Grand Rapids Community College bestowed its Excellence in Education Awards at the college’s opening day ceremonies to kick off the 2012-2013 academic year. This year’s awards were presented to education professor Diane Sparks and Secchia Institute for Culinary Education operations manager Mike Kidder.
The award is the college’s highest recognition, and is given annually to one faculty and one staff member for his or her contributions to the college, higher education and the community. Each recipient receives a $1,000 cash award and a matching award goes to the GRCC Foundation in each recipient’s name.
“This award speaks to the quality of the individuals we have working at GRCC, and I am extremely proud of Diane and Mike,” said GRCC president Steven C. Ender. “The nomination process is a stringent one, and the fact that the nominations came from not just their peers, but from a cross-section of individuals from the GRCC community makes it that much more special.”
Among the award criteria categories outlined are respect for people and environment, responsiveness, integrity and diversity.
Sparks’ career spans 27 years at GRCC, the last 13 of them as an education professor. She also worked in the college’s preschool program, including six as the school’s lab director. Letters in support of her nomination included comments such as, “She encourages feedback from her students and is always willing to implement a new idea or change the way a concept is presented to help students succeed,” and “She helps future teachers understand the importance of including the community in the development of young children.”
Kidder is a GRCC alum and has worked at the Secchia Institute since 1991. His nominators described him as “…simply put – a model for excellence,” while another expressed how “No one gets less than his best; every event - and every individual - receives tremendous respect and effort.”
The families of both recipients made surprise appearances upon the announcement of their respective award.
Nominations for the Excellence in Education Award can be made by a current or retired GRCC employee, who must obtain 12 signatures – four within the department, four outside of the nominee's department and four others which can include retired GRCC employees or students. The nominator must also find one faculty member or student and one additional GRCC employee to write a supporting narrative on the official nomination form describing how the nominee meets certain criteria.
The College’s Academic Governing Council selects the Excellence in Education Faculty Award recipient. A committee representing staff selects the Excellence in Education Staff Award recipient.
Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for over 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several additional locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.