By Carrie Click
Educators Cynthia Bell and Carol Koch are not only regarded as the year’s top faculty at the Colorado Mountain College campus in Edwards, where they teach. Both have also been selected the collegewide Faculty of the Year for all 11 of the college’s locations.
CMC President and CEO Dr. Carrie Besnette Hauser surprised Bell and Koch with their awards on May 7 at the annual year-end gathering for college faculty and staff. This year’s event brought more than 400 faculty and staff together at the college’s campus in Leadville for professional development and planning meetings.
Bell, who teaches business classes at both the associate and bachelor’s levels, received the adjunct faculty award. Koch teaches Spanish, as well as serves as the campus’s representative to the collegewide Faculty Senate. She received the full-time, collegewide faculty award.
“Oh my goodness,” said Bell when asked what it felt like to be identified as CMC’s top adjunct educator in front of hundreds of her peers. “You could have knocked me over with a feather!”
Each year, students, staff and faculty of Colorado Mountain College nominate one outstanding full-time and one adjunct faculty member from each of the college’s seven campuses and the online learning department. From those honorees, senior administrators then select a collegewide award recipient in each of the two categories, representing the span of the college’s 12,000-square-mile service area.
From adjunct to full time
Adjunct honoree Bell received another pleasant surprise recently when Maureen Stepp, instructional chair for the college’s locations in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Spring Valley, announced that in August, Bell will move to the Roaring Fork Valley to become a full-time associate professor of business.
Before working at Colorado Mountain College, Bell spent more than 25 years on Wall Street as the only woman on a 100-man trading floor. Following her financial career, she received her doctorate in education from George Washington University in human and organizational learning.
At the Edwards campus, Bell is well-known for not only teaching a range of management, finance and business courses, but also for creating new courses, and for her mentorship of students.
“Cynthia has a wonderful following of students,” said Dr. Mercedes Quesada-Embid, associate professor of sustainability studies at the Edwards campus and chair of the Faculty of the Year nominating committee at that campus. “Her students leave her classes with a hands-on, relevant and critical understanding of the way in which the business world operates.”
Dr. Kathryn Regjo, vice president of Colorado Mountain College in Edwards, has witnessed the impact Bell has on her students.
“It is so wonderful to see an individual truly delight in the learning process and success of our students as Cynthia does,” Regjo said.
Taking Spanish to a new level
For Koch, teaching Spanish isn’t just about introducing non-native Spanish speakers to the language. She has also been instrumental in establishing Heritage Spanish classes that help native Spanish speakers enhance their written, spoken and reading comprehension skills in their first language.
“These heritage classes have taken off,” said Quesada-Embid. “[They] are an excellent way to support our growing Latino/Hispanic population. Spanish is one of the steadily growing programs in Edwards as a result of her work.”
However, Koch’s teaching doesn’t stop at the Edwards campus and it doesn’t end with just teaching Spanish. She has developed and is leading a new CMC study abroad course in Costa Rica this summer.
“Carol is intent on creating collaborations across disciplines, encouraging interdisciplinary learning such as the Costa Rica study abroad trip, where she has worked tirelessly to connect Spanish learning with environmental science,” said Quesada-Embid.
“Thank you, Carol,” said Regjo to Koch in response to the award recipient’s teaching efforts. “We are looking forward to another fantastic year ahead.”