Local professor Harding earns collegewide honor
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – While pursuing her doctorate degree, Kimberly Harding had an epiphany that led to teaching. She’d received a predoctoral fellowship from NASA, where she hoped to land a job. “It allowed me to do some student teaching, and as soon as I taught my first class, I knew this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” she recalled. “It was one of those light bulb moments.”A light of another sort shined on Harding recently when she had a surprise visit in a microbiology class from CMC President Stan Jensen and an entourage of administrators. Jensen announced she’d been granted a prestigious award: as not only the campus’s full-time faculty of the year, but as the collegewide honoree, as well.Every year, each of the college’s seven campuses, plus the department of online learning, can nominate an adjunct (part-time) and a full-time faculty of the year. From those honorees, senior administrators select a collegewide award recipient in each category.As part of her award she received a $500 certificate for professional development. Harding will also be honored, along with full-time faculty of the year from state’s 14 other community colleges, at an awards luncheon in Denver this month.After hearing the news at Spring Valley, Harding turned to her class and said, “See, I do know what I’m doing!”
Teaching subjects such as human anatomy and physiology, microbiology and pathophysiology, Harding always approaches her students with compassion.”Learning is not easy,” she said. “It can be stressful on a student and it can affect their self-confidence, so I always try to be compassionate towards all my students. I always want them to succeed, so it’s important.”She has taught at Colorado Mountain College in Glenwood Springs-Spring Valley for the past seven years. After receiving her award, she said she was “blessed to be honored this way.”In nominating Harding, Linda Crockett, an instructional chair at the college, wrote, “As evidenced by her evaluations, students know they are supported and encouraged, with many referring to [her classes] as their best educational experience.”Even beyond Harding’s glowing annual reviews from students, Crockett said she receives letters of gratitude from students. One wrote: “I wanted to state what a great job the professors are doing at Spring Valley to prepare students for nursing school, specifically Dr. Harding. [She] was so thorough and complete in the microbiology class that this summer’s pathophysiology class was almost all review! Additionally, her concentration on microbe and pathologies is making life in pharmacology much easier. I feel I am more prepared than many of my cohorts who went to ‘big’ schools.”
“Eight minutes.” “Five minutes.” “Two minutes!” Jacob Wolf excitedly counted down the time until he, his dad and campus staff would walk into his mom’s accounting class in Carbondale. He knew they’d surprise her with the announcement that she was chosen as the adjunct faculty of the year for the Roaring Fork Campus, which encompasses locations in Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and Spring Valley.Wolf was indeed surprised. But her students weren’t. Though it was the first night of class, most of the students were continuing in the second semester of Wolf’s Principles of Accounting course and knew for a fact she was deserving of the honor.College counselor Debra Burleigh said, “Students who take her Accounting 121 class insist on taking Accounting 122 only with her.””The one profession I was never going to get into was teaching,” Wolf said. Despite that conviction, she realized that teaching was the component she loved most about her job as a certified public accountant. “I liked working with my clients and teaching them things.”At about the same time she came to this realization, she saw an ad in the paper to teach a Quickbooks class at Colorado Mountain College. Now in her eighth year of teaching for the college, she said, “I totally love it.”Like all of her adjunct counterparts, Wolf brings an important element of real-world work experience to the classroom. “I have to correct the misperception that accountants sit alone in a room with their calculator all day, without any human contact,” she said. She advises her students, “You need to be able to communicate with people in ways in which they will understand. You need to find ways to bring it to them on their level without making them feel small.”Students practice this in and out of class, helping each other with difficult concepts. “A different approach can make the light bulb go on for someone else,” she said.Wolf said that students often tell her, “‘You know, you really expect a lot from us.'” She said, “To me, that’s a compliment.” And her response to those great expectations: “Together, we’re going to try and get there.”
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