Eight Northern Essex Community College Staff Receive National Excellence Awards

Jennifer Fielding of Methuen, coordinator, Library Services-Lawrence Campus, with her citation. (Courtesy photograph.)

Eight members of the Northern Essex Community College faculty and staff 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 working at the country’s community colleges.

This year’s recipients include Michelle Carter of Cambridge, associate professor and department chair, Art & Design; Jennifer Fielding of Methuen, coordinator, Library Services-Lawrence Campus; Edward Flanagan of West Boylston, associate professor and clinical coordinator, Emergency Medical Services; Tammy Foster of Amesbury, administrative assistant, Liberal Arts; Jaime McLennan of Woburn, associate professor of Nursing, Level 1 coordinator; Brian MacKenna-Rice of Middleton, professor and coordinator, Human Services; Donna Tanner of Pelham, N.H., assistant professor and coordinator for Educational Studies; and Jason Termini of Manchester, N.H., assistant professor and department chair, Computer Information Systems.

Since 1978, 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. NISOD’s Excellence Awards recognize men and women each year who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment and contribution to their students and colleagues. Excellence Award recipients are recognized during NISOD’s annual international conference, which takes place May 28-31 in Austin, Texas.

Carter is in her eighth year as a full-time professor and chair of the Art & Design Department. She was nominated by Dean of Liberal Arts Amy Callahan, who praised her for increasing art student enrollment during the pandemic by 10% to 85 students. “Professor Carter has developed a successful program that stands as a model for student engagement, academic excellence, experiential learning, faculty collaboration and community outreach…her students engage in gallery events and complete internships.” Callahan also credited Carter with building relationships with four-year transfer schools and generating participation in the annual Portfolio Day.

Foster, who has been at the college for 22 years, was also nominated by Dean Callahan. “Foster is renowned and respected for her dedication in serving students and faculty. Behind the scenes, she has helped ensure the success of many Liberal Arts departmental events and programs, including the student newspaper, theater productions, and faculty meetings. She applies her intricate knowledge of NECC systems for the good of students and faculty, helping everyone do their work more effectively and efficiently,” wrote Callahan in the nomination.

In nominating Fielding, Mike Hearn, assistant dean of libraries, praised her recognized expertise and scholarly work in information literacy. “Jenny has published and presented nationally on information literacy engagement in higher education, and has spoken locally on the topic. Jenny’s areas of scholarly interest include information literacy as a critical thinking skill and the societal effects of the use and misuse of information,” he wrote. “She has dedicated her academic career to teaching students how to engage with information sources—both print and digital—and advancing the pedagogy related to information literacy.”

For the past seven years, “Ted” Flanagan has been on the college’s paramedic faculty and clinical coordinator for the program.  “In his time here, he has worked to revamp the clinical experiences for students, including new standards and increasing availability of diverse clinical experiences. This has been extremely challenging during COVID especially, as clinical sites rapidly and abruptly shut down causing the need for rapid action,” wrote Scott Lancaster, dean of health professions.

Graduates of the Paramedic Program have a current pass rate for licensure ranging from 90 to 100% which exceeds the national average of 73%, and Lancaster credits Flanagan with that success.

MacKenna-Rice has served as coordinator of the Human Service Program for the past seven years and he started teaching in the program part-time five years before that. According to Kelly Sullivan, former dean of professional studies, who nominated MacKenna-Rice, he is very responsive to the needs of the local community and has created two certificate programs—Peer Recovery Specialist and Children’s Behavioral Health Specialist—to address community need.

Sullivan also wrote “Brian has an excellent rapport with his students, he personally meets with most of his students to advise and register them, lately through Zoom.  He also has contact with all incoming students over the summer, advising them and welcoming them to the program.  This work is mostly voluntary.”

McLennan of the Nursing faculty was nominated by Kelly Fisher, assistant dean of nursing and health professions, who praised her success in helping nursing students complete their first year. Fisher wrote “In her role as the course coordinator for the first-year courses her colleagues see her as a strong and knowledgeable leader. Jaime has demonstrated a passion to work as a team of nursing faculty to educate and support our nursing students. She participates in our Nursing Committee’s meetings by offering creative suggestions to improve our nursing program curriculum to assist students to achieve our program outcomes.” McLennan also serves as faculty advisor for the Nursing Club.

A former elementary school principal, Tanner has served as coordinator of the college’s Educational Studies Program for the past eight years. Since joining the college, she has evaluated the curriculum and added courses that would align the curriculum to the Massachusetts frameworks.

For the past four years, Tanner has worked with the Lawrence Working Family Initiative, a partnership of the Lawrence Public Schools, Lawrence Community Works, Northern Essex and the City of Lawrence, training Lawrence Public School parents to become paraprofessionals. “Donna has worked tirelessly to ensure students, many of whom speak English as a second language, succeed,” wrote Kelly Sullivan in her nomination. Approximately 80% of these students are hired as paraprofessionals at the conclusion of the program.

In nominating Termini for the NISOD Award, Carolyn Knoepfler, dean of STEM Programs, cited his focus on connecting his students with employers. “He has been able to support scholarship/internship opportunities for students that lead to full-time employment in many cases.”

Termini has been teaching at Northern Essex for the close to seven years and has recently served as department chair of Computer Science.

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