benton, adjunct professor of art.
2001: Carol A. Panaccione, professor of foreign languages; and Kathleen Shay, professor of nursing.