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STLCC Faculty, Staff Members Earn Excellence Awards

League for Innovation logoEight faculty and staff members from St. Louis Community College have been chosen to receive 2021-22 Excellence Awards from the League for Innovation in the Community College.

The League for Innovation has been dedicated to informing, inspiring and celebrating innovation in learning, teaching, staff development and student success for more than 50 years. Since 2012, the league has presented Excellence Awards to outstanding faculty, staff and leaders in the community college field who have made a significant difference in the lives of students and in the communities their colleges serve. They recognize individuals who exemplify excellence in community college teaching and leadership. Individuals from any STLCC location can be selected to receive this honor.

Award recipients are Karen Wade, Annie Wagganer and Laura Westhoff from Florissant Valley; Joseph Cooper and Kim Kraft from Forest Park; Cindy Clausen and Jim Ibur from Meramec; and Gina Tarte from Wildwood. 

They will be honored during the league’s Innovations Conference Feb.28-March 3. In keeping with efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and its variants, this event will be held online.

Florissant Valley award winnersFlorissant Valley
Karen Wade is library secretary and room event scheduler at Florissant Valley. She began her relationship with STLCC in 1984 as assistant stage manager for the musical “Carnival.” 

Fresh from high school, Wade took a full load of classes and was involved in every play and Children’s Theatre Company production at Florissant Valley. She earned her associate degree in August 1989 and began her first full-time position on campus more than two decades ago. 

Over the years, Wade’s job title and office location has changed, but her love for the campus or her Florissant Valley family has not. In the 22 years she’s worked for the College, Wade has served as alternate for College Senate and co-chair for the Women’s History Month Committee among other roles. 

Annie Wagganer, assistant professor of sociology, began her career at STLCC in 2010. In the 12 years she’s worked for the College, Wagganer has served in a variety of roles, including honors program coordinator, co-chair of the STLCC Diversity Council and her current role as lead faculty for sociology, anthropology and psychology. In 2019, she was named the Cross Papers Fellow by the League for Innovation.

Wagganer’s work primarily focuses on creating scholarly spaces for meaningfully and productively discussing issues of (in)justice and (in)equality. She enjoys providing keynote addresses and training on belonging and inclusion as well as continually learning more from individuals engaging in similar efforts. 

Wagganer has worked in advocacy for sexual assault survivors as well as HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. She is proud to serve on the board of UrbArts, which fosters community by and for local artists in the greater St. Louis region.

Laura Westhoff is business services specialist. She provides support to the liberal arts and science, technology, engineering, and math divisions through a variety of services that include procurement and payroll review.  

Westhoff started her career at Florissant Valley in July 1998. In 23 years, she has served on the Emerging Scholars committee, co-chaired effort to raise campus funds for the United Way campaign, and volunteered at the Urban League of Metropolitan Saint Louis Inc. food distribution events held on campus to help community members impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. She considers working in education as a way of being part of the future, and enjoys helping students understand their tuition bills and payment plan options. Whether working with employees or students, she strives to offer respect, good communication and make other’s experiences rewarding.

Forest Park award winnersForest Park 
Joseph Cooper
is a project associate in the Health Sciences division. He joined STLCC in 2010 at the Florissant Valley campus, where he worked with Deaf students in the Scholarship for Education and Economic Development program. The SEED program was an international scholarship program providing technical training and educational opportunities to youth from economically disadvantaged populations. 

Cooper helps facilitate a variety of projects. He recently was involved in the districtwide expansion of the nursing program, establishing the program at the Wildwood campus, and completing the fourth floor in the Center for Nursing and Health Science building.

Kim Kraft serves as the district’s clinical coordinator for the nursing program. She came to the college in 2014 to complete her practicum experience for an MSN in nursing education from Gonzaga University. She then became a clinical instructor for the nursing program following graduation. 

Kraft joined STLCC in spring 2017 as full-time nursing faculty member with release time to support the nursing program as the clinical coordinator. With the unification of the nursing program across the district and the program expansion, the release time evolved into a full-time position as district clinical coordinator. 

Meramec award winnersMeramec
Cindy Clausen
currently serves as the manager of academic success and tutoring. For more than a decade, Clausen has been entrusted with providing academic support for students at Meramec. Under her leadership, the department has grown from a few tables, one room and a handful of computers in the Communications North building to what now includes a significant portion of the library’s second floor. 

Clausen has also grown the department to dozens of staffers and student support staff. By providing these expansions and envisioning ways to continue to do so, numerous students have benefited academically, as well as socially and emotionally thanks to Clausen’s guidance and dedication to the program.

Jim Ibur is a professor in design, visual and performing arts. His passion for STLCC and its students is evident. In the classroom, he is an expert educator. The learning environment Ibur creates is always productive, professional, nurturing and entertaining. Materials are presented in a variety of ways and individual attention is given to ensure engaged students in the learning process.

“If you watch him interact with his students, faculty administrators or just about anyone, it is undeniable how much he deeply cares about the College,” said Tim Linder, chair of the design, visual and performing arts department. “A perfect recent example of his dedication to our school and students has been his work to unify the faculty across the district in order to make a streamlined and impactful change to our fine arts curriculum.”

Gina TarteIbur has been instrumental in creating the vision and executing a plan to improve the department’s curriculum for transferability and make it more relevant for today’s students. He navigates additions to the curriculum to implement learning opportunities that help students become more successful graduates by giving them the tools that will help them make a living as artists. 

Gina Tarte serves as the marketing and communications coordinator. She has held her current position since 2015. Prior to this, she honed her communications skills working for a four-year university and a K-12 public school district. She began her career on the agency side, supporting advertising campaigns for Fortune 500 clients.

Tarte holds a master’s degree in marketing and advertising from Webster University and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

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