GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL
– Ask Holly Dwyer why she does the things she does, and without hesitation, she replies, “It’s because of the students.”
College of the North Atlantic’s (CNA) instructor in the Business Management (Human Resource Management) program at Grand Falls-Windsor campus is quick to deflect the spotlight from herself when it comes to her achievements over a 17-year teaching career, which is why she was humbled when learning she had received an award for teaching excellence.
Dwyer was recently notified that the Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP) had selected her as the recipient of the 2018 Teaching Excellence Award for Region 1 associate degree (two-year diploma programs) member institutions. The region includes the northeast area of North America (New England states, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Quebec and Atlantic Canada). She is the first from CNA to receive this distinction.
“I was pretty excited, I have to say. It feels good to be recognized, though I don’t like to be recognized publicly necessarily. There is always room for improvement, of course. I love what I do, and I do it because I get a lot of job satisfaction from the students. Seeing the students succeed is what really motivates me.”
Sharon Collins, Assessment Coordinator with the School of Business & IT, nominated Dwyer in December 2107, and she notes the competition was stiff. There were a large number of schools within each of the 10 global regions, with each selecting one winner for associate degree institutions.
“This is much bigger than Holly from Grand Falls-Windsor being selected for an award. She is standing shoulder to shoulder with internationals in this one – ACBSP is global,” explained Collins.
During their interview with CNA News, Collins broke the news to her co-worker that as part of being selected for this award, Dwyer’s name would now be put forward for one international teaching excellence award. The winner will be announced during the ACBSP Salute to Regions luncheon in Kansas City, Missouri, in June. There, she will also receive a crystal medallion and a $250 cheque.
“The conference will involve nearly 1,000 business education professionals from around the world, and they are all meeting the same standards that we have to meet in business excellence,” said Collins, who has been an ACBSP evaluator in the past for nominees from Region 1. “I had no trouble putting Holly forward because I knew the calibre of who had won in the past, and I knew she would stand out.”
Collins recounted a few quotes from students were included in the initial nomination package to ACBSP, including, “she makes you want to come to class,” which she said speaks volumes for Dwyer’s abilities as an instructor. Some other descriptors were: inspiring, engaging, exceptional, selfless, encouraging, earns respect, genuinely cares for the students, high standards of professionalism, and passionate about her industry and for teaching.
“That’s all that really matters to me – that they see that,” said Dwyer, when she heard those words being used to describe her. “I really do love what I do, and I ask the students if they think I do. I know what their response is going to be, and my point is that if you can get the attitude – mine is job satisfaction – then you’ll get the behaviour. We really need people to go above and beyond to bring students to a higher level. That’s what I want to do.”
Dwyer also had to send a letter that touched on five categories: Teaching and Learning, Professional Development, Institutional Versatility, Curriculum Development, and, Community Commitment. It opens with a statement that summarizes her feelings, “I take tremendous pride in my work.”
She also outlined her activities within and outside CNA that demonstrates how she promotes teaching excellence. For her, the high point of her career is her extensive work as a coach for the past nine years in the college’s Business Case Competitions at provincial, national and international levels. She also is involved with the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor civic awards, local sports and the theatre club to name a few activities.
She continues, “I am motivated to work hard because I understand that when I do, it makes a difference. And, I identify with the college’s objective of providing quality programs and continuously striving for excellence. As a result of these attitudes, it shows my commitment, performance and willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty. Going above and beyond has been very rewarding for me because it’s how I have gained students’ respect. With respect comes trust and with students’ trust you can bring them beyond their comfort level and enable them to realize their full potential.”
Collins said there is no doubt Dwyer invests in her students by giving her time and values, as well as giving back to the campus and the community.
“Every day is a new challenge,” added Dwyer. “I am always looking for new things to bring into the classroom. I teach Human Resource Management, so it’s not something that you can step away from. I am always looking for new things to keep students engaged.”
College of the North Atlantic