Outstanding Faculty Award
Each year one full-time faculty and one adjunct faculty member at Jackson College is selected to receive an Outstanding Faculty Award. The recipients are chosen on the qualities listed below:
- Excellence in teaching techniques
- Maintaining superlative rapport with students
- Use of innovative and interesting approaches; and
- Complete sense of dedication consistent with the finest traditions of Jackson College.
Professor Diana Agy began teaching at Jackson College in 2006 and has taught all writing, literature and humanities courses. She created the Writing Fellows program, an advanced writing initiative. In 2017, she was named the Maher Endowed Chair for Regional History, recognizing her leadership of history projects that help students develop their research skills and learn about our local community.
Dr. Kristin Spencer
Dr. Kristin Spencer, professor and program director, came to Jackson College in 2010 to teach and coordinate the medical assistant program. She also chairs the allied health department. In addition to teaching, she has created several programs, including health administration/insurance specialist, allied health general studies, medical office support, phlebotomy tech, EKG tech and Electronic Health Records specialist.
Professor Ted Miller has taught for the College since 2002, after teaching in Japan for 14 years. He teaches several reading and freshman seminar courses, helping students better prepare for their college experience. He also chairs the Foundation Studies Department and has been active in developing the pathways initiative. Ted is a very active member of our Jackson community.
Assistant Professor Amy Leighton Gamel began teaching part-time as an adjunct in 2001 and became full-time in 2010. She teaches college reading courses, and improving students’ reading ability is a focus of efforts. Amy has presented workshops to fellow faculty on reading across the curriculum. She is a published author, writing about how to develop college readers and retaining first-generation students.
Professor Colleen Chadderton joined the nursing faculty in 1982 and taught for 32 years before retiring in 2014. She taught in the Practical Nurse Certificate program, the Transition Bridge program and the Associate in Applied Science-Nursing program at the College. In the community, she was affiliated with Head Start for more than 20 years, helping to provide physicals to children.
Jean Davis has taught in the medical assistant program since 2014. She enjoys helping students develop the skills needed to succeed, to develop confidence in their skills and enter the medical field. Seeing students become successful healthcare professional in the community, become Certified Medical Assistants, and even return to the classroom after graduation to tell current students all the hard work is worth it, makes the job very meaningful. She also receives the 2018 Trends in Occupational Studies Adjunct Outstanding Educator Award.
Instructor Greg Meschke has taught English and communications classes at Jackson College for 32 years. Though he’s been teaching three decades, his students continue to teach and inspire him. During his experience at the College, he’s taught under three presidents and with many faculty, all progressing the institution forward. New campus locations and new facilities continue to make each day exciting, but he says the bottom line is about what happens in class.
Cynthia Valentine began teaching music classes at Jackson College in 2013. She has been a public school teacher and traveled as a jazz singer, recording three CDs. After completing her bachelor’s degree and teaching certificate at The Ohio State University, she taught for 10 years in the public schools. Cynthia teaches Understanding Music and History of American Popular Music, and she makes her classes fun through activities like Jazz Jeopardy so students leave with a new appreciation for styles of music.
Mary Jo Kennedy
Mary Jo Kennedy spent 30 years as a police officer, and began teaching as an adjunct instructor in 2007. She teaches police administration, introduction to criminal justice, introduction to corrections, and crime and delinquency. She has helped to coordinate corrections training and also serves as student conduct officer. In the classroom, she enjoys seeing students learn and helping them see the world in a different light. She has written many references for students and celebrates each time one is hired.
Instructor Gedy Love began her career teaching middle school students, and in her retirement is teaching college students. She has taught a variety of courses, including technical communications, developmental psychology, introduction to psychology, education and early childhood, math, basic writing courses, stress management and wellness. Knowing what students really need and can benefit from, even if it goes beyond the textbook lesson, is important. She has also served as a college dean and chief academic officer.
Patti Benson began teaching business courses at Jackson College in 2000. Like the path of many of students, Patti once found herself in a job where she wasn’t happy, retail management, and decided to go back to college to do something about it. As an instructor, she taught a variety of business courses – leadership, management, human relations in business, contemporary business and more. She loves watching students achieve their goals.
James Ward Preston
“Mr. Community College”
The J. Ward Preston Outstanding Faculty Award memorializes the teacher, counselor, administrator, colleague, and friend who, more than any other individual, deserved the admiration of all who knew him. His thirty-nine years of dedicated service at Jackson Junior College and Jackson Community College (1931-1970) earned him the title of “Mr. Community College.”
Ward Preston received the Bachelor of Science degree from Hillsdale College in 1931, and the Master of Science degree from the University of Michigan in 1934. Upon graduation from Hillsdale he came to Jackson to teach in the natural sciences, holding a joint appointment between Jackson High School and Jackson Junior College until 1938. From 1938 until his untimely resignation because of illness in 1970, Ward Preston taught botany, zoology, anatomy, and other natural science subjects; served as volunteer Director of Athletics and acted as Alumni Secretary; became Dean of Men, Dean of Students, Dean of Faculty, Vice-President for Academic Affairs, and finally, in 1968, Vice- President for Student Personnel Services.
In 1970 the Board of Trustees conferred upon Mr. Preston the title of VicePresident Emeritus. The following passage is from the Faculty Resolution to the Board of Trustees recommending this status. No one in the history of the college has served it more wholeheartedly, and no one has endeared himself more to the entire staff as well as to the student body and the alumni. The faculty is privileged to have worked with him and [is] proud to recommend Ward Preston for appointment as Vice-President Emeritus. In 1989 the Faculty recommended to the Board of Trustees that the annual Outstanding Faculty Award be renamed the “J. Ward Preston Outstanding Faculty Award,” a fitting tribute to one who will always be primus inter pares, the outstanding teacher against whom all the rest will be measured.