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OJC Press Release ID: 2606

Monday, January 9, 2017

Otero Junior College Employees of the Year

Otero Junior College is proud to announce the faculty and staff members who have been named Employees of the Year. Four categories of employees are recognized each year at OJC for their outstanding service and dedication to the college. Those categories are: faculty, adjunct instructor, classified and administrator/pro-tech.

This year’s honorees include: Brooke Matthew, Faculty of the Year; Janice Horton, Classified Employee of the Year; Holly Lewis, Administrator/Pro-Tech of the Year; and Darlene Blackford, Adjunct Faculty of the Year.

Faculty of the Year:

Brooke Matthew has taught in the Agriculture Science program at OJC for four years.  The program has grown yearly, in number of students and community recognition. 

Matthew has developed recognition with community events including the New Year’s Eve Ag Gala, Back to School Picnic and Ag open house. Students describe her as approachable, caring, enthusiastic, organized and confident. 

The greatest joy Matthew gets from teaching is working with her students.  “I enjoy working directly with students both in the classroom and as faculty advisor,” said Matthew. 

Matthew strives to be a better instructor with each year.  She continually works to improve activities, homework and exams and to create rubrics for more assignments. “I attempt to tie the topics we are covering in class to real life. I want students to walk away from a course or be working in the Ag sector and say, ‘This is what Brooke was saying.’”

Classified Employee of the Year:

Janice Horton has been named the Classified Employee of the Year for 2017. She has been employed at OJC as an administrative assistant in Student Services for five years.

Horton has been cross training and learning new job duties outside of her daily responsibilities willingly and without complaint. She always has a smiling face to greet students and staff. The positive attitude Horton has brought to the office with her makes her fun to work with and helps support comradery.

In addition, Horton will always make sure you have a fabulous photo for your student or staff ID.

Administrator/Pro-Tech of the Year:

Holly Lewis has been the TRiO Student Support Services director for four years. She has made the program one of the most valuable student support programs the college provides. 

Lewis not only manages the federal grant well, but she also stepped up to write the new TRiO grant in 2015 when there was no grant writer on staff.

Her great compassion for the students led Lewis to provide innovative programs and experiences including entrepreneurship training, etiquette training, and trips to major educational and cultural sites in Colorado.  She has developed programs to support TRiO students including the Angel Project, motivational speakers, and workshops to address study skills, self-knowledge, time management and financial literacy.

Lewis works hard to put students first by providing mentoring and support to help them be successful along their academic journey.

Adjunct Instructor of the Year:

Darlene Blackford has been involved at OJC for many years, beginning with developing and directing the OJC Dance program and more recently as an adjunct instructor.

As an instructor, Blackford describes herself as fully-committed.  She believes in the teaching-learning process and tries to find new and better ways to do it each semester.  Her greatest joy is providing an atmosphere in the classroom where students and the instructor are sharing information and learning as a team.

“I hope that my students see me as a caring teacher, one who values and expects the best from each of them,” said Blackford. “I want to get better at using technology in the classroom. Teachers ought to throw themselves into something new every once in a while to remind us what it is like to be a beginning learner.”

In addition to being honored at OJC during the All Staff Meeting last week, each of the honorees will be recognized at a special awards ceremony later in the spring, hosted by the Colorado Community College System in Denver.

Press Release Photo
Brooke Matthew, Faculty of the Year, shown with Vice President for Instruction Kim Grimsley and President Jim Rizzuto.

Press Release Photo
Holly Lewis, Admin/Pro-Tech of the Year receives her award from OJC President Jim Rizzuto.