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PCC instructor named semi-finalist for state teaching award

Published Thursday, December 12, 2013
by Elizabeth Townsend

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Piedmont Community College instructor Heather Barker was named one of 10 semi-finalists in the 2013 North Carolina Community College System’s R.J. Reynolds Excellence in Teaching Award competition. Barker, who began teaching math at PCC in 2010, was nominated by Dr. Dawn Langley, Dean, General Education and Developmental Studies.

Dr. Langley praised Barker’s ability to focus on the development of her students as whole persons, saying, “Although she is excellent at enticing students to think outside the box when taking an algebra or calculus class with her, she thoroughly enjoys other connections with her students, including the advising process. Sitting down with a student to figure out the best path to the goals they set for themselves is truly her forte.”

In 2012, Barker applied and received a mini-grant from the PCC Foundation to start a “Couch to 5K” program for students, training them to be able to fun in PCC’s annual 5K event. Langley said she “has brought physical education to the forefront on the PCC campus” through her own running and walking and her enthusiasm for the sport.

Barker also participates in PCC’s Travel Abroad program, leading international education trips with a fellow PCC instructor.

Barker was cited for her ability to incorporate the newest technology in her classes to assist students with learning. For the past two years, she worked on the idea of a flipped classroom, combining the use of recorded lectures with Smartboard slides that students use for notes while watching the class lecture before they come to class. With this preparation, Barker leads the students in practicing the concepts, allowing her to work with them as needed. Dr. Langley said, “The students have responded very well to this approach.” Another instructor has also adapted the videos and lesson plans to her own section of the class.

Barker was involved in the redesign of the College’s developmental math curriculum, served on the Quality Enhancement Plan Committee and its Marketing Team and its Faculty and Support Team; and completed the Quality Matters Certification process for an online course she teaches.

Described as “an energetic and committed instructor,” Barker “endeared herself to students, earning a quick reputation for being supportive, intelligent, and knowledgeable,” Dr. Langley said.

“We are very proud of Heather Barker for being named a finalist for this coveted award even though she did not advance to the final round of competition. She exemplifies the quality of instructors PCC offers its students,” said Dr. Walter Bartlett, PCC President.

Barker has a B.S. degree from Meredith College and an M.A. from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is married to David Barker, and they reside in Semora where they enjoy growing their own vegetables and raising chickens.

Established by the State Board of Community Colleges in 1985, the Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes full-time instructors who exemplify the highest standards of instruction and professionalism in the classroom and demonstrate excellence in service to their colleges and communities.