Congratulations to Kassie DeCorte, worthy recipient of the 2012 Carrington College ‘Commitment to Teaching Excellence’ award for Dental Health. Kassie is the Program Director of the Dental Assisting program at our Tucson,AZ ,campus.
Kassie is fairly new to teaching and to Carrington College, having joined us in May 2011 as an instructor, before being promoted to her current position in February of this year. Kassie featured in a Faculty Spotlight that went out in our October Newsletter – you can learn more about Kassie here. Kassie was nominated by the Executive Director of the Tucson campus, Antonio Thompson.
Antonio, why did you nominate Kassie for this award?
“Kassie truly emulates our TEACH values through and through; she is determined to be the best and see the best from each of her students and her local community. Kassie decided before she came into the PD role that she would have stellar communication with students, faculty and staff, and she has maintained that standard. Kassie has also developed great relationships off campus in the local community. Sites that hire our graduates know that they have quality individuals coming in, because of the work that Kassie has put into the classroom and into communication with the dentist offices. She is always willing to go above and beyond to help our students get into their new careers.”
Congratulations on this award Kassie, how does it feel to be recognized like this for your work?
“I actually just had this conversation with my Dean. I haven’t been in my current position for that long and for the longest time I felt like I couldn’t get ahead trying to get the program where I wanted it to be. But when I got the phone call about this award I realized that my hard work had not gone unnoticed. It was reassuring to feel that I’ve done what I need to do to ensure my students have a chance to succeed. Personally it’s an accomplishment; being recognized as part of a team that helps students turn their lives around and enter the professional world in a better place than they started from is very rewarding.”
What first inspired you to teach?
“When I went back to school to study Respiratory Therapy, I was trying to make huge changes in my life. I was a full-time student and a single parent at the time, and I was going through a difficult period. At times I wanted to give up but my instructors kept telling me ‘I can do it’, asking me to ‘stick it out’. Having them encourage me to stay the course when I wanted to throw in the towel made a huge difference. That was a big influence on my decision to teach – I wanted to be able to do the same for other people.”
Your teaching career is still young, but when did you know this was the job for you?
“I discovered early on that what I’d gone through in my life wasn’t as detrimental as some of the situations my students face. I had the support of my family and even though they were in another state, I could talk to them. Many of my students don’t have that support system. In those first few months I realized that by sitting down with my students, encouraging and guiding them, I could make a real difference – that was my affirmation that I had chosen the right path.”
What drives you forward every day?
“I was on vacation last week and yesterday, the day before coming back to work, I thought to myself ‘you know I’m really looking forward to seeing my students tomorrow! I haven’t seen them all week!’ I guess it’s the sense of feeling appreciated – having students come up to me asking me questions, and they often say nice things about me!
Graduation is this Friday [10/12] and seeing the change that these students make in such a short period of time from day one to the day they graduate is dramatic for me – knowing that I was part of it is a real sense of accomplishment. I’d say it’s that feeling of accomplishment and appreciation that drives me.”
This award recognizes excellence in teaching; what attributes does an instructor need to excel?
“I think in a career college environment like ours compassion is the number one thing. You need to be authoritative, but at the same time, you have to understand your students’ personal situations. Honesty and trustworthiness are important values too. You have to earn your students’ trust – many of them have the ‘you don’t know my life or what I’m going through’ attitude, but when I sit down with them and honestly tell them that I’ve been where they are, that helps them recognize that I’m on their side.”
What techniques do you use to engage your students in the classroom?
“My classroom will tell you that I try to bring in things that happen in everyday life so that they can compare them with what they’re learning. That way they can compare something that they can mentally see with what we talk about in the classroom or lab. When I use that technique I often seen the light bulb go on and they say, ‘oh yeah, I get it!’ I know it’s all about making them relate. Just this last week I was clambering on a desk one minute and kneeling on the floor the next to explain a concept – and they got it!”
When you get home to your family, what constitutes a good day?
“A perfect day is when nothing goes wrong, but that almost never happens! Just as long as my students are happy when they leave at the end of the day then I’m happy, and that’s a good day.”
Congratulations on this well deserved honor Kassie. This award recognizes your “Commitment to Teaching Excellence” and your ongoing dedication to your students. Your enthusiasm and passion for your job and your students continues to positively affect their lives.
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