GHC honors faculty, staff with awards

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Georgia Highlands College recently honored its employees for their hard work and dedication.

The college recognized faculty and staff members for the 2015-16 academic year by handing out six awards at the annual in-service meeting.

Three of the recipients — Vivian Benton Award winner Jonathan Twilley, Community Involvement Award faculty winner Travice Obas and Employee of the Year Sharryse Henderson — were from the Cartersville campus.

Henderson, who has been on the faculty since 2003, said she was “honored and humbled” that her peers selected her as Employee of the Year, an award designed to recognize individuals who consistently support the mission and goals of the college by routinely demonstrating shared values and supporting an environment of excellence.

“I am particularly grateful for this recognition because I am sure all of the other nominees are equally or more qualified to receive this honor,” she said. “Honestly, winning this award would not have been possible without the support and encouragement that I have received from my colleagues, for whom I have the deepest respect and from whom I have derived the inspiration to work harder and perform better at each stage in my career.”

“Whether it is in the classroom engaging my students or attending a softball game at Stars Field, I feel like GHC is my home, and I look for every opportunity to spend time with my GHC family,” she said, noting she also serves as the part-time coordinator, scheduling coordinator and curriculum coordinator for the division.

“My master’s degree is actually in zoology so I’m looking forward to finally having the opportunity to share my passion for organismal biology with my students,” she said.

For Henderson, being a professor is all about helping her students find the path they’re meant to follow.

“As I look back over my career as an educator, more specifically a teacher in the ever-changing field of life sciences, I recognize that my teaching has evolved over the past 20 years to address the needs of my students and my desire to mentor and guide students through their educational experience,” she said.

Teaching also gives her an “opportunity for continual learning and growth,” she said.

“I have tried many techniques and teaching methodologies over the years, some that have worked while others that have tragically failed,” she said. “Identifying best practices and utilizing them creatively in the classroom, while also refining or even abandoning others, is my responsibility to my students and, in my opinion, forms the basic principle that underlies successful teaching and learning. These experiences and beliefs have been critical in enabling me to develop goals for my student’s learning, to employ pedagogy with which I have confidence and to critically evaluate my success as an educator.”

Henderson credits her own teaching style to educators she’s had and worked with in the past.

“I was very surprised when my name was announced as being nominated for the Vivian Benton Award,” he said. “There are so many people who work hard to make sure Georgia Highlands and our students are successful; to be viewed as one of those people and to win this award was a true honor.”

The building maintenance supervisor doesn’t think he’s done anything extra to make himself award-worthy.

“I absolutely love my job and the people I get to work with,” he said. “I don't necessarily consider the things I do as going beyond my job. My job is to be an employee of GHC and do it to the best of my ability.”

The “people of GHC” are what Twilley said he enjoys most about his job.

“There are so many people at GHC that come together to form one big family,” the Centre, Alabama, resident said. “The encouragement, support and respect that is shared between our faculty, staff, administrators and students is what I believe sets GHC apart from other institutions.”

Obas, a communication professor who has taught at the college for 13 years, said she felt “humbled” by winning the faculty Community Involvement Award, which is given to the faculty member who demonstrates a passion for making a difference by sharing their spirit, positive attitude and time with others.

The Kennesaw resident said she is involved in two community activities at the moment.

Generacion Latina Inc. is an after-school program designed to help Latina high school students pursue college opportunities.

“At GHC, we have collaborated with GLINC to expand this effort into Cartersville High School, with the hope that we see more Latina students choose GHC to begin their college journey,” she said.

“We have the opportunity to provide resources and services to meet the needs of individuals in the Cobb County community,” she said.Obas, who is teaching Human Communication, Public Speaking and Mass Media this semester, said her students bring her the most joy in her career.

“I enjoy watching my students learn and grow as communicators,” she said. “In addition, when I have the opportunity to engage my students in community-service activities, I am grateful to experience individuals encouraging and helping others to make a difference in the world around them.”

The other award winners were Virginia Siler, vice president for human resources, Outstanding Administrator Award; Terri Cavender, human resources manager, staff Community Involvement Award; and the advancement division, which includes public relations and marketing, alumni relations, print shop, digital media services and the GHC Foundation Inc., Department of the Year.