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Isothermal's top teaching award goes to Watson

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Bret Watson (right) shown with Walter Dalton, president of Isothermal Community College, is the 2020 Robert Wendell Eaves Distinguished Teaching Award at Isothermal. -Submitted photo

Bret Watson, an Arts and Sciences instructor at Isothermal Community College, earned the institution's highest teaching honor this week.

The 2020 Robert Wendell Eaves Distinguished Teaching Award was presented to Haney by Walter Dalton, Isothermal's president, at the annual convocation for faculty and staff on Monday.

Watson has just completed his 14th year at Isothermal. He was nominated by two of his students.

One student says Watson uses "probing critical thinking questions that require you to have to think more deeply on a topic, which I found to be very beneficial."

"He is a great teacher in that he always has us actively thinking," the student said. "It's not always pure lecture. He uses different teaching strategies and activities that keep us really engaged in the process."

Another student had a similar observation: "It is obvious that he is passionate about teaching and being there for his students. He's always happy and is very understanding and caring."

Watson has spent many hours working to better Isothermal though his service to organizations like the taskforces for campus life, advising and professional development. He also served as the advisor for Isothermal's chapter of Phi Theta Kappa.

Watson has also been very active in the college's Quality Enhancement Plan effort, co-chairing the ACA subcommittee. This led to his later role of ACA coordinator where he was instrumental in the creation of the MAP assignment.

In his own words, a common thread that has run through his teaching career is "to provide students with opportunities to grow and to celebrate their academic achievements... Ultimately, I am here to help in any way I can so that students can learn to become responsible for their own education and success."

The 2020 Robert Wendell Eaves Distinguished Teaching Award is given each year to an instructor who demonstrates excellence in teaching and a true zeal for service to students. It was established by the Eaves family in 1982 to honor the late Dr. Robert Wendell Eaves and his distinguished career in education.

Dr. Eaves' philosophy and credo on the importance of teaching was simple: "A zeal for service is the first requirement of professionalization. Without a zeal for service, our efforts as educators are void and helpless. We cannot expect remuneration commensurate with our achievements. Our remuneration comes largely from the joy of seeing people grow strong, useful and intelligent. This is the best life has to offer. No greater life can anyone live."

Each year, the recipient is selected by a committee composed of past award recipients from nominations submitted by students, alumni, college personnel and members of the general public. Any full-time employee of Isothermal who spends at least 25 percent of his or her time on the job in teaching is eligible for the award.

Past winners have included Ruth Boehning, Vivian Sitton, Clara Fowler, Chris Koone, Carol Jones, Pete Golden, Aubrey Calton, Bill McDaniel, Dean Byrd, Gary Shipley, Mike Croussore, Lowery Luckadoo, Jay Coomes, Rhonda Davis, Cathy Alexander, Debbie Puett, Scott Bradey, Jeremiah Councill, Donna Harrison, Tim Beaver, Brett Parker, Amber Thompson, Melissa Johnson, Nathan Fisher, Scott Hutchins, Loreen Smith, Marisa Sudano, Jeremy Burris and last year's winner, Rebecca Haney.

The other Eaves finalists this year were Zach Freeman and Dr. Alice McCluney.

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