Every year at Truckee Meadows Community College, outstanding staff members are chosen to receive the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence Award, and attend NISOD's international conference held in Austin, Texas.
The faculty and administrative awardees have been selected for their exemplary contributions to fellow staff members and students.
The following Excellence Award recipients will attend NISOD’s four-day International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence from May 27–30 at the University of Texas at Austin:
- Meeghan Gray, PhD, Biology Professor
- Precious Hall, PhD, Professor of Political Science
- Haley Orthel-Clark, MA Psychology Instructor
- Joan Steinman, EdD, Director of Retention and Support Programs
- Brian Wells, MFA, Professor of Graphic Communications
TMCC President Karin Hilgersom, PhD, and Cathy Brewster, Manager of Professional Development will also attend the conference, and are scheduled to offer workshop sessions.
President Hilgersom will be presenting a highlighted special session at the Conference entitled “Leading in the Age of the World Wide Web: How Will Faculty Add Value to the Knowledge and Skill Chain and Who Should Make Sure That They Do?”
“I enjoy exploring teaching and learning practices that respond to changing dynamics occurring in our community and world, especially practices that can be scaled up and applied to large numbers of community college students,” said TMCC President Hilgersom. “For example, technological changes that can enhance college classrooms and web-based learning have really altered the way faculty teach and students learn. I hope to discover opportunities for faculty and staff, so that when they choose to participate in such opportunities, the administrative leadership team is ready to encourage and support these efforts.”
Other sessions will be offered by TMCC staff, as well.
Steinman and Hall will present the breakout session, “Helping Students Survive So They Can Succeed.”
The two have been instrumental in the Student Resources Committee at TMCC, addressing the needs of under-resourced students. The Wizard’s Warehouse food and personal items storeroom supports students with food and toiletries that they may not otherwise be able to afford. Hall also helped to bring the Poverty Simulation workshop to TMCC, and Steinman oversees a variety of programs, services and activities to assist students experiencing poverty.
Brewster is presenting “Responding to the Needs of Adjunct Faculty with an Online Certificate Course,” about a highly effective professional development course she pioneered.
“The success of TMCC’s Getting Results program will be shared—it was very well-received by part-time instructors and they have noted greater classroom participation and student achievement,” she said. “The program, which takes place across eight weeks in 10–12 contact hours, began at the College in 2014. Instructor and student success stories will be presented at the session, and materials offered that other colleges can use to replicate it.”
Psychology Instructor Haley Orthel-Clark will lead a roundtable discussion group, “The Science of Storytelling: Rationale and Strategies for Implementing Narrative within the Classroom.”
Brewster’s and Hall’s breakout session is entitled, “Getting FREE While Helping Students Learn,” highlighting a unique program that originated at TMCC.
FREE is the acronym representing Faculty for Radical Education and Enlightenment, a group of professors who lead cross-subject learning activities. Every year, they pick a unique central theme, sometimes controversial. Individual classes represent subjects as diverse as statistics, visual arts, and anthropology. Students complete projects related to the theme, and then come together as a large assembly to share findings and express viewpoints on the topic.
Facts about Faculty Awardees
Dr. Gray participates in the National Science Foundation Longitudinal study focused on professional development for science instructors. In 2016, she traveled to Peru to examine the tropical environment and human disease, bringing back practical experiences to share with her students. She has overseen STEM activities in the Success First, Summer Bridge Program for three years.
Dr. Hall is a recognized local and national political pundit. She serves as chair of the Student Appeals Board, and also leads a student retention initiative promoting the persistence of continuing students through early enrollment. Hall is the faculty mentor for TMCC’s Fostering College Success initiative. She is also an Advanced Placement grader for the College Board, a national nonprofit organization that offers the SAT assessment and Advanced Placement (AP) programs.
Instructor Orthel-Clark, MA, leads the undergraduate research course Psychology 275 at TMCC, along with the end-of-year Research Symposium, where advanced students demonstrate their scientific posters. She leads the faculty Curriculum Review Committee and is a Quality Matters (QM) peer reviewer, analyzing the rigor of online courses. Orthel-Clark was the first instructor at TMCC to teach Psychology 105: Introduction to Neuroscience.
Dr. Steinman has increased many student service offerings at TMCC—she has expanded enhanced wellness initiatives for students, and spearheaded the creation of a College suicide prevention program. She is a member of the institutional accreditation committee and is developing an assessment process and tool linking Student Services Division initiatives to the College's core themes.
Professor Wells is a leader of graphic communications education in the region, creating a series of continuing education workshops for Washoe County School District teachers. He works with leaders in Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs and was named the 2017 Postsecondary Teacher of the Year by the Nevada Association for Career and Technical Education (NACTE). He has been a character layout artist for “The Simpsons” TV show, and many of his students, who benefit from his experience, have gone on to highly-rated four-year schools and careers in the animation industry.
About the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development
TMCC is a member of NISOD, an organization dedicated to providing leading professional development for community and technical colleges. Its annual conference is sponsored by the College of Education, University of Texas at Austin. The first award ceremony to celebrate Excellence Award honorees was held in 1989. It took place following a nationwide study of teaching excellence by University of Texas at Austin. The event is now hosted annually, this year featuring more than 300 sessions on a variety of subject areas.
“I always walk away from these conferences with a renewed sense of energy and with lots of new tools for my students,” Gray said. “I’m always trying to improve my courses and these conferences are a great way to share and get new ideas.”
Faculty members at TMCC nominate colleagues for the NISOD Excellence Award, and it is considered an honor among the staff. For more information about NISOD or Professional Development at TMCC, please contact Cathy Brewster at 775-674-7965.