Fangman, Kruse receive Wekesser Awards

Kim Fangman and Dr. Illich
SCC President Dr. Paul Illich congratulates English instructor Kim Fangman.
CassieKruse
Cassie Kruse is an administrative assistant at SCC's Education Square location.
FacultyAwardNominees
Faculty nominated for the Wekesser Award are, from left, Dr. Katherine Zupancic, Ivette Trentini, Jill Sand, Kim Fangman, Dr. Mike Davis, and Carolyn Nolte.
WekesserStaffNominees
Staff nominated for the Wekesser Award are, from left, Will Vlasnik, Jessica Vetter, Mindy Marsh, Jessica Himmelberg, and Nicole Austin.

Kim Fangman and Cassie Kruse received the 2013-2014 Outstanding Faculty and Staff Wekesser Awards during a ceremony July 10 on Southeast Community College’s Lincoln Campus.

Fangman is an English instructor in the Arts & Sciences Division, while Kruse is an administrative assistant for the Arts & Sciences Division at SCC’s Education Square location.

“This was a great surprise,” Fangman said. “There are so many outstanding instructors on this campus that I was thrilled just to be nominated. I was astonished when my name was called as the winner. I’m very happy and proud that I’m part of SCC, and the recognition and award are humbling. My fellow nominees are all deserving of the award as well.”

Fangman, who is originally from Audubon, Iowa, and now lives in Elkhorn, said her teaching philosophy revolves around an “energized classroom.”

“I use plenty of engaged learning activities to motivate students to become active partners in not only the learning, but the teaching process,” she said. “I think of my Modern Fiction class as an example of this. Students come to class having read a short story or novel. The literature is sometimes challenging and unfamiliar to them, and they arrive with questions and doubts about their ability to effectively interpret the texts. I was an undergraduate literature student at one time, and I remember both the desire to have the instructor simply ‘explain’ the story to me and the boredom I felt when that happened! There were no epiphanies, no critical thinking, no pleasure in discovery; the teacher became the ‘expert’ and the student the note-taker.

“My classroom is modeled very differently. I ask students to participate in meaningful activities which allow them to explore the implications of what they’re learning on their own. I’m there to guide, question and challenge, but I stay out of the way as much as possible.”

Fangman said she is most proud of the students she works with every day.

“Both in the classroom and in my role as editor of SCC’s literary magazine, Illuminations,” Fangman said. “We have such a diversity of students here, and I see so many who are working tirelessly to improve their lives or kick-start their educations or careers while battling obstacles.

“I went to college at 18 and had few responsibilities beyond making it to class and earning good grades. The majority of my students are working part- or full-time jobs while raising children, balancing relationships and dealing with other personal obligations. I had an online student last quarter who was raising three children on her own, held down a full-time job, volunteered extensively at a local charity, juggled four classes, and maintained an A average in each one. Our students have guts and determination; how can I not admire that?”

Jeanine Jewell, fellow English instructor, described Fangman as “innovative, imaginative, thoughtful, and joyous.”

“Kim inspires her fellow teachers with her commitment and student-centered teaching,” Jewell said. “She is about to achieve the ‘Everest’ level of Engaged Learning Experience training for the second year in a row. I hope she soon becomes an ‘ELE Host’ so that more people across the College can learn from one of the best teachers at SCC. 

Other nominees for the Outstanding Faculty Award were Mike Davis, history instructor, Arts & Sciences Division; Carolyn Nolte, English instructor, Arts & Sciences Division; Jill Sand, Respiratory Care program chair; Ivette Trentini, speech instructor, Arts & Sciences Division; and Katherine Zupancic, psychology instructor, Arts & Sciences Division.

Kruse has served SCC in an administrative assistant role at ESQ since she began in January 2013. Kruse graduated from the Office Professional program last June.

“The nomination itself was an honor,” she said. “Since I wasn’t able to attend the ceremony, my husband told me I had won. I didn’t believe him at first. I even asked him again a little later to make sure he wasn’t kidding me. There are so many other people who deserve the award, people who help me daily. I’m extremely honored to share the nomination with such amazing people.”

Kruse, who grew up in Decatur, said her approach to her job is teamwork.

“My philosophy is teamwork,” she said. “Without the team, I wouldn’t be able to accomplish a job well done. I am just one part of the team. Every day it is our job to help others, and that’s exactly what our team does.”

Dr. Carolee Ritter, dean of the Arts & Sciences Division, said Kruse goes above and beyond in her job on a regular basis.

“One of Cassie’s most impressive and valued qualities is the way she treats everyone,” Ritter said. “Faculty, staff, students, community members. She treats them all with kindness and respect.”

Other nominees for the Outstanding Staff Award were Nicole Austin, loan analyst, Financial Aid Office; Jessica Himmelberg, admissions technician; Mindy Marsh, admissions technician; Jessica Vetter, administrative assistant, Arts & Sciences Division; and Will Vlasnik, Physical Plant custodial supervisor.

Fangman and Kruse each received $500 checks, a plaque, a balloon bouquet, and their names inscribed on a permanent plaque on the Lincoln Campus.

In fall 1979, Robert and Edith Wekesser established a fund in SCC’s Educational Foundation to recognize people for outstanding service to the Lincoln Campus.  

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For more information contact:
Stu Osterthun
Administrative Director of Public Information and Marketing
402-323-3401
sosterthun@southeast.edu