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
“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
“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.
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.