The highest honor earned by faculty members in the MnSCU system is The Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Teaching, given by the Office of the Chancellor. Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s Marcella Jones and John Plomondon have been honored with the award this year, which recognizes achievements above and beyond the call of duty and addresses important outcomes connected to student learning.
“MCTC prides itself on academic excellence and its faculty leads the way in making this possible,” said Phil Davis, president of MCTC. “A common theme between Marcella and John is their immeasurable commitment to supporting their students and recognizing each person’s ability to be successful.”
Marcella Jones, mathematics instructor at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.
Marcella Jones: Nurturing the Individual
“None of us possess the capacity to see what another person is capable of or has inside of them,” said Marcella, who aims to nurture each of her students and bring out talents that are sometimes unseen.
“My students are the flowers in the garden of my life. As a gardener, I nourish and cherish the flowers,” said Marcella, sharing her teaching philosophy. “I have a bountiful harvest when each and every student has gained the mathematical self-confidence to successfully climb over any mathematical fence which lies between them and the achievement of their academic and career goals.”
Marcella began her college career at the University of Kansas. Prior to completing her bachelor’s degree, she took 11 years off to spend time with her children. She returned to college at MCTC (then called MCC) which set the course for her career. “The outstanding instruction I received prepared me so well for my subsequent classes at the University of Minnesota, I was ahead of the curve,” said Marcella.
When Marcella began teaching at MCTC in 1994, many of the instructors who had provided her wisdom when she was a student were now her valued peers. “Together, we nourish our students so they can advance in their education,” said Marcella.
John Plomondon, American Studies instructor at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.
John Plomondon: Electrifying the Classroom
Walk into one of John Plomondon’s American Studies classrooms at MCTC and you’ll feel the electricity. “I am always energized by classroom conversations at MCTC because they take many different forms,” said John. “The energy is fed by the students’ thirst for knowledge and the diverse mix of ages, races and cultures represented on campus.”
John began as a guest lecturer at MCTC in the mid-1980s and joined the faculty full-time in 1987. His face lights up when he talks about his students and his constant goal to make the classroom a safe and respectful space for everyone. “When students discover they have an important voice and learn how to communicate effectively using that voice, they realize they can share their knowledge with their own community and make a difference in society,” said John.
Long after John began teaching, he discovered he had a great grandfather, also a teacher, named Plato Ross. “I hope he would have approved of my using the Socratic method of teaching which asks questions to facilitate thinking, ideas and dialogue to inspire new ideas,” said John. No doubt he would have won his great grandfather’s admiration as an instructor who helps students understand that what they learn in the classroom has meaning in their own lives.
Read this story and more in MCTC’s Spring 2013 edition of The Groove!