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February 25, 2004

Faculty Enrich Learning, Reduce Barriers With Technology

From: PRNewswire (press release) - USA - Feb 25, 2004

Massachusetts, Georgia Profs Receive National Recognition

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- In a national competition, two professors have been recognized for use of advanced technologies to enhance teaching and learning and expand outreach among minority, disabled, and other underserved students. The two will receive the 2004 David R. Pierce Faculty Technology Award, sponsored by Microsoft in cooperation with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

Kathleen Proietti, chair of the Computer Information Sciences Department at Northern Essex Community College (NECC), Mass., and Tonya Strickland, associate professor of English and reading, Waycross College, Ga., were selected in a nationwide competition among the 1,173 U.S. community, junior, and technical colleges. A returning adult student at NECC who worked her way from computer novice to head of the department, Proietti now uses advanced computer programs to reach out to English as a second language (ESL) and disabled students while championing a "paperless classroom" that reduces cost and improves performance. Professor Strickland is helping to bring both students and faculty at her small, rural college into the technology age, including the creation of an online magazine that incorporates writing, art, photography and digital recordings.

Designed to recognize exemplary teaching models, the Pierce award carries with it a $5,000 stipend for each of the awardees and national recognition at the AACC's annual meeting, scheduled April 24-27 in Minneapolis, Minn. The award is named in honor of AACC president emeritus David R. Pierce. "These outstanding faculty members are really creating the classroom of the future," said Diana Carew, Microsoft's Worldwide Program Manager for Higher Education. "To succeed in our society and in today's economy, all students must be given the opportunity to experience technology as integral to learning."

A single mom who worked full-time while attending Northern Essex Community College, Kathleen Proietti has dedicated her career to increasing opportunities for those with learning barriers. Her college is a Hispanic Serving Institution and the Regional Center for Gallaudet University, which serves the deaf and hard of hearing. She earned a master's degree in ESL and has become proficient in American Sign Language and JAWS, a computer software program for the vision impaired. Her student success stories include an unemployed blind student who came to the college with no computer skills who will graduate this spring with a 4.0 GPA in computer programming and a first- generation Hispanic student who parlayed his college class work into his own networking consulting company. In addition, Proietti piloted a WebCT enhanced computer applications course to encourage online learning that has grown to 25 class sections each semester, and she has made her Website a template for use by the entire NECC faculty.

Tonya Strickland brings her English and reading classrooms to vibrant, online life by challenging students to create original multimedia projects using the latest technologies. Projects include movies created in KidPix and published online; student-created Websites; advanced use of PowerPoint with hyperlinks, video and sound; and group presentation that use SmartBoards and Elmos. She also sponsored a technology-centered club called FoxPrints, which publishes an online, multimedia magazine that includes music students compose and record in her home digital recording studio. In addition, Strickland has used her technology expertise to mentor faculty not only at her own college, but also throughout the University of Georgia's 34 college/university system, preparing a generation of teachers who can use technology as a tool to enhance learning. With a goal of infusing area schools with technology to further education, she recently developed Waycross College's Center for Teacher Education and Technology Website to share her technology-powered lesson plans and designed a Writing for Teachers class that emphasizes the newest online publishing techniques.

In addition to the top winners, the award program will recognize 10 community college instructors as "Faculty of Merit." They include: Nancy E. Adams, St. Louis Community College, Mo.; Deborah Poropat, Moraine Valley Community College, Ill.; Sabri Bebawi, San Jose City College, Calif.; Debra Griggs, Bellevue Community College; Billy Hix, Motlow State Community College, Tenn.; Linda Morgan, Garden City Community College, Kansas; Phyllis Owens, Camden County College, N.J.; William Pellicio, Community College of Rhode Island; Lori Schmidt, Vermilion Community College, Minn.; and Mark Steidel, Diablo Valley College, Calif.

The American Association of Community Colleges represents the nation's 1,173 community, junior and technical students and their 11 million students. Community colleges are the largest sector of higher education, serving almost half (45 percent) of all U.S. undergraduates.

© 2004 PRNewswire