Distinguished Teaching Awards presented to faculty
Mark E. Sones, instructor of diesel equipment technology, was presented with the Veronica M. Muzic Master Teacher Award, the highest honor accorded to a faculty member at the college.
Bridget E. Motel, instructor of dental hygiene, received an Excellence in Teaching Award.
Both presentations were made during an Employee Recognition Week event held in Bardo Gymnasium and livestreamed across campus.
Distinguished Teaching Awards are presented to full-time faculty at Penn College who have been nominated by their students and colleagues for excellence in instructional performance. Including this year’s honorees, there have been 117 recipients since the program began in 1982: 34 Master Teacher Awards and 83 Excellence in Teaching Awards.
“Teaching is at the very heart of what we do at Penn College, and we are truly blessed to have high-quality faculty members like Mark and Bridget helping us to prepare our students for careers as ‘tomorrow makers’ in a wide range of essential occupations,” President Davie Jane Gilmour said. “Their ongoing commitment to students, especially during extraordinary times such as we have experienced in the past year, epitomizes our mission and values.”
Sones has been employed at Penn College since 1994. He earned an Associate of Applied Science in diesel technology from Penn College predecessor Williamsport Area Community College, as well as a certificate in diesel mechanics. He has also worked as an instructor for Volvo Powertrain/Mack Trucks of America, Hagerstown, Maryland, since 1998, and was owner/manager of Ye Olde Cycle Barn from 1984-97.
Comments from his nominating documentation include:
“Mark truly is a ‘Master Teacher’ when it comes to the diesel industry. He has been at it for 30-plus years and hasn’t stopped learning new ways to excite not only his students, but his colleagues, as well. He is the go-to transmission and powertrains guy. He can answer and walk you through a problem from a dirt bike to heavy duty truck.”
“Teaching is one of the most complex jobs today, and Mark nails it. There are so many qualities required, extensive knowledge of subject matter, curriculum and standards. It requires a person to be enthusiastic, have a caring attitude, and a love of learning. Mark’s knowledge of the discipline and his classroom management technique, coupled with a craving to make a difference in the lives of the students, makes him a perfect candidate for this award.”
A student spoke of Sones’ ingenuity and dedication when COVID-19 governmental restrictions forced the college to pivot to remote instruction. “Mr. Sones went above and beyond for his students during this time. He set up his GoPro (camera) in his classroom to present his lectures. He made online learning for a hands-on trade a little easier for us. He wanted us to get as much information in as we could with the circumstances. ... Mr. Sones has made a giant impact on my life and other students.”
A colleague spoke of Sones’ selflessness: “When there is a need to be at the Earth Science Center the weekend before classes start for toolbox drop-off, he is there. When a family shows up after Open House is over and wants a tour, he tells everyone to go and covers it. ... His phone is constantly ringing with alumni asking questions about problems they come across at work. He is more than just an instructor!”
Motel has been employed at Penn College since 2010 and has been a member of the full-time faculty since 2019. She serves as co-adviser for the Student American Dental Hygienists Association chapter at the college. She holds a Master of Education in lifelong learning and adult education and a graduate certificate in distance education from Penn State; a Bachelor of Science in general studies – emphasis health education from Lock Haven University; and an Associate of Applied Science in dental hygiene from WACC.
Motel has also worked as a dental hygienist in a variety of professional office settings since 1985.
Comments from her nominating documentation include:
“Mrs. Motel has very diverse life experiences that she incorporates into her lessons. She is very approachable and always available to her students. She talks to us like the professionals she is helping to mold us to be, not just students.”
“Mrs. Motel is a great facilitator and supporter. She encourages us to go above and beyond and gives us the support necessary to do so. She encouraged me to present my poster at a state conference, and we ended up placing fourth. We couldn't have done this or would have even wanted to do it without her encouragement.”
“Mrs. Motel is wonderful in the clinic setting of the dental hygiene program. Her positivity and encouragement increases the self-esteem of students, and their performance is improved.”
“Her love of the profession is evident, and she goes above and beyond to ensure her students succeed. From the moment I met Mrs. Motel, I was instantly drawn to her enthusiasm for her career. Not only does she care about her students excelling in the classroom, she genuinely cares about us as people. I'm so grateful to have had the experience of Mrs. Motel preparing me to become a successful registered dental hygienist.”
For more about Penn College, a national leader in applied technology education, email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.
– Photos by Cindy Davis Meixel, writer/photo editor, and Larry D. Kauffman, digital publishing specialist/photographer
Excellence in Teaching honors were presented to Motel, who joined the faculty two years ago after leaving her full-time position as a dental hygienist. "It has been the most rewarding change I've ever made," the instructor said. "Working with our students, who are eager to learn to care for the oral health and well-being of the people in their communities, is a gift."
The Veronica M. Muzic Master Teacher medal – carrying the literal weight of institutional importance – is placed around Sones' neck by President Gilmour. He is the 34th person to be awarded the college's highest faculty honor, named for its first recipient.
Among the people thanked by the newest Master Teacher was "the coolest dude" he knows: a near-octogenarian Dad who still works six days a week in his automotive garage and who years ago offered this advice: "If you find something that you enjoy doing, son, you'll never work a day in your life." Sones told his all-college audience on Thursday, "I have ... and I haven't!"
Charitable in sharing the attention, Sones thanks the many mentors, past and present, whose counsel has shaped his decades of service. "Take time to reflect on what you feel inspires you the most in your education and in your educational career," he said. "Don't hesitate to tap the wisdom from the great ones, as I have. And never forget that student success is the reason that we're all here."