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STLCC-Forest Park Celebrates Teachers of the Year

Christie Cohoon, STLCC-Forest Park Teacher of the YearChristie Cohoon sees herself as a problem solver. If there is something that’s not working or if obstacles get in the way, she finds an alternative route to get the intended results. 

The approach has worked well in life and it’s one of the reasons she was recently selected as the St. Louis Community College-Forest Park Teacher of the Year. 

“I was beyond surprised and honored,” said Cohoon, program coordinator and clinical coordinator for the physical therapist assistant program. “I feel like I’m a newcomer on Forest Park’s campus, so people don’t know me very well yet. To be selected from my peers, amongst peers who don’t know me very well yet, feels like a huge honor. 

“Also, in the Center for Nursing and Health Sciences, I’m surrounded by amazing instructors. So, to be singled out felt like an added honor.”

Gintare Litton, nursing in-hospital clinical experience, was selected Adjunct Teacher of the Year. She is pictured below holding her award.

Robert Hertel, hospitality studies, and Brandy Englert, mathematics, were finalist for Teacher of the Year.

Cohoon worked at her alma mater, Saint Louis University, where she earned her doctorate in physical therapy, for more than a decade while continuing to practice. When she had an opportunity to work full time at SLU or take a position at St. Louis Community College, she struggled making a decision for a bit before coming to her conclusion. 

She chose the community college because it felt right. It was more hands on with the students, rather than splitting time between teaching and doing research. 

“The community college had more to offer for what I wanted,” Cohoon said. “I wanted to teach students how to treat people.” 

Cayla Speaks, a second-year student in the physical therapy assistant program, said she couldn’t ask for a better instructor. She saw Cohoon on a limited basis during the first year of the program, but since the start of the current academic year, Speaks said Cohoon has been nothing short of essential in getting her through school and ready for a career in physical therapy. 

Gintare Litton, STLCC-Forest Park Adjunct Teacher of the YearDuring the fall 2021 semester, Speaks missed some classes because of an illness and found herself struggling to get caught up. Cohoon gave Speaks the one-on-one time needed for her to get a full grasp of the subject.

“I wouldn’t be as ready without her,” Speaks said. “She’s just a good person to talk to, not just about the program, but even if there’s something going on in your life. She helps you to figure out your strategies and your time management. 

“She’s like our superhero because she does so many things,” Speaks added. “She has the best time management. She’s a positive presence every day. She just makes the classroom very comfortable and a welcoming environment. It’s very easy to want to learn in her class.”

Cohoon has been interested in teaching since high school. She planned to go to college to become an educator until an encounter with a physical therapist around her junior year sent her in a different direction.

That led her to SLU, where she also received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. After three years working as a physical therapist, she had the opportunity to return to her alma mater to help train new therapists and eagerly accepted the offer. She spent 12 years in clinical practice and as an adjunct professor when the opportunity to teach full time at STLCC arose and she eagerly jumped at the offer. 

Cohoon continues to combine her passions at STLCC and cherishes moments that remind her why education was always a draw. 

“I love light bulb moments,” she said. “I love seeing students really get it, grasp the concept and be able to apply that. My students are out in the clinic right now, and it’s so much fun to call in for their check-ins or go visit them on site visits and see the excitement in their faces when they’re treating people, they’re helping people. 

“That’s the moment. That’s what I live for in my profession.”

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