CMC names Roaring Fork campus full-time, adjunct Faculty of Year
When Gary Ketzenbarger’s Theatre Script Analysis class was interrupted recently, students thought the intruders might be part of a performance-art flash mob.
A closer look revealed an enthusiastic group of administrators, instructors and staff members, some wearing masks made from a photo of Ketzenbarger’s face, all there to celebrate the theatre instructor’s campus Faculty of the Year Award.
“What a great thrill and an honor,” he said. “I’m just one teacher amongst a host of teachers who are very good, very talented. That’s one of the true joys of being on this campus: the caliber of the people, and the relationships that form between faculty and staff.
“You can’t do anything alone,” he said. “It’s always through other people that you’re enabled and empowered to do what you do.”
Ketzenbarger, associate professor of speech and theater and director of the college’s theater program, was named the full-time Faculty of the Year for Colorado Mountain College in Carbondale, Glenwood Springs and Spring Valley, while adjunct science instructor Phil Halliwell earned adjunct Faculty of the Year honors for the campus.
Ketzenbarger sets high bar, leads by example
Ketzenbarger said he approaches teaching like a quarterback, always aiming to throw the ball a little ahead of the receiver. “You want your students to have to hustle and stretch a little bit to really grasp the material,” he said. “And you have to believe that they’ll rise to the occasion and that, secretly, they want to be challenged.”
Nominator and instructional chair at the campus, Adrian Fielder, said Ketzenbarger’s high expectations and faith in his students make Ketzenbarger a stand-out instructor. “Every day he brings to his work in the classroom a set of attributes that reflect his absolute integrity regarding academic rigor and his belief in the potential of his students,” Fielder noted.
When asked how he keeps students engaged and striving toward their best efforts, Ketzenbarger’s answer was immediate. “Passion, passion, passion,” he said. “You fundamentally have to be passionate about the material to be successful in teaching it.”
Clearly, his passion is contagious. The theater program at Spring Valley is growing steadily and continuing to tackle new endeavors, including this fall’s production of “Amadeus” which was recently reprised at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen.
“That was a great experience for our students,” he said. “It also launched the department into wider community participation and broader cultural awareness of our program.”
Life imitates art
Ketzenbarger said that teaching, like theater, is part inspiration and part preparation. In every class, he strives to combine the two for maximum impact.
“Every class is a kind of performance,” he said. “There’s this inspired piece and this nuts-and-bolts piece, and they have to go together.”
Perhaps the greatest secret to his teaching success, however, is the way Ketzenbarger tunes in to individual needs and adjusts his instruction to help equip his students to move beyond surface knowledge into a deep, experiential learning process that they can apply to any subject.
“Teaching is definitely an improvisational art form,” he said. “Students have to be with you every step of the way.”
Halliwell brings professional expertise into classroom
Like Ketzenbarger, adjunct honoree Halliwell brings a wealth of experience and knowledge into his classroom at Colorado Mountain College. He has served as a civilian engineer for the Navy, as well as a quality, cost and environmental impact consultant for companies including The Hershey Company and The Walt Disney Company.
“My work experience,” he said, “is one of the most valuable things I can bring into the classroom. Hopefully, it makes every topic we discuss more relevant.”
The award-winning instructor said he first got into teaching out of curiosity. “It seemed like something I’d like,” he said. “My thought was: Hey, I love the subject, so why not teach it?” What Halliwell didn’t expect was how much he’d enjoy the relational aspect of being an instructor.
“Being able to build relationships with these students is such a privilege,” he said. “Every semester I walk away thinking it’s been a real pleasure to get to know these students on a personal level and to introduce them to science in a way that makes them want to learn more.”
“He’s very passionate about what he’s teaching,” said student Taylor Bennett. “He clearly relates to us and puts that passion into his students as well.”
One of the projects Halliwell says he looks forward to each semester is the river lab. “Before I started teaching this subject, I thought that I’d love to be paid to stand in a river or stream, and now I get to do that sometimes.”
But Halliwell and his students aren’t just standing there. They inspect the macro-invertebrates, measure the water level, check the pH, and calculate the flow. “We prepare for a week. The following week we go out, and everyone gets in the water,” he said. “That’s a fun time.”
Students also had a fun time at the surprise award ceremony held in Halliwell’s science classroom recently. Halliwell’s wife, Brooke, and 17-month-old son, Henry, were present for the festivities. Another son, Liam, 4, was in a class of his own at preschool.
“My family’s never been in one of my classes before,” said Halliwell with a smile.
His wife laughed and added, “Henry’s only here for the cake.”