Every year, Colorado Mountain College invites each of its campuses to nominate adjunct and full-time instructors for faculty of the year awards. Both college employees and students influence the nominations, which are then awarded to the deserving faculty members.
Full-time associate professor Carol Turrin and adjunct faculty member Jannine Walldan received the awards for the Summit campus, which includes facilities in Dillon and Breckenridge.
In addition, Walldan received the collegewide award for top adjunct professor, which senior college administrators choose out of the pool of honorees selected by each campus.
Walldan said she was shocked when she learned she had won the awards.
"I was super surprised," she said. "I had no idea, because, I mean, I'm completely new to teaching."
"Completely new" may be an exaggeration. Walldan started at CMC in the spring of 2010, teaching classes on anatomy and physiology. Now she also teaches a class called Science of Biology, where she interacts with students who are taking it as their required science credit.
"A lot of them aren't really interested in science at all (at firsts)," Walldan said, but that doesn't bother her, as she enjoys changing their minds. "Then once they get into the class, I always make the joke of trying to turn them over to the dark side. I don't have a problem with attendance - people come and have fun."
Walldan received her bachelor's degrees in biology and Spanish from Carthage College in Wisconsin, followed by a master's degree in acupuncture and a doctorate of naturopathic medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle. She moved to Summit County in 2007 to practice naturopathic medicine.
In addition to teaching at CMC and maintaining her practice, Walldan work at the Summit Community Care Clinic several days a week. Though it keeps her busy, Walldan says that the hands-on experience of treating patients helps her in the classroom as well.
"Teaching just seems to come naturally and I enjoy it a lot, but I think, too, having to look back at everything, I need to be seeing my patients too, so I can give my students a really good perspective on this," she said.
Her teaching job challenges her, she says, particularly when it comes to deciding the best way to convey knowledge to her students.
"I struggle always with delivery of material - what is the best way where I can access everybody's learning style, where I can make sure that I'm conveying the information in a manner that's easy to understand," she said. "Every semester is an evolution."
What she likes best is when she finally does overcome that challenge and finds just the right method of teaching each topic.
"My favorite part is when I can see my students get the 'aha' moment when they understand what I'm talking about."
Walldan says she's grateful for the award and looking forward to teaching more classes at the college.
"Thanks to my students for teaching me just as much as I teach them," she said, "and to CMC and Justin (Pollack) for giving me the opportunity to do this."
Carol Turrin has been an associate professor at CMC for six years and taught at least 10 different classes. Currently she teaches nursing curriculum, including leadership and management, medical/surgical nursing and the senior clinical practicum.
Turrin knows the nursing profession inside and out, having spent 41 years as a full-time nurse. Additionally, she holds master's degrees in nursing and business and spent more than 40 years in clinical and administrative nursing positions. She's practiced medicine in Florida, Chicago, Denver and Summit County
"I've been around the block," she said with a laugh. "I've enjoyed my career immensely."
When first asked if she would consider a position at CMC, Turrin wasn't sure she would like it very much. Fortunately, she took a chance anyway and quickly learned that she had an aptitude for teaching.
"It's been great," she said. "I actually do love it. It's been a wonderful change."
Her favorite part is working with the students and passing on the knowledge that she's accumulated from her years in the field.
"I think it's the student interaction, because I've been in nursing for so long that I finally know something," she said with a laugh. "I feel like I can help the students learn the things I never understood very well until 10 to 15 years in the profession. I really can highlight the things that pulled it together for me. That's what I like the most, is the student interaction and watching the light bulb go off when they get something."
Teaching hasn't staunched Turrin's thirst for knowledge or passion for the nursing profession, however. If anything, it has enhanced it. She's contemplating entering a Ph.D. program and makes sure to keep up with the latest news within the industry.
"It keeps you up to date on stuff, and I have sympathy for the students," she said. "It keeps me sharp. I've learned a ton being a teacher."
This year marks the second time that Turrin has been recognized as faculty member of the year.
"To get it a second time was really shocking," she said. "I didn't even think it was possible, so I was very surprised."
Turrin said she's looking forward to continuing at CMC as well as continuing her own personal education.
"My heart is really in Summit County. I love the people at Summit hospital and CMC. I've just had a great opportunity," she said. "I'm glad to be here working."