2014-2015 Excellence in Teaching Award

John Lance LeeJohn Lance Lee, Instructor of Spanish and Coordinator of Faculty Development, is the recipient of the 2015 Excellence in Teaching Award. 

Lance’s teaching portfolio stood out because it demonstrates such careful thought and deliberate attention to the cycle of curriculum development. Lance does not simply teach Spanish to his students; he creates a learning environment that allows students to engage with language learning through real-world, authentic tasks. Lance has been instrumental in the development of Integrated Performance Assessments (IPA) in the Foreign Languages department. These assessments require students to demonstrate language competency in very real and meaningful ways, ways that may prove useful outside of the college classroom. In fact, one student wrote, “I was able to translate for a cashier at Wal-Mart. It felt great to be able to speak and understand the language, but even better being able to help someone.”

Lance’s all-encompassing, research-based teaching philosophy is designed to cultivate students as whole persons. This is evident in his interactions with students and colleagues around the world through social media as well as through his belief that happiness and success come from a state of mind and a choice. Students must learn to choose the perspective from which they will look at their life; they must choose for themselves to be happy and successful, smart and capable.

Finally, Lance is a staunch advocate of community colleges and the students they serve, calling them an “often overlooked gem in education.” His involvement with campus committees and initiatives like PRESS for Completion and Achieving the Dream coupled with his firm belief that good instruction starts with collaboration further emphasize his representation of the excellence Durham Tech exemplifies.


2013-2014 Excellence in Teaching Award

Kerry CantwellKerry Cantwell is the recipient of the 2014 Excellence in Teaching Award. Kerry, instructor of College Success, exemplifies the characteristics of excellence in every role she plays at the College, and she was chosen as this year’s recipient based on her unwavering dedication to student success, overwhelming commitment to the Durham Tech community, and outstanding approach to creative leadership.

From her work in the ACA classroom to her work with Study Abroad in the Dominican Republic, it is clear that Kerry’s commitment to students is informed by a deep understanding of their needs and a strong obligation to provide avenues for their successes at every possible turn. Kerry’s teaching philosophy is infused with a desire to see students develop as whole individuals and to be an advocate of and facilitator for that development. She states that “Students don’t change simply because of what we teach them; they change through their own discoveries. My job is to facilitate these discoveries.”  This philosophy is evident to even her students. One student writes in an instructor evaluation, “My ACA instructor has a positive view on life, and she has helped me understand that I am on the right path of doing what is good for myself that will enable me to become a successful person. She has guided me this far and every time I attend class, I feel more confident about the path I have chosen for myself.” This guidance toward self-discovery is, in part, what makes Kerry an extraordinary instructor.

Outside of the classroom and her direct work with students, Kerry demonstrates an admirable commitment to the development of this institution and her colleagues. She has served on numerous committees and teams and is often the organizer of (either officially or unofficially) or deeply involved in  many campus shenanigans, including the Durham Tech Community Circle (which brings us such campus favorites as Harvest Feast and Just Desserts) and the 2013 Campus Fund Drive Committee which brought us the hugely successful promotional video “Mission Possible.” When she is not organizing or getting deeply involved, Kerry is often the loudest cheerleader in attendance, and her distinctive laugh has been known to brighten a room.

Kerry will represent Durham Tech as its nominee for the 2014-2015 state-wide Excellence in Teaching award sponsored by the System Office.

2012-2013 Excellence in Teaching Award

Theresa Fine-PawseyTheresa Fine-Pawsey represents the excellence Durham Tech demands of its instructors, and she will represent the college well as its recipient of the 2013 Excellence in Teaching Award.

Theresa is described by her peers as having "boundless energy" and being "fearless" in her approach to using new techniques in the classroom and as a "first-rate critical thinker." Her students describe her as being "engaging" and "always encouraging us to think outside the box" and "able to identify in me something that could be developed."

When asked to develop a concept for the new HUM 212 Capstone course, her desire to make the course as meaningful and interesting for students as possible led her to develop Visual Literacy and the Graphic Novel, a course students are excited to take and rave about once it’s over.

She also encourages students to engage with each other and the outside world in unique ways that allow them to discover different perspectives. For example, as part of an American Literature II course assignment, Theresa took students to visit a Picasso exhibit at the Nasher Museum to interact with the art and make connections between the art and the literature they were reading in class, allowing students to synthesize material across disciplines. Theresa also makes a point to add case studies or real-world application aspects to her assignments so that students can see a direct relationship between school and life. These types of innovations in the classroom are the mark of a truly excellent instructor.

Outside of the classroom, she is an asset to our campus community. She serves as a faculty advisor for Spectrum (an organization advocating for and supporting LGBT people on the DTCC campus); has done countless TLC presentations to share her work with her colleagues; has volunteered to lead one of Durham Tech’s first ever CLIP (Communities of Learning, Inquiry, and Practice) research groups; has worked with colleagues to develop programs that enhance our community experience; has served as chair of Faculty Council; serves on the TLC Advisory committee; and has represented Durham Tech as a presenter at several state and national conferences.

2011-2012 Excellence in Teaching Award

Lynday Al-ShabliLyndsay Al-Shibli, instructor of Developmental English and Reading in Student Engagement and Transitions, is the 2012 Excellence in Teaching Award recipient at Durham Tech. Lyndsay was nominated by her peers for her innovation, dedication, creativity, and success in the classroom.

A colleague described her as "one of the most committed faculty members I have had the pleasure to work with in my eighteen years of experience. She has an innate desire to uphold excellence in the classroom, with committee work, and in all aspects of her job." Lyndsay is further described as a faculty member who is truly engaged and committed. "She is thoughtful in bother her preparation and delivery, and – most importantly – she is highly reflective, always looking for a better way to present material and create meaningful projects for her students.

In addition to her skill in the classroom, Lyndsay has served on numerous committees, readily taking on responsibility to move the work of those committees forward in constructive ways. She engages in continued professional development and has also assumed extra responsibilities by taking on board appointments and special projects within professional organizations. Lyndsay has been very active in the North Carolina Association of Developmental Educators, serving as Eastern Regional Chair and site coordinator for annual conferences and working as site coordinator of vendors at National Association of Developmental Educators conferences.

Lyndsay is described as taking what she learns and putting into action with integrity and perseverance. Furthermore, she is deeply invested in the success of her students and committed to creating classroom experiences that enrich their understanding of content while pushing them to learn new skills.

2010-2011 Excellence in Teaching Award

Lillie HillMs.Lillie Hill, clinical coordinator/instructor of Practical Nursing in the Health Technologies department, is the 2011 Excellence in Teaching Award recipient at Durham Tech. Lillie was chosen based on her outstanding commitment to her students, her unwavering dedication to the Durham Tech and Durham communities, and her creative teaching methods.

Lillie has worked diligently in her 14 years at the college to train and mentor students for careers in the field of practical nursing. She makes it her goal to help them understand that the LPN program at Durham Tech "is just the beginning of a lifelong journey of learning and personal growth."

In addition to her creative classroom teaching strategies, Lillie contributes to student learning and the college's service learning initiative by coordinating free prostate screening and breast health workshops at the Lincoln Community Health Center each year. Her students take blood pressures, perform blood glucose monitoring, distribute health information, and conduct basic workshops. She has led students in community health projects to benefit the Ronald McDonald House and Neal Middle School in Durham.

Students, colleagues, and community members have written fond letters to Lillie expressing their respect and appreciation for her dedication to student learning and to public health.

2009-2010 Excellence in Teaching Award

Julie HooverThe 2010 Excellence in Teaching Award recipient at Durham Tech is Ms. Julie Hoover, instructor of Geology/Physical Science in the Arts, Sciences, and University Transfer department. Julie was chosen on the basis of her outstanding commitment to her students, her unwavering dedication to the Durham Tech community, and her exemplary teaching methods.

Julie effectively leads and motivates her students by making connections between course material and her students' everyday lives. She illustrates lessons by explaining her professional experiences in the field of GIS and by planning relevant field trips to quarries and museums. Julie encourages her students by telling them that hard work and careful planning will enable them to achieve any goals they set. As an instructor of ACA 122, the College Success Course, she encourages students to take initiative in their education by researching degree and career options and getting involved inside and outside of the classroom. Her Great Dinosaur Debate each semester in the Historical Geology course fosters scholarship and helps students hone their presentation skills. Julie’s Geology students consistently recognize her enthusiasm, positive attitude, and creative classroom activities in course and instructor evaluations and in unsolicited thank you notes.

In addition to her successes in the classroom, Julie contributes to the mission of the college through her work with the Environmental Sciences Club and the Greening of the Campus Committee. Her commitment to service learning has resulted in a number of positive programs and initiatives on campus. 

For all of her accomplishments, Julie remains modest:  "The things that are most important to me in my teaching," she says, "are making people think about things differently, giving people new experiences, and being fair to everyone."

Julie Hoover is one of Durham Technical Community College’s outstanding faculty members. She will go on to represent the college in the state-level Excellence in Teaching competition in the fall.

Past Award Recipients

Tracy Mancini Xiomara Campilongo Gabrielle McCutchen Nathan Smith
2009: Tracy Mancini
2008: Xiomara Campilongo
2007: Gabrielle McCutchen
2006: Nathan Smith
Tracy Mancini Melissa Oakley Ockert
Kristin Smith and Stacey Whitlow
2005 Bonnie Tilson
2004 Melissa Oakley Ockert
2003 Kristin Smith (left) and Stacey Whitlow (right)

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