Rochester Community and Technical College is proud to announce Jeff Lepper, Mary Shelerud, and Jennifer Kiehne have been selected to receive the College’s 2019 Outstanding Educator Award. Instructors were nominated by faculty, students, and staff, and completed an extensive portfolio of their work and accomplishments at RCTC in order to be considered for the award. RCTC celebrated these remarkable faculty at a reception on April 24.
The Outstanding Educators’ teaching portfolios are statements about who they are as instructors and makes visible their work in planning coursework, teaching, and improving student learning. Nominees’ portfolios are reviewed for teaching philosophy; content expertise and professional growth; teaching strategies and materials; standards of assessment of student learning and performance; and service to students, profession, institution, and the Minnesota State system.
Jeff Lepper, of Lanesboro, has been an English faculty member at RCTC since the fall of 2010. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Idaho and currently serves as the division chair of the English department.
Jeff understands the importance of creating a student learning environment that is engaging, challenging and safe. He values students’ time, input and hard work; empowers them to take control of their learning; and encourages them to take some risks. He is passionate about the mission of the community college and its diverse student body and embraces the different experiences of the students. The integration of these experiences in the classroom gives students the freedom to write about those things that are valued and important. Jeff firmly believes that in order to foster a positive learning environment, there needs to be mutual respect within the classroom, and that starts with the instructor. Through content and knowledge, he demonstrates an ability to communicate ideas to students so that they learn something that will translate into useful skills beyond the classroom. Jeff’s philosophy for education is that it cannot end at the door of the classroom.
Mary Shelerud has been a faculty member at RCTC since 2007. She holds a Master of Science in Nursing from Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wis. Mary understands the importance of adapting curriculum and teaching methods to meet the needs of students and utilizes active teaching strategies to engage students. By providing basic fundamentals and hands-on experience, students learn to become critical thinkers. Mary understands how challenging nursing classes can be and has developed a teaching style that meets the students’ learning needs. Mary sets clear goals and expectations, and through assessment, she measures students content knowledge and critical thinking skills.
Prior to joining RCTC, Mary held leadership positions in the healthcare field and brings the knowledge and expertise from these experiences into her classroom. Mary is actively involved with the National Council of State Board of Nursing and recently received certification as a Nurse Educator by the National League of Nursing. Mary is a member of the American Nurses Association and the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing.
Along with recognizing outstanding full-time faculty, RCTC also recognizes and appreciates the great educational experiences the College’s adjunct and part-time faculty offer students. This year’s Adjunct Faculty of the Year is Jennifer Kiehne. Jennifer engages the class and encourages active learning. She shares experiences from her time as a therapist to provide real world examples. Jennifer understands that tests aren’t the best ways to measure a student’s learning and instead gives critical thinking assignments each week. One of the nominators writes, “It is evident that not only does Jennifer care about us as students, she cares about us as people and our overall well-being. I always look forward to going to her classes because I know I will be learning in a supportive, non-judgmental environment.”
Portfolios for both full-time instructors, Jeff Lepper and Mary Shelerud, will be forwarded to the system-wide Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Teaching Review Committee. Up to 70 portfolios from Minnesota State’s 31 colleges and universities will be reviewed by the committee, which will recommend up to six Educator of the Year award recipients from the portfolios submitted. RCTC’s Outstanding Educators, their colleagues from across the state, and the Educator of the Year award recipients will be honored at a system-wide reception in April.
The Minnesota State Educator of the Year recognition program was initiated in 2007. To date, RCTC has had six of its faculty members honored with this prestigious, system-wide award.