Seven Metropolitan Community College employees were honored at the Missouri Community College Association’s 2019 convention, held Nov. 6-8 in Kansas City. This year’s honorees are:
Governor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching
MCC-Business & Technology lineman coordinator/instructor
Blaser has been a full-time instructor for MCC since 2008. Under her leadership, the lineman program has doubled in size, starting with 24 students per cohort and growing to 48. The program at MCC is now recognized as one of the premier lineman programs in the Midwest.
Blaser’s professional background includes 20 years at Kansas City Power & Light running the line worker training program. She was not only the first woman to complete KCP&L’s line worker program but also the first female line worker in the state of Missouri. She has been featured in numerous local and national publications.
Blaser nominated Ed Budy, longtime KCP&L lineman and BT instructor, for the International Lineman Hall of Fame. “Being inducted was a lifelong dream that would not have happened if it were not for Susan,” Budy says. That shows you what Susan Blaser is all about — always putting others first.
MCC-Blue River English instructor
As an emergency hire at Blue River, Melles had to hit the ground running: She was immediately given the task of revamping the developmental English sequence for a Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Since then, she has implemented developmental composition portfolio assessments, created training and resource guides for her colleagues, offered active-learning workshops, and helped establish written English placement assessments. Additionally, Melles serves on Faculty Senate, the Senate curriculum committee, the Starfish implementation committee, and the HLC Criterion 4 committee.
Melles also works tirelessly with students and consistently receives high praise from them. Perhaps the highest praise she receives, however, is from instructors who teach her students in subsequent classes. Faculty frequently say they can tell which students had Kate Melles for an instructor because the students are simply better prepared and write at a higher level than their peers.
MCC-Longview physics instructor
Nienhueser has served as a faculty leader for the past decade. In 2010 she was unanimously elected to serve as the founding chair of the MCC-Longview Center for Teaching and Learning. She led dozens of successful initiatives over the six years she served as chair. She has also served in numerous other faculty leadership positions including in the Academic Senate and as chair of the MCC-Longview Faculty Association.
Nienhueser is also an exemplary educator. As a physicist, she teaches very challenging courses, but she has added so many innovative strategies to her teaching repertoire that many students consider her one of the best instructors they’ve ever had.
She has led several Faculty Convocation sessions on strategies for involving students in creating classroom norms; demonstrating successful techniques that students can use for mastering concepts in difficult subjects; and ways that faculty can learn the name of every student in class by the end of the second day of class. She is an inspiration to classroom instructors who have found the time to learn from her, and she continues to impress faculty who happen to walk past one of her engaging classroom activities on the way to our own classes.
MCC-Maple Woods biology instructor
Snell joined the MCC-Maple Woods campus in 2003 as a part-time biology instructor and was hired full time in 2006. His teaching, service and research experience is extensive, with more than 23 years of K-12 and postsecondary teaching in Missouri and Costa Rica.
Snell’s passion for students, science and the environment has led to the development of rich opportunities both in and out of the classroom. He launched and sponsored the Maple Woods Beta Beta Beta National Biological Honor Society from 2010-2014 and the Maple Woods Student Plant Sale in 2010 to support charitable organizations. He initiated a paper recycling program on campus, and in 2009 started the Environmental Club, which has inspired students to apply classroom knowledge and research to improve environmental practices in their communities. These have included community cleanups, invasive plant eradications, native plantings, habitat restoration, birdhouse construction and the tardigrades (also known as water bears) undergraduate research project in 2014 that won accolades from the Missouri Academy of Science.
Snell extended the classroom learning environment through the construction of a small greenhouse and vegetable garden to aid in course demonstrations, general classroom experiments and botany research projects.
His service to MCC can be seen in his committee work, assessment efforts, course development, shared governance and service as the biology dual-credit coordinator.
Senior Service Awards
Executive administrative assistant for instructional services, MCC-Longview
Latta joined the College part time in 1990, going full time in 2002. In her current role, she coordinates Longview’s dual-credit program, assists with state vocational reporting and helps coordinate the Missouri Innovation Campus early college program.
“MCC-Longview is my second home and my co-workers are my second family,” she says. “It is very gratifying work — I enjoy assisting students in beginning their college experience successfully.”
MCC-Blue River CSIS instructor
Napper began working at MCC in 1994 in a part-time position at the Longview Recreation Center. Two years later, she became a research and development administrative assistant, and she started taking classes to complete her associate degree. Napper was hired as a network support specialist for the Longview campus, later completing her bachelor’s degree and teaching part time at night. She accepted a full-time CSIS teaching position at MCC-Blue River in the fall of 2001.
Major milestones during her tenure at Blue River have been completing her master’s degree; participating in a Title VI grant, which included traveling through Mexico for a couple of weeks; and in 2009 bringing the original cybersecurity program to MCC with her participation in a National Science Foundation grant through the Cyber Security Education Consortium. She became the state lead for Missouri CSEC and participated until the grant ended.
MCC-Business & Technology custodial supervisor
Nickles began working at MCC in the summer of 1994 as a custodial technician at the MCC-Longview campus. In 2000, he became the lead custodian at the Business & Technology campus. During his tenure at MCC, he has obtained certifications from the Home Builders Institute as well as in forklift and in first aid. His pursuit of additional skills led Nickles to the position of BT facility services supervisor, starting in 2018.
Known as “Big John” on the BT campus and throughout MCC, he possesses a friendly demeanor that encourages others. Although his position requires technical skills, it also requires an array of people skills. He also has the ability to approach critical situations with discipline and confidence.
The BT facility is always operated at a high level of efficiency. Nickles not only sets high standards for others but also for himself.