At the 41st annual AMATYC conference, four exemplary teachers received the Teaching Excellence Award. This award is given in odd-numbered years to AMATYC members who are outstanding two-year college mathematics instructors. Teaching excellence is the main focus of the award.
The outstanding level of professionalism exhibited by each nominee made the work of the Teaching Excellence Committee very challenging. It is an honor to be nominated for this prestigious award and EVERY nominee is an outstanding two-year college mathematics instructor.
Each of the four awardees is very active professionally and has made important contributions to mathematics or mathematics education at a two-year college. Ongoing professional development and leadership characterize all of the awardees.
The four Teaching Excellence Awardees for 2015 are Oiyin Pauline Chow, Diane Koenig, ViAnn Olson, and Laura Watkins. Each awardee received a medallion from AMATYC, and a check for $500 from Pearson.
Oiyin Pauline Chow started as an instructor at Harrisburg Area Community College in 1984. Fast forward 31 years and she has achieved the rank of Senior Professor, having positively affected the lives of her students and colleagues. Her teaching excellence has been recognized with many accolades, such as the "Hall of Fame" and the "Outstanding Contribution to Mathematics Education" awards from the Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Excellence award, as well as being recognized for "Exemplary Teaching in Developmental Education" by the Pennsylvania Association of Developmental Educators.
Pauline has been an active member of AMATYC for many years. She is a flamboyant and frequent presenter at our annual conferences, as well as having served as AMATYC Secretary in 2009-2011. She is a consulting colleague for Project ACCCESS as well as serving on several committees.
Pauline's nominator stated that "Pauline is an outstanding educator who has spent her career dedicated to the goal of inspiring students to learn and love mathematics. She has worked tirelessly throughout her career to innovate, try new methods, produce new teaching materials, and bring together colleagues at the college, regionally, and nationally to continue to work toward improving mathematics teaching and learning for all students at the two-year college level."
Diane Koenig started her career at Rock Valley College in Rockford, IL as the Math Supervisor for the Personalized Learning Center in 1981. Just three years later after completing her master's degree in Applied Mathematics, she became the first female mathematics faculty member there. She has taught everything at Rock Valley - from beginning algebra to calculus and differential equations and linear algebra. Her nominator, Paul McCombs wrote “I have incredible admiration and respect for her and her teaching. As a mathematics educator myself, I have so much confidence in her teaching and effectiveness that I had my own daughter enroll into her classes...I knew Diane was an extraordinary teacher, and while my daughter was enrolled in her classes, she raved about Mrs. Koenig's teaching style and how she was able to explain difficult concepts in a succinct and meaningful way that my daughter could understand."
Outside the classroom, Diane has been very active in the Illinois affiliate, IMACC, and AMATYC, currently serving as editor for both newsletters, the IMACC ConneXion and the AMATYC News. In 2001, she received a Certificate of Appreciation for her service to IMACC. She is a presenter at both IMACC and AMATYC conferences and serves as an affiliate delegate to AMATYC's delegate assembly. She also is very active in the Northern Illinois Association of Teachers of Mathematics, an NCTM affiliate.
In addition to the 2015 AMATYC Teaching Excellence Award, Diane has previously been awarded the NISOD and IMACC teaching excellence awards in 2005 and 2015 respectively.
Like many others, ViAnn Olson started her career by teaching mathematics at the high school level and then came to Rochester Community and Technical College in 1988. According to her summary of student evaluations, if you ask her what math she teaches, she will reply that she teaches students who dislike math. Her schedule routinely has liberal arts math classes and courses for the elementary education majors, as well as a variety of other courses.
ViAnn's nominator, Brenda Frame says "So often, I hear a student say that they had Dr. Olson as a teacher and she was tough and insistent that they meet the goals of the class, and then they would say she was the teacher that taught them the most: how to study, how to learn to get the most out of the class, how to remember what they learned, how to apply to practical life-time examples, how to expand their knowledge and go on with more mathematics than they had ever planned to do. Sometimes they changed their major, after having the courage to go on, as it opened the door to more possibilities, more career changes, and eventually more job satisfaction."
She also has been recognized in 2009 as the Outstanding Educator from the Rochester Area Math Science Partnership and in 2014 as the recipient of the MinnMATYC Distinguished Teaching Award.
ViAnn's involvement extends beyond the classroom. She is active in MinnMATYC, serving in the presidential cycle as well as newsletter editor. ViAnn serves as a mentor through MinnMATYC's Student Mentoring program for future teachers. She is a frequent presenter at MinnMATYC, and has attended other professional conferences such as those for AMATYC, MNADE, and NCTM.
Laura Watkins, has been a mathematics educator at Glendale Community College since 2002, teaching developmental as well as the upper level mathematics courses. She is adept at developing and using many different ways of presenting material to her students, including instructional technologies, chat rooms, and group participation.
Anne Dudley, her nominator notes that "Dr. Watkins understands her role as a teacher, and this puts her in a position to not only empower her students with profound understandings of mathematics but to also contribute to the math education community through mentoring new instructors and inspiring colleagues to improve their practice." She concluded her nomination of Laura by saying that "Dr. Watkins is an excellent teacher, leader and citizen of the mathematics community. I believe that her teaching accomplishments, her contributions to AMATYC through activities that aim to promote excellence in teaching and Project ACCCESS, and her contribution to the development of local teachers make her an excellence candidate for and very deserving of the 2015 AMATYC Teaching Excellence Award."
Laura is the Immediate Past President of ArizMATYC and a frequent workshop presenter at their conferences. Her first taste of AMATYC was when the annual conference was held in Phoenix in 2002. She was in Cohort 1 of Project ACCCESS and now is the program's coordinator. Her involvement in AMATYC continues with membership in a number of committees.