The Motlow College Foundation has revealed its 2020-21 Academic Year Faculty Excellence Awards. The Faculty Excellence Awards recognize full-time and adjunct faculty who excel in professional activities and development; instructional activities, improvement, retention, completion activities; non-instructional college service; community service; and student evaluations.
The Motlow College Foundation is proud to sponsor this Motlow tradition since the awards began in 1978. These faculty members join a distinguished list of instructors who are part of the great tradition of celebrating excellence in education at Motlow State. A reception for nominees and winners is planned for a later date.
“While they are excellent in their unique individual ways, you will note they share a common passion—dedication to making a difference in their fellow beings’ journey via education and redeemed social conditions,” said Dr. Gregory Sedrick, chief student success and academic officer, and special assistant to the president. “It is my honor and privilege to congratulate these truly remarkable Motlow State Family Members.”
Assistant Professor of Psychology Kate Benson, Murfreesboro, does more than teach psychology. She is a faculty advisor for the Psi Beta Psychological Honors Society at the Smyrna campus and an advisement specialist. She has also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and the Special Olympics State-Wide Flag Football Tournament. Additionally, she is an avid runner, having participated in multiple 5K and a 10K race in 2019.
“It is a great honor to be nominated for the Faculty Excellence Award,” said Benson. “I work diligently to combine intellectually stimulating & engaging activities to serve the students at Motlow State best.”
Associate Professor of Geography Charle Coffey, Tullahoma, is a travel enthusiast. She has visited multiple world heritage sites, geographic landmarks, cultural and religious sites, and wildlife habitats. Her travel knowledge transfers to her classroom using virtual reality technology that allows students to take virtual field trips. She has presented information sessions to civic and community organizations, sharing her travel experiences with others beyond the classroom. She served 30 years as an administrator at Motlow before moving to full-time faculty.
“Extensive travel to educate myself on other cultures, religions, places, governments, economies, and wildlife is an important part of professional development in my discipline. I often tell my students that two of the best ways to experience other cultures are through food and music,” said Coffey. “I challenge students to research topics of interest, experience the world through travel, and to strive to broaden their perspectives and world views.”
Instructor of Chemistry Nathan Fisher, Columbia, is an avid community servant. He provided free Korean language lessons to students traveling to South Korea with Tennessee Consortium for International Studies. Fisher frequently donates coffee and hot cocoa supplies to the Smyrna Library. He also helped distribute donated hand-made masks in response to COVID-19. He has been instrumental in assisting Motlow to obtain a USDA Fermentation Grant that will enable a variety of Fermentation and Distillery Science learning opportunities.
“I am deeply honored by this recognition. I’m happy for all that I’ve been able to do for our students over the past year, and I look forward to continuing to serve them in the future,” said Fisher.
Professor of Biology Dr. Cheri Gregory, Tullahoma, is a Motlow graduate who has been teaching at Motlow for more than 25 years. This is her second time receiving this award. As a member of the Beagle Freedom Project, SOS Beagle Rescue, and the Tullahoma Animal Shelter Fundraising Committee, she is an animal lover at heart. She is also a sports enthusiast, participating in Tullahoma’s Cross-Country, Quarterback, and Wrestling Booster Clubs. Additionally, she has served as a “visiting scientist” for the Hands-On Science Center and Tullahoma City Schools.
“Teaching at Motlow was my dream job, and it means as much to me now as it did in the beginning. The opportunity to interact with the students helps keep me young, and some of my best friends have been my coworkers,” said Gregory.
Instructor of Biology David Powell, Murfreesboro, took distance learning by the horns. With Motlow’s transfer to online learning, Powell adapted the existing on-ground biology lab materials to provide an experience online as close as possible to the experience students would receive in the classroom. He volunteered for the Tennessee Environmental Council’s 250K Tree Day, handing out saplings at the Smyrna campus. He also served as a judge for middle and high school presentations at the District 7 Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America Conference.
“I continuously seek to expand my knowledge of teaching pedagogy and of technology used in my classroom to enhance student engagement and success,” said Powell.
Director of Student Success Kyle Macon, Winchester, represents Motlow during TN Promise fall meetings at Franklin County High School. He teaches the First-Year Experience Course. Beyond Motlow, Macon is a minister at Huntland Church of Christ and has served as camp director for Revive Camp Week for ten years.
“It is an honor to be recognized among so many outstanding faculty members,” said Macon. “First-Year Experience is a joy to teach because it provides a foundation for the rest of our students’ collegiate careers. The most rewarding part is watching students engage in critical thought leading to lightbulb moments in regards to their study skills, personal health, stress management, money management, or career goals.”
Adjunct Professor Margaret McKinley, Murfreesboro, teaches education and early education at Motlow. She also serves as the secretary for the African American Society of Rutherford County and the vice president of the Tennessee Women’s Missionary Society. McKinley received the Jerry Anderson Humanitarian Award of the Murfreesboro Branch of the NAACP in 2020. She has also published a children’s book called Miss Jenny and the Yellow School Bus.
Lois resident Dr. Tina Roback teaches General Biology, Microbiology, and Human Anatomy and Physiology. She is devoted to community service. Roback hosted a collection event for a Tullahoma daycare center, aided in tornado clean-up in Estill Springs, packed and delivered Christmas food boxes through her church, and packed shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse. At Motlow, she has served on the Outdoor Classroom Committee and the Achieving the Dream Focus Group. She earned her Ph.D. in Environmental Biology from the University of Louisville.