Press release: GRCC faculty receive national excellence award

Kathy Mullins
Executive Deputy to the President and Board Liaison

March 29, 2013, GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Two GRCC Faculty members were awarded the John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Awards at the League for Innovation in the Community College annual conference in Dallas, March 10 – 13.

Each year, Grand Rapids Community College recognizes outstanding contributions to the College through the Excellence in Education Awards.  For these two GRCC faculty members, Diane Sparks, Professor of Education, and Dawn Cheikh, Adjunct Instructor of French and Arabic, that recognition has gone national.  

For Sparks, a 28-year veteran of GRCC, the League for Innovation award caps a long career of leadership and teaching excellence that includes time as both an education professor and the Director of the GRCC lab preschool.  According to Sparks, her passion for education began at a young age.
“I have been teaching since I could wrangle my little sister and friends into sitting and watching me use a pointer on the map on the wall in our basement when I was 10-years old,” she said.  “I am constantly challenged by the many learning needs that present themselves each semester, and it is those needs that have helped me grow and change as an educator.”

That focus on the needs of the students is a defining characteristic of Cheikh as well.  

“I care about my students first.  The subject matter is secondary,” she said.  “I try to make every moment we spend in class golden.”
Sparks and Cheikh were recognized during a special ceremony at the close of the conference and each received a certificate and medallion.  
The John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Awards were established in 2012 to recognize outstanding teaching and leadership by faculty at League for Innovation member institutions.

The GRCC Excellence in Education awards were established in 1989 to honor one faculty member and one staff member for his or her contributions to the College, higher education and the community.

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.