OCTC Honors Employees with 2022 Peer Awards
Owensboro, KY (01/10/2023) — The OCTC Peer Awards are nominated by the employees of the College, and the winners are selected by a committee of peers. All of the peer honors include an award of professional development funds.
The 2022 Quiet Hero Award was established to recognize employees who have an impact on others and who exemplify a servant's heart. This honor includes a $750 stipend for professional development. This year's recipient, Mary Durr, is the campus assistant running the switchboard and the mailroom. She has been at the college since 1995 and holds an associate in applied science degree from OCTC. She was named to the Super Sunday Hall of Fame in 2016. Durr's nomination described her as having a calm demeanor and thoughtful nature, providing a respectful and supportive work environment for everyone. She's the reassuring voice on the other end of the phone to lost folks, to those that may have lost something, and she always answers the phone with a smile.
The OCTC Pillar Awards were named to coincide with the college ideals of community service, workforce education, and readiness, fostering an approachable learning environment, and student advocacy. Each award includes $750 in professional development funds.
The 2022 Pillar Award: Community Service was presented to Allyson Sanders. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Arts from Kentucky Wesleyan College. Her nomination noted that besides being good at her college job as the Workforce Solutions Director of External Education Programs, she also excels at her other interests, including being co-owner of The Party Space Place in Owensboro. She has a passion for and commitment to non-profit organizations. She is an active board member of the YMCA, My Sister's Keeper, and Habitat for Humanity. Her talents and involvement often result in her being asked to speak at community events, and she always manages to add OCTC into everything she does. Her lively personality was mentioned as the perfect tool for empowering individuals in the community, just as it does her students.
This year's honoree for the 2022 OCTC Pillar Award: Workforce Education & Readiness is Mason Lanham, the assistant director of business operations for the Workforce Solutions department. Lanham has been at OCTC since 2017; he holds an MBA from Morehead State University, a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from WKU, and an Associate of Arts degree from OCTC. Lanham is also a member of the Greater Owensboro Chamber Young Professionals. Lanham's nomination described him as steady, reliable, friendly, smart, and relentless. In addition to these positive attributes, the nomination noted that he displays a positive attitude even during the most stressful times. It included that students specifically request that he advise them due to his never-ending patience and kindness. Lanham always volunteers to help and lend a hand. He shows up every day ready to serve others.
This year's recipient of the 2022 OCTC Pillar Award: Student Advocacy is Professor of Nursing Bethany Ebelhar. She began her career at OCTC in 2008. She holds a Master of Science and a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from Murray State University (MSU) and she attended Paducah Community College before transferring to MSU. She is a Registered Nurse with experience teaching a myriad of courses in the Nursing program.
Ebelhar's nomination noted that she is known to put the needs of all students and co-workers above her own. They added that her positive attitude and contagious laugh make her a joy to be around. Students have stated that her encouragement has had a positive impact on their education and learning experiences. Ebelhar loves being an educator and her commitment to the success of the department and the college is obvious in how she speaks of her experiences and how she tries to help the new faculty in her department acclimate to OCTC.
In addition, Ebelhar works as an NCLEX Review Nurse Educator for Assessment Technologies part-time and served as a reviewer for the Pharmacology and the Nursing Process textbook, published by Elsevier in 2020.
The 2022 OCTC Pillar Award: Fostering an Encouraging & Approachable Learning Environment winner is Shannon Collins, Professor of English and coordinator of the Associate in Fine Arts, Theatre program. Collins began her career at OCTC in 2001 and holds a Master of Arts in English, a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary English from Morehead State University where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.
In addition, she is a published author and was a finalist for the Joy Bale Boone poetry prize in 2015. Collins serves on the KCTCS English Curriculum Committee, the KCTCS Transitional Education Committee, she is the current Chair of the Committee for Promotion, and is on OCTC's Common Reading Committee.
Her nomination asserted that her leadership clearly aligns with diversity, equity, and inclusion and pairs that with real-life actions. Collins's desire to support Oak Island Theatre is matched with a desire to find all students a place on campus to feel welcomed, valued, and encouraged. Her heart is to create/maintain a space within the humanities department and on campus where students of any background may find a sense of belonging. That everyone has a safe place to enhance and nurture their self-confidence.
The 2022 OCTC Scholarship Award was established to recognize excellence in scholarly endeavors and includes a $750 award for professional development; the award was presented to David Wilson. Wilson came to OCTC in 2020 and is the Art Program Coordinator and serves as Director of the Dayman Gallery. He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Painting from Illinois State University, a Bachelor of Arts degree in Fine Art from Columbia College, and an Associate in Arts degree from Joliet Junior College.
Wilson also serves on the First Year Focus/QEP Committee, the KCTCS Curriculum Committee, and the OCTC Safety and Preparedness Committee.
His nomination described his leadership and enthusiasm as bringing a vibrant life to the Humanities department. They noted his efforts in working collaboratively with the Experiential Learning Center to refresh the Dayman Gallery. He has curated several exhibitions including graduation exhibitions for all AFA majors. He works with students, adjunct faculty, community members, and area colleges to curate exciting and engaging collections to showcase on campus.
The 2022 President's Award for Adjunct Instruction demonstrates excellence or innovation in the classroom or online instruction and receives a $1,500 award for professional development. This year's honoree Grae Greer, earned a Bachelor in Fine Arts degree from Marshall University in Theatre Performance and Production.
After her professional acting contract ended in New York City, she returned to Owensboro and worked to enhance the arts community in the region. Her courses at OCTC focus on Shakespeare, Technical Theatre, and Acting Techniques. She is deeply passionate about the connection between human development and the arts, as well as breaking the barrier that "imagination is only for kids". Greer founded Bluegrass Community Theatre in 2018, where she has the opportunity to connect, develop, nurture and advocate for theatre people of all ages, at all levels and abilities. She is also the Marketing Director and resident educator at RiverPark Center where she teaches art, costuming, and technical theatre classes for elementary through high school-aged students.
Greer's award nomination outlined her vital role in the revival of Oak Island Theatre in the post-COVID campus. It noted her energy, enthusiasm and continued work to advance the program through collaborations with local theatre groups, area high schools, the Bluegrass Children's Theatre, Encore, and the Riverpark Center. Her loyalty and heart for Oak Island Theatre and OCTC students are a testament to her extraordinary devotion and efforts to enhance student learning and experiences.
The 2022 President's Award for Teaching recognizes excellence in teaching and receives a $1,500 award for professional development. This year's honoree, Francis Martin "Marty" Higdon, is an associate professor of Electrical Technology, holding a Bachelor of Science in Systems Management from WKU and an Associate in Applied Science in Electrical Technology from OCTC.
He began his teaching career in 2012. Before teaching at OCTC, Higdon held various positions in manufacturing, including field service support engineer and trainer, safety training coordinator, and safety, environmental, and health manager.
His nomination noted that he demonstrates a standard of high-quality teaching while providing flexible course delivery. His service to students is exemplary, and he consistently earns the "You Made A Difference" honor in the post-graduate survey. He advocates not only for students in the technical field but also supports general education. Students rave about his support and guidance in and out of the classroom. He consistently boasts the value of general education to his students and encourages his faculty peers within the general education department.
Owensboro Community & Technical College is one of the sixteen community and technical colleges that make up the Kentucky Community & Technical College System. OCTC serves the KY counties of Daviess, Hancock, Ohio and McLean. OCTC has three campuses in Daviess County and a Center and Annex in Hancock County. OCTC strives to serve the communities in the service area by providing associate degree education for transfer, state of the art technical education for students focusing on entering the workforce, customized business and industry solutions through the Workforce Solutions division, and adult education and business and industry testing through the SkillTrain unit.
The Kentucky Community and Technical College System is the Commonwealth's largest postsecondary institution with 16 colleges and more than 70 campuses. We also are Kentucky's largest provider of workforce training and online education. Through partnerships with business and industry, we align our programs to meet the needs of local employers. We help students fulfill their dreams of creating a better life through programs that lead directly to jobs or help them transfer to one of our four-year partners.
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