GRCC honors three employees with Excellence in Education Awards

Aug. 29, 2018 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. Grand Rapids Community College is honoring three employees for the impact their work has had on students. 

The Excellence in Education Awards were established in 1989 to honor GRCC employees for their contributions to the college, higher education and the community. Brian Daily, coordinator of the Business Tutorial Lab, received the faculty award, while Julie Spahn, an instructor in the English Department, was honored with the adjunct award. JaneAnn Benson, director of the Phyllis Fratzke Childhood Learning Laboratory, received the staff award.

"Receiving one of these awards is an especially meaningful honor for our employees because the recipients are nominated by their peers," President Bill Pink said. "The work that Brian, Julie and JaneAnn do changes our students' lives."

The students who come to GRCC's Business Tutorial Lab are looking for an academic lifeline -- one they find in Daily. His goal is to help students succeed not only with the assignment that brought them to the lab, but with all the classes they will take at GRCC. He also launched the Business Cafe series of drop-in workshops in which students learn about careers, transfer options and GRCC resources.

As an instructor in GRCC's Early/Middle College program, Spahn advocates for her students, making sure they can do their best work and encouraging them to take advantage of the facilities, programs and resources at GRCC. Colleagues say she constantly finds new ways to make her classes engaging and relevant to her students, whether it's having them write about a March Madness basketball game or creating a game to teach information literacy.

In addition to working with GRCC's youngest group of learners in the preschool program, Benson is an adjunct instructor in the Child Development program. She challenges both sets of students to do -- and be -- their best, colleagues say, noting that many of them return to seek her guidance even after they graduate. Her work in developing the state-of-the-art Phyllis Fratzke Early Childhood Learning Laboratory took her around the world to investigate best practices. Under her direction, the preschool was the first center to achieve a 5 rating, the highest possible under Michigan's Star Rating System.

Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for more than 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.

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