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At the end of each academic year, the students and employees of Colorado Mountain College nominate outstanding educators and staff for Faculty of the Year and Staff of the Year awards. During the pandemic, so many CMC employees rose to the challenges before them, pivoted and created new ways to reach and support students.

Overall, for the 2020-21 year, CMC senior administrators chose Jason Shoup, Rifle campus assistant professor and welding instructor, as the full-time collegewide Faculty of the Year. Dr. Abby Crew, who teaches for CMC’s Summit County campus and the enhanced technology – or online – learning department, received the collegewide adjunct Faculty of the Year Award.

For staff, the college recognized Flor Cruz Valdez, an academic advisor and senior enrollment services specialist at CMC Summit County, as the collegewide full-time Staff of the Year. Ezekiel “Zeke” Hall, the prototype lab manager at CMC Spring Valley at Glenwood Springs, received the collegewide part-time Staff of the Year Award.

Colorado Mountain College also nominates standout faculty and staff at each of the college’s 11 campuses, its Central Services office and its online learning department.

Welding skills – for life

On the CMC Rifle faculty since 2006, Shoup is no stranger to being recognized for his commitment to teaching. He received the Rifle campus’s 2018 Faculty of the Year award and holds the respect of his students and a reputation for teaching excellence. When the pandemic hit last March, Shoup accelerated his efforts.

To make sure that his welding students could complete the requirements to earn their welding certificates safely, he taught classes well beyond the semester into June and July. In the spring, when a colleague fell ill, he taught an extra class.

“Jason worked heroically last year,” said Tinker Duclo, CMC vice president and Rifle campus dean. “He created some of CMC’s first COVID safety plans and taught double the number of classes to ensure our students were safe and had the opportunity to graduate.”

Teaching online – with passion

Crew teaches for CMC’s Summit County campus as well as the college’s online learning department. She teaches English, history, sociology and gender studies. The students in her classes are local, national and even international, from concurrent enrollment high school students to nontraditional scholars.

“Teaching online during the pandemic has enabled students an opportunity to connect with others, even in isolation,” Crew said. “It has been an honor to walk with my students in their journey as we are all navigating this ‘new normal.’”

On CMC’s faculty since 2012, Crew is also the department chair for social and behavioral studies.

“Abby is an innovative team player,” said Dr. Chris Wenger, director of technology enhanced learning at CMC. “She’s had a positive impact on student learning and has worked to build collegiality.”

Staff of the Year recognitions

Cruz Valdez has contributed to student success throughout the pandemic. Being fluent in both English and Spanish, she was able to bridge gaps with students registering for classes with a welcoming, caring attitude.

“Flor makes me love coming to work, and she makes students feel like they belong in college,” said CMC Summit County ESL Professor Sharon Aguiar.

Like Cruz Valdez, Hall is known for making CMC a welcoming, inclusive place to learn. While he’s not running the day-to-day of the prototype lab, he provides support as a tutor for students at the CMC Spring Valley campus. Hall is also an alumnus of CMC having graduated in 2016 with an Associate of Applied Science in graphic design.

“Zeke creates a positive environment for the people around him,” said Rob Martin, dean of CMC’s Isaacson School of Communication, Arts & Media. “His impressive talents and his ability to master new skills and technology quickly enables aspiration with confidence.”