Quintet of CAC professors claim George Fridell/NISOD awards

PINAL COUNTY, Ariz. – Five of Central Arizona College’s gifted professors have claimed the George Fridell Excellence in Teaching Award and the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Award.

Each year CAC honors its outstanding educators, first in February with the institution’s Fridell Award, then again in May with the NISOD honor.

Central Arizona College’s standout professors for 2009-10 are: 

  • Debra Foster - professor of speech communication
  • Mary Kieser - professor of reading
  • Dr. Beth Krueger - professor of biology
  • Robert Randall - professor of agriculture
  • Deborah Primm - professor of mathematics

Formerly known as the President’s Award, the George Fridell Excellence in Teaching Award is presented annually in memory of Fridell who passed away several years ago.

His teaching methods may have been unorthodox, but to George Fridell it just made sense - common sense.

“His standards were extremely high,” Al Chew, a longtime Central Arizona College professor, said of his friend and cohort. “But he was always capable of elevating the understanding and performance of his students to those high standards.”

It is those standards by which Central Arizona College measures its top faculty.

Winners are chosen based upon their willingness to further their own knowledge; engage and support students and student knowledge; use a variety of new concepts and teaching methods; and participate in the college’s community activities.

Recipients must meet the following criteria: 

  • Demonstrate excellence in the teaching/learning process
  • Be actively involved in student learning (inside and outside the classroom)
  • Demonstrate use of a variety of teaching methods
  • Actively and successfully integrate technology in the classroom
  • Actively demonstrate innovation, which facilitates student learning
  • Incorporate into the classroom the concept that students have different learning styles
  • Be active in institutional, campus and division activities

The announcement of the George Fridell Award winners was made on Feb. 26 during Central Arizona College’s Faculty Development Day at the Corporate Center in Casa Grande.

The NISOD awards will be presented during the International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence hosted by the University of Texas at Austin May 30-June 2.

Since 1978, the National Institute for Staff & Organizational Development (NISOD) has been dedicated to the professional development of faculty, administrators and staff; and to the continued improvement of teaching and learning, with the ultimate goal of student success.

More than 700 community colleges around the world are NISOD members, including almost every large community college district, the majority of urban and technical colleges in the United States and Canada, and more than 200 small, rural colleges around the world.

Debra Foster - professor of speech communication

Debbie Foster is a professor of speech communication who teaches a variety of courses while maintaining high academic standards and a tough academic rigor in the classroom.

She promotes mutual respect between instructor and student and has collaborated with colleagues to create various learning opportunities for students, developing workshops and new courses. She also helps prepare students for their public speaking engagements.

Foster has served as the Central Arizona College Faculty Senate president and vice-president, and has participated in a number of college committees, including but not limited to the College Advisory Council, Curriculum Committee, Academic Review Committee, Program Review Committee, and AQIP.

During the fall of 2009, Foster participated in the International Connections program, teaching as a visiting faculty at Northeastern University in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, in the People’s Republic of China.

She exemplifies the characteristics of an excellent teacher. Whether casually engaged in conversation, working with her as a committee member, or conferring as fellow faculty, Foster is a person who teaches others.

Mary Kieser - professor of reading

Mary Kieser is a professor of reading who teaches some of the most difficult courses at Central Arizona College in developmental reading and writing.

As lead faculty, she is a vital component and team player in her department, taking on the challenge of teaching reading courses through a variety of modalities - face to face, online, hybrid and iTV.

Kieser collaborates with faculty, The Learning Center, and library staff, and has participated in the TRiO Summer Bridge Program, the Learning Outcomes Review Committee, and the Student Learning Assessment Committee.

Currently, Kieser is the chair of the Subcommittee for the Communication Division’s Pilot Assessment on Critical Reading General Education Outcomes.

She always has a smile and pleasant word to share, and she is a dedicated educator who loves teaching. She has brought to the institution a strong dedication to her students, an attitude toward improvement on all levels, and a focus on completing the task while always maintaining a positive attitude.

Dr. Beth Krueger - professor of biology

Dr. Beth Krueger has served Central Arizona College as a gifted instructor, as vice president of faculty senate, and as a community member committed to working with the Nature Conservancy, the Biosphere, and the Mammoth Water Treatment Plant. She has served on her local library board and volunteer fire department.

Krueger teaches a variety of courses, including biology, chemistry, nutrition and environmental classes. She looks on the bright side of life and embodies the best attributes of someone who sees the glass half-full.

A gifted teacher who easily makes complex subjects understandable, Krueger effortlessly adapts her teaching approach and style to accommodate the different learning styles of her students.

Robert Randall - professor of agriculture

Robert Randall, professor of agriculture, may teach class at Central Arizona College, but that’s just the beginning.

In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Randall has served as chair of the Agriculture ATF Committee, CAC Ag Club mentor, and a leader in Boy Scouts, 4-H, and Pinal County Junior Livestock.

He is in charge of the annual Dean Merrell Future Farmers of America (FFA) Field Day, an event that brings in more than 500 students to the Signal Peak Campus.

His dedication toward CAC students is why the college’s programs have remained extremely strong for so many years. He is a highly-dedicated professional who knows how to motivate his students to strive for excellence.

Even with these formidable gifts, Randall is a humble and approachable person who loves to share his extensive knowledge with others.

Deborah Primm - professor of mathematics

Deborah Primm, professor of mathematics, is a gifted face-to-face instructor who has taken on the challenge of teaching via iTV and online. She encourages her developmental math students to excel.

Primm dons many proverbial hats in the math department, working as the ATF representative, developing curriculum, and taking responsibility for the math division’s webpage. She has worked as a curriculum mentor and editor in A.C.R.E.S. and is currently serving her first term on faculty senate as the math representative and senate secretary.

She continues with professional development, working on an assessment test with other math experts to help evaluate the preparedness of high school seniors for entry into a college algebra course following graduation.

A true asset to Central Arizona College with a terrific professional attitude, Primm can be found working with students in her office, at the tutoring center, or any table around campus. She has developed an extraordinary relationship with students.

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