Deanne Oppermann, chemistry instructor at Southwestern Community College (SCC) in Sylva, was named the recipient of the R.J. Reynolds Excellence in Teaching Award for 2012-2013 by the North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS).
Oppermann is known at SCC for embracing multiple teaching styles and incorporating mastery learning, the philosophy of providing more than one chance to demonstrate mastery of content or skill, into her courses. However, Oppermann’s passion for teaching goes beyond the classroom. Her passion for teaching is solidified by her interaction with students during the advising process and the countless professional development hours she logs to improve student learning and stay current in her field. Oppermann has been an educator at SCC for 17 years, with six years’ experience in the industry as a research chemist. She also holds a U.S. Patent based on novel chemical surfactants.
“It is with great pride that we recognize Deanne for this prestigious award. One of our primary goals at Southwestern Community College is to identify, attract and retain instructors who are knowledgeable, approachable and have a sincere passion for learning and the learning process,” says Dr. Don Tomas, SCC president. “We are all very proud of Deanne and thankful that she is part of the SCC team.”
The R.J. Reynolds Excellence in Teaching Award was established in 1985 by the NCCCS. Provided by financial support from R.J. Reynolds, the Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes full-time teachers who exemplify the highest standards of instruction and professionalism in the classroom, while also consistently demonstrating their excellence in service to their colleges and communities.
“I am humbled, honored, and excited to have been selected as the 2012-2013 NCCCS Excellence in Teaching recipient,” Oppermann said. “The true reward of teaching comes from making a positive difference in my students’ lives.”
Over the past few months, Opermann has worked diligently to organize documentation, collect letters of reference, and complete a series of mini-essays addressing seven different criteria required for the statewide award. After submission to the state review committee and several interviews, she was chosen as one of the five finalists for the award from a field of fifty-eight candidates, one from each community college in the state. Oppermann traveled to Raleigh for a finalist interview on December 14 and was notified on January 18, 2013, that she had been chosen as the 2012-2013 recipient of the R.J. Reynolds Excellence in Teaching Award.
“Deanne Oppermann is a superstar in the classroom. Because Dee has NEVER mistaken activity for achievement, every activity she connects with (and there are many) leads to something spectacular for the student,” says Cheryl Contino-Conner, director of Student Support Services and Honors Program at SCC. “As an instructor, an advisor and a champion of SCC's Honors Program, Dee Oppermann is simply the best when it comes to student service and teaching/learning at SCC. We are very lucky to have her, and I say that as a colleague and as a friend.”
Oppermann will receive an $8,000 stipend, $2,000 contribution to Southwestern Community College and a commemorative plaque.