OTC administrators and trustees honored the 2020 Excellence in Education award recipients at the college’s monthly board meeting in November. Candidates were nominated by staff members and selected by a college-wide committee. Each winner was presented with a plaque and monetary award, made possible by a donation from the Turner Family Foundation.
“Since 1992, OTC has recognized outstanding individuals throughout the institution with Excellence in Education awards,” said OTC Chancellor Hal Higdon. “Congratulations to this year’s award recipients. We appreciate their dedication to our students and the college.”
OTC 2020 Excellence in Education award recipients
Full-Time Faculty Award: Rene Wade
The daughter of a contractor, Rene knew from an early age she wanted to work in architecture and design. She earned her undergraduate degree in architecture from Drury University, and worked for various architecture firms throughout her career – including one that designed O’Reilly Auto Parts stores around the country. In 2016, Rene joined the OTC faculty as a drafting and design instructor.
Adjunct Instructor Award: Dr. J. Michael Ferguson
Dr. Ferguson is a psychologist who specializes in public mental health education. Much of his work is focused on suicide prevention and mental health first aid. In fact, he founded a text counseling service that allows people in crisis to receive therapy via text messages. Dr. Ferguson teaches introduction to psychology and lifespan psychology at OTC.
Full-Time Staff Award: Jonathan Grindstaff
A former OTC student, Jonathan began working at the college full-time after earning his bachelor’s degree from Missouri State. Jonathan and his team work to integrate computer systems so they perform optimally for the college and the end user. A 15-year employee at OTC, Jonathan takes great pride in seeing students benefit from the technology he creates.
Part-Time Staff Award: Rita White, inclusion specialist
Rita is the inclusion specialist at OTC’s Early Childhood Education Center. She works with special needs children and their families to ensure their success in the classroom and beyond. A public schoolteacher for more than three decades, Rita taught elementary school and worked with the Parents as Teachers program before joining OTC.
Administration Award: Philip Arnold, director of instructional support
Philip worked in sales for 25 years before he began teaching OTC business classes as an adjunct instructor. Now, he is the director of instructional support for OTC Online. In this role, he supports faculty as they build online courses and content. His work, and that of his colleagues in online instruction, was instrumental during the pivot to remote education in the spring of 2020.