Four Northern Essex Faculty Receive Excellence Awards

NISOD recipients include NECC Professors Mike Cross, Paul Saint-Amand, Clare Thompson-Ostrander and Mike Penta. (Courtesy photograph.)

Four Northern Essex Community College faculty members were recently named recipients of the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Awards for Excellence, a national honor that recognizes outstanding faculty and staff in the country’s community colleges.

All of this year’s recipients are professors known for getting their students excited about the subjects they teach. They include Mike Cross, Michael Penta, Paul Saint-Amand and Clare Thompson-Ostrander.

Cross, of Atkinson, N.H., has been an associate professor of chemistry since 2009. To better understand the trials and challenges of today’s community college student, Cross enrolled in and completed the college’s liberal arts associate degree program.

A community college graduate himself, Penta, of Lowell, began teaching computer science at Northern Essex in 2012.  He has been an assistant professor since 2012.

A Vietnam-era Air Force veteran, Paul Saint-Amand, of Rockport, has taught at Northern Essex since 2007. He has promoted peace and supported other veterans. He previously taught at a number of institutions including SUNY- Potsdam, N.Y. He is currently writing “Planting Peace: Developing a Peace Poetry Literacy Program” for anyone who is interested in peace poetry as a genre.

Clare Thompson-Ostrander, of Amesbury, a professor in academic preparation, has been teaching and tutoring at Northern Essex since 1999. She received seven peer nominations for the award.

Carolyn Knoepfler, assistant dean of Science, Technology, Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing, nominated Cross.

“…He is an excellent teacher, colleague, department chair and magician!  He started the Bacon Board Game Club, is a requested guest speaker through the NECC Speaker’s Bureau…This summer, for the second time, he will lead a group of students to Italy to learn and discuss the work of Galileo.”

Knoepfler also nominated Penta. “Michael is an outstanding teacher, faculty member, mentor, and innovator at the college. His unending energy is obvious in everything he does…His rapport with students is impressive.”

Saint-Amand received nominations from Communication/Journalism Professor Amy Callahan and English Professor Tom Greene. Callahan praised Saint-Amand for his deep devotion to peace and justice and for the initiatives, he has introduced to the college community.

“Paul is deeply respected by the faculty as an expert educator and kindhearted colleague. Paul has brought important and meaningful initiatives to our campus – initiatives that directly touch the lives of students and make our community a better place, including Peace Poetry and the NECC Veterans Writing Group.”

Greene supported the nomination writing, “The phrase ‘beloved by many’ gets casually thrown around…but in Paul’s case I’ve never known anyone who leaves such a trail of selfless affinity and good will everywhere he goes.”

Thompson-Ostrander received seven peer nominations for the award.

“Clare is one of the most compassionate and passionate teachers I have ever met in my 27 years of teaching,” wrote Janice Rogers, assistant dean of liberal arts. “She is that professor who will notice when her students are hungry or upset and will get them help. She sees the whole student and all their complicated lives they bring to the classroom. She is gentle and kind, yet her expectations are high.”

Others who nominated her were Trish Schade, developmental English professor, Barbara Stachniewicz, English professor, Margaret Glenn of the college’s Marketing and Communications Team, Natural Science Professor Sarah Courchesne, and Aaron Moreno, developmental English professor.

Since 1978, National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development 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.

The national conference will be held on May 26 – 29 in Austin, Texas.