Patrick & Henry Community College (P&HCC) recognized three instructors for the significant impact they have had on their students. The recent awards were the Teaching Faculty Member of the Year Award, the Distinguished Faculty Member of the Year Award, and the Faculty Award for Professional Excellence. The recipients are nominated by their colleagues or students. Winners are recognized during end of the year celebrations and presented with cash prizes.
This year, the award winners are
Teaching Faculty Member of the Year: LaDonna Varner, English Instructor
Distinguished Faculty Member of the Year: Jason Worley, Biology Professor
Faculty Award for Professional Excellence: Randy Smith, Welding Instructor
Varner, who won the college’s highest award for instruction, was recognized for her ability to spread positivity and foster student engagement. One nomination for Varner expressed that she “relentlessly strives to encourage and foster leaders of our very own community.” Varner teaches traditional and dual enrollment courses while also guiding the development for new and expanding programs, working as the dual enrollment liaison, and serving as a faculty advisor for Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. She was also selected to teach a first-of-its-kind class that blends dual enrollment and traditional students as well as online and in-person learning.
Worley, who won the Distinguished Faculty of the Year Award, was recognized for not only contributing to the field through his research and publications, but also for the way he has mentored his students involving them in his research and publication work. Through his research and mentorship, not only has P&HCC been part of the discovery and documentation of four species never before reported in the area, but his students became co-authors in the professional publications for this research. Through his mentorship, these students have gone to gain more and more noteworthy research and publication opportunities.
One nomination said that Worley “sparks student interest in science and creates a thirst for learning.”
Smith, who won the Faculty Award for Professional Excellence was recognized for his unwavering dedication to his students’ success while balancing the considerable work required to prepare for the new welding facility that will be opening soon. He also frequently works with employers to connect his students with potential career opportunities. A nomination stated Smith “exudes a student-first attitude. He is very dedicated to affirming and showcasing student talent. […] He is a bridge builder from academic training to a student’s real world employment.”
The Teaching Faculty Member of the Year and Distinguished Faculty Member of the Year Awards presented by the P&HCC Foundation and are made possible by an anonymous donation. The Faculty Award for Professional Excellence is part of the Faculty Reward and Recognition Policy that was created and enacted by campus leadership and faculty.