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LSC-North Harris professor named winner of Roueche Excellence Award

Lone Star College-North Harris mathematics professor Ellen Turnell was recently selected as a recipient of the John and Suzanne Roueche Excellence Award, sponsored by the League of Innovation.

John E. and Suanne D. Roueche, leaders in the community college field and early proponents of the idea that teachers have major responsibility for how well students perform in the classroom, have been partners and friends of the League for Innovation in the Community College for over thirty-five years.

In recognition of the long tradition of excellence in community college teaching and leadership, the League established the John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Awards in 2012. These awards are open to League Alliance member institutions to celebrate outstanding contributions and leadership by community college faculty and staff. Recipients are recognized in a series of activities and promotions, and honored at special events at the League's Innovations conference each spring.

Recipients of the Roueche Excellence Award are selected through a process that determines the Lone Star College Faculty Excellence Awards. After accepting a nomination by a student or colleague, there is a rigorous application process, which requires examples of teaching and evaluations that are sent to the Faculty Excellence Committee for review. The committee observes and assesses the teaching of all the applicants and points from a variety of criteria to make the final selection.

Turnell has been a professor of math at LSC-North Harris for 22 years and has made a tremendous impact on campus and in the lives of her students.

From a young age, Turnell had developed a special interest in wanting to teach others. “I can’t remember when I didn’t want to be a teacher,” said Turnell. “In fact, in sixth grade, I was already tutoring first and second graders in math. No one inspired me; I just knew that was what I wanted to do.”

Turnell’s talents were greatly noticed when she got the idea to spearhead the “flipped classroom model” with another instructor at LSC-North Harris in fall 2012, where they began a journey of exploring the newest method of advanced learning.

In a traditional math class, students hear the instructor’s lecture, then go home to work math problems for homework. In a flipped class, these activities are switched. Homework is watching a video of the instructor’s lecture. During class, students work the problems, with the instructor available to help. After concluding the pilot classes, they were proven to be very beneficial.

One factor contributing to the improved outcomes is that a student who has trouble understanding something or missed what the instructor said can rewind the video and watch the lecture again. In addition, rather than working math problems individually, students can rely on classmates and their professor for help understanding the coursework.

In short, a flipped class frees the instructor’s time from a traditional classroom lecture, so they can provide more one-on-one attention to the students.

“I love it,” said Turnell. “I read about these classes and reached out to other instructors in the flipped classroom community, and this sounded like something that I could do. Teaching this class has really challenged me to step outside of the box.”

The proven success of the first year of flipped classes at LSC-North Harris has also opened the door for more students to take advantage of these classes in the future.

Many students enter college with a fear of taking math classes, but with Turnell’s constant encouragement, passion and patience, it has now become a subject that many of her students enjoy.

“Turnell’s seasoned experience, mixed with eagerness for new challenges, has really made her a truly valuable contributor to the college,” said Dr. Tosha Barclay, interim vice president of instruction at LSC-North Harris.

“I am overjoyed to receive this award. I love teaching and learning how to use technology to become a more effective and innovative teacher,” added Turnell.

Turnell was presented with the John and Suzanne Roueche Excellence Award at the Innovations Conference in in March in San Francisco. She was also recognized at the Lone Star College Employee Awards Ceremony.

Lone Star College-North Harris is located at 2700 W.W. Thorne Drive, one-half mile south of FM 1960 East, between Aldine-Westfield and Hardy Roads. For more information about the college, call 281.618.5400 or visit LoneStar.edu/NorthHarris.

Lone Star College offers high-quality, low-cost academic transfer and career training education to 98,000 students each semester. LSC is training tomorrow’s workforce today and redefining the community college experience to support student success. Stephen C. Head, Ph.D., serves as chancellor of LSC, the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area with an annual economic impact of $3.1 billion. LSC consists of six colleges, eight centers, two university centers, Lone Star Corporate College and LSC-Online. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.

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