awardphotoEach year, Grand Rapids Community College recognizes outstanding contributions to the College through the Excellence in Education Awards.  For two GRCC faculty members, that recognition has gone national.  Diane Sparks, Professor of Education, and Dawn Cheikh, Adjunct Instructor of French and Arabic, became the inaugural GRCC recipients of the John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Awards at the League for Innovation in the Community College annual conference in Dallas, March 10 – 13.  The Excellence Awards were established in 2012 to recognize outstanding teaching and leadership by faculty at League for Innovation member institutions.

For Sparks, a 28-year veteran of GRCC, the award caps a long career of leadership and teaching excellence that includes time as both an education professor and the Director of the GRCC lab preschool.  According to Sparks, her passion for education began at a young age.

“I have been teaching since I could wrangle my little sister and friends into sitting and watching me use a pointer on the map on the wall in our basement when I was 10-years old,” she said.  “I am constantly challenged by the many learning needs that present themselves each semester, and it is those needs that have helped me grow and change as an educator.”

That focus on the needs of the students is a defining characteristic of Cheikh as well.

“I care about my students first.  The subject matter is secondary,” she said.  “I try to make every moment we spend in class golden.”

Sparks and Cheikh were recognized during a special ceremony at the close of the conference and each received  a certificate and medallion.


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