WABASH VALLEY – Ivy Tech Community College-Wabash Valley recently named Cathy Cole, assistant professor of education and program chair, as its President’s Award winner for Excellence in Instruction for the Wabash Valley Region. She will be recognized along with 13 other regional winners for 2010-2011 at a ceremony in Indianapolis at a later date. This honor places her in contention for the Glenn W. Sample Award for Excellence in Instruction, Ivy Tech’s highest honor for a faculty member.
“I truly appreciate this recognition and am honored by it because I know that there were some other really good candidates who were nominated for this prestigious award,” Cole said.
Cole joined the Ivy Tech faculty in 2006, starting as an instructor and advancing to program chair and assistant professor. Her first challenge at Ivy Tech was to create a new program in Elementary Education. Cole accomplished this goal and along the way has grown course offerings from four to 12 and has seen tremendous growth in the program. Her passion for teaching is evident when she talks about following her students through their journey at Ivy Tech and their four-year institution of choice to become fully-accredited teachers. She describes that experience as similar to a mother bird watching her young ones leave the nest to take their first solo flights.
Cole’s teaching philosophy is summed up by the Golden Rule. She explained that she teaches her students in a respectful manner similar to how she would want her own children to be taught. She finds that doing unto others as you would have them do unto you is a good guide in the educational environment and in life. She is also passionate in her belief that a teacher must have a heart for teaching. That’s why she reminds her students to open up their hearts in the classroom in order to empathize with and serve as role models for the children they teach.
Cole uses all teaching methods at her disposal to inspire the future teachers in her classroom. She also feels it is vital to put these future teachers out into the ‘real’ classroom during their first education class by completing field observation experiences in the local schools. These observation experiences allow the education major to truly understand the time, commitment, and devotion classroom teachers make on a daily basis. This experience also helps her students solidify their desire to become one of these future role models.
A native of Ohio, Cole taught the first, third and eighth grades in her 14-year teaching career in her home state prior to coming to Ivy Tech. She holds an associate degree in Secretarial Science from Muskingum Area Technical College in Ohio and a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education from Muskingum College. Cole also has a Master of Arts in the Art of Teaching from Marygrove College in Michigan.
At Ivy Tech, Cole started the Student Education Association three years ago and is in her third year as a member of Faculty Senate. She has served on various local and statewide committees as program chair and has helped write articulation agreements for education programs between Ivy Tech and Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods College and Ivy Tech and Indiana State University.
In the community, Cole is a member of the Wabash Valley Literacy Coalition. Its purpose is to improve literacy in the Wabash Valley so that people can lead healthier, more financially secure and independent lives.
A testament to Cole’s influence is the success of the Ivy Tech students who have been members of the Student Education Association that she founded. One is currently president of the Indiana Student Education Association and travels extensively for the statewide organization. Another is the former recipient of the C. Houston Isaacs Award and is currently completing her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Saint Mary-of-the Woods College and last year won a statewide award for excellence in the postsecondary student category from the Indiana Association for Career and Technical Education. Both are in leadership roles and both speak highly of Cole as a mentor and friend.
Ivy Tech Community College is the state’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system serving nearly 200,000 students annually. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana. It serves as the state’s engine of workforce development, offering affordable degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its community along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association.