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Three TCC professors honored with excellence award

Three faculty members from TCC’s Norfolk Campus earned the inaugural 2012 John & Suanne Roueche Excellence Awards.

Don Averso, director of culinary arts, Peter Shaw, professor of business management and administration, and Gordon Whitman, assistant professor of psychology, have been recognized for their outstanding contributions to teaching, leadership and learning by the League for Innovation in Community College.

The League for Innovation in Community College is a consortium of more than 750 community colleges and universities worldwide. John E. and Suanne D. Roueche are leaders in the community college field and proponents of the idea that teachers have major responsibility for how students succeed in the classroom.

We chatted with the three professors, starting with Averso, who has been program head of culinary arts since 2005.

What do you enjoy most about TCC?

I enjoy teaching, because I can have an impact on my students’ lives.

Who are some of your mentors?

My wife is my go-to person when it comes to important decisions.

Describe your teaching style

I try to make a personal connection with every student. Once that connection is established and they trust me and believe in me, it is fairly easy to get them on board for their education.

What does this award mean to you?

I had no idea that my peers/administrators had nominated me for this award, so it came as a big surprise. It has been so great to be recognized for what I am doing in the classroom. It gives credibility to what I am teaching in a technical/vocational environment and is a real validation for my work.

What is the one ingredient you always have in the refrigerator?

My refrigerator is always full, but the one ingredient I have on hand is fresh chopped garlic. Garlic adds flavor to almost anything!

Peter Shaw, TCC’s Professor of the Year in 2010-11.

What do you enjoy most about TCC?

I appreciate the accessibility of the education to the populace. This is critical to the labor force of the region for economic development purposes. And we are a portal for students to go on to universities. I know, because I'm a proud TCC graduate.

Who are some of your mentors?

There are three mentors I'd like to mention They are Del. Cleaves Manning; George Pass, the college's second president; and John Massey, founding provost of Norfolk Campus.

Describe your teaching style.

I consider the final product in the classroom to be student learning, not my teaching. I like to use graphical presentations to get students involved with the material. I also use real-world examples that apply to the areas we are studying. I like to ask critical thinking skills questions to get students used to thinking on their feet.

What does this award mean to you?

This is indeed quite an honor. The award is important because it puts TCC on a national platform in recognizing teaching excellence and this is a critical accomplishment for the college. And the three TCC faculty named are all faculty from the Norfolk Campus and at this time, the only professors named in the entire Virginia Community College System.

Psychology Professor Gordon Whitman

What do you enjoy most about TCC?

The students are just incredible. It takes two to tango. The students want all the learning that you can give them. The students inspire me and I love the course. I’m constantly trying to tweak the course to see how it can be more exciting.

Who is your mentor?

Philip Zimbardo, professor emeritus at Stanford University. (TCC hosted a talk by Zimbardo in 2006.)

Describe your teaching style

I don’t lecture. I present information, and I interact with the class. It’s very much an interactive learning environment. They don’t know what I’m going to do because I don’t read notes or stand behind a podium. … I’m always interested in improving my delivery, even from class to class.

What does this award mean to you?

It’s really the capstone of my teaching career.

Each of the professors will receive commemorative medallions and certificates signifying their accomplishment at a conference in Dallas from March 10-13.