Longtime Muskegon Community College faculty member Char Parker has been selected as the 2014 recipient of the Outstanding Educator Award from the Michigan Occupational Deans Administrative Council. She was recognized at the Trends in Occupational Studies Conference on Oct. 16 at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa in Acme, MI.
The annual award honors Michigan community college educators for excellence in the classroom, professional achievements, and service to their respective colleges.
“Teaching is my passion and it is wonderful to receive this prestigious award honoring my efforts to promote student success in the area of computer programming,” said Parker.
“Char is really deserving of this award because she not only engages her students, she cares about their learning,” said Teresa Sturrus, MCC Vice President for Academic Affairs and Finance.
A Muskegon native and graduate of Muskegon High School, Parker earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from Aquinas College and a master’s degree in Education Leadership from Western Michigan University.
Now in her 13th year of teaching at MCC, Parker currently teaches Introduction to Personal Computers, Introduction to Computer Information Systems (CIS), File Design and Utilities for Midrange Computers, Operations and Commands for Midrange Computers, RPG Programming, Advanced RPG Programming, C Programming, and Java Programming.
“In the classroom, the instructor is continuously pushing students out of their comfort zone and trying new teaching methodologies to provide the best experience,” wrote one former student. “She has a willingness to always put time aside for students, and she has a passion for improving student opportunities in the field of CIS. She has the ability to break down difficult concepts into simple, sometimes silly, examples that are easier to understand. She maintains a positive attitude in the face of difficult students and is a fantastic person all around.”
At MCC, Parker has developed many CIS courses into the online format to assist working adult students who have to effectively balance the priorities of home, work, and school. Her well-designed assessment process for the popular CIS120A course was shared with faculty across campus, and she participates in committees that are dedicated to student success.
Parker has been featured in national publications for her innovative teaching style and her work in helping her MCC students to not only attend but to become actively involved with COMMON, the world’s largest professional association of IBM i technology users, representing 20,000 IT professionals. She collaborates with the COMMON Education Foundation to provide scholarships for MCC students to attend the national COMMON conference and other CIS events for free. She helped to rewrite portions of the COMMON Certified Business Computing Association exam, which is a nationally recognized and highly desirable third-party assessment for CIS and IT graduates.
Several years ago, Parker established a partnership with IBM through the IBM Academic Initiative program. She incorporates the IBM i curriculum into several CIS courses, providing her students a skill set that has proven a tremendous advantage to them in the job market.