Remarks by Gina Garrett
Former student of Kathryn C. Wetzel
2011 Outstanding Community Colleges U.S. Professor of the Year
What makes a great teacher? Knowledge? Ability? Time? Dedication? Commitment? Compassion? High ethics? Leadership? Yes! All this and so much more! While many strive to these high standards, few achieve them. I have been blessed to have been taught by one who does!
I have known Dr. Wetzel for nearly 20 years. Personal friends first, I became her assistant nearly seven years ago and her student nearly five years ago. I was delighted to discover that the ethical, forthright woman I had known for so long was the same woman not only in our new relationships but across the board.
As her assistant, I have the unique ability to observe her with her students, faculty and staff. I have watched students come to her confused about difficult math concepts and leave confident in their understanding of the formerly impossible. I have heard students tell her of their acceptance into the university of their dreams or of their impending marriage or new pregnancy—for they know she cares for them not only academically, but personally. I have watched as she prepares students nearing graduation for real-world interviews, teaching them proper handshaking techniques and how to present themselves during initial and call-back interviews.
As Dr. Wetzel’s student, I benefitted from her love of education as she neutralized my fear of math. Never “good” at math, I had avoided a college major that required it. When I expressed a desire to “learn the language” of the department, she encouraged me to enroll in basic math. I will never forget how excited I was—or how proud she was—of my first-ever 100 percent on a math test! She continued to support me through beginning and intermediate algebra and was my instructor through college algebra and trigonometry. I can do math—because Kathy Wetzel believed in me!
But her passion for education does not end with her role as professor! As department chair, Dr. Wetzel encourages her faculty and staff to be the best they can be through personal and professional development and classroom observation. Even if they never take a class from her, students receive the benefit of her love of knowledge through her encouragement and support of their instructors.
In short, Dr. Wetzel goes beyond working problems on the board—she educates! Her dedication to education, but more importantly to the success of all students, drives her each and every day. I have had many honors in my life, but none so great as that of introducing to you Dr. Kathryn Wetzel, 2011 Outstanding Community Colleges national U.S. Professor of the Year.
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