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Automotive instructor recognized for teaching excellence

Tuesday, February 23, 2016   (0 Comments)
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Less than two years ago, Chris Russom left full-time automotive work for the classroom. Granted, Russom’s classroom at Seward County Community College/Area Technical School looks just about the same as a standard auto repair shop. His, role, however, has shifted from fix-it guy to instructor.

"He's been doing an exemplary job," said SCCC/ATS Industrial Technology Division Chair Larry McLemore. "Moving from industry master to educator is one of the toughest transitions out there, but Chris … he just picked it up and kicked it up."

Russom was awarded top new-educator honors by the Kansas Council for Workforce Education at its fall conference in early November. The Leadership Award for Outstanding New Teacher recognizes a faculty member with no more than five years teaching experience, "who has demonstrated outstanding teaching abilities and dedicated commitment to career and technical education," said KCWE President Dave Mullins.

SCCC/ATS President, Dr. Ken Trzaska said the award highlights the critical importance of career-technical education. "We need people who combine the traits of a master teacher with the skills of an industry master," which benefits students, industry, and in turn, the economic health of the region, said Trzaska. "Chris is a great example of these two strengths."

The award took into consideration the instructor's ability to engage students in the classroom and on-site environments. Under Russom's leadership, McLemore said, "the automotive program has more than doubled in enrollment, the facilities never looked so good, and students are engaged in learning at the level any industry expert would wish for. He has become an educator in record time." Russom, who teaches Automotive 2 classes for advanced auto mechanic students, redesigned the curriculum to use a Learning Management System, or LMS, and built new assessment and advising tools into the program. 

"He continues to lead the Industrial Technology Division with a level of expertise usually reserved for only a few people I would call ‘master CTE educators,'" McLemore said. "And I've got a lot of really, really great people over here, so that’s a huge compliment."

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