2018 AGS Teacher Appreciation Night

– Good evening, everyone, and welcome to this year’s Teacher Appreciation Night. My name is Kendra Laguilles
and I am the president of the Cuesta College
chapter of Alpha Gamma Sigma. I would now like to introduce
to you the other members of our executive cabinet in the order in which they will be speaking. Activities Director, Reily Rocha. (audience applause) Treasurer, Josiah Gilbert. (applause) Vice President for the
slow campus, Sean Kucer (applause) ICC Representative, Christobal Gonzalez (applause) Secretary and Publicity
Director, David Martinez. (applause) Before we begin, I would
like to take a moment to share with you a little
bit about Alpha Gamma Sigma. Alpha Gamma Sigma, or AGS, is the academic honor society
and service organization of the California Community Colleges. AGS members maintain
accumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and perform at least 20 hours of volunteer service per semester to their college in their local community. Tonight, I am excited to announce that AGS has started a
new program this semester. A peer mentoring program
for students here at Cuesta. Many community college
students have difficulty adjusting to the rigor
of college level studies, managing their time, or balancing their academic, work, and family lives. These students could benefit
by speaking to an AGS member. A fellow student who has already demonstrated success in those areas. And as a result is
succeeding academically. We’ve created this program
to pair mentors with mentees, and provide another resource that can help our students succeed. Please spread the word
about this new program. Especially if you know a student who might benefit by having a peer mentor. Now, I’d like to tell you more about Teacher Appreciation Night. It has been a part of Cuesta
College for eight years. It was proposed and brought to life by a past executive cabinet
and has since become an annual tradition for our chapter. Each year, we sent out a
request to our members, your students, asking
them to nominate someone who has gone above and beyond expectations to influence their success here at Cuesta. Tonight, we honor ten
instructional faculty. These honorees were selected
by the executive cabinet after rigorous vetting Of 23 nominations. We are very excited to share students experiences with you tonight. Now, please join me in
welcoming to the stage our honored guest, Cuesta
College superintendent and president, Dr. Jill Stearns. (applause) – Good evening and welcome to Cuesta on this very rainy evening. I don’t know about any of the rest of you, but I am still wet from
running between meetings today. It is wonderful to be
able to welcome you here and to have you join as we
celebrate the excellence that our teachers provide
in support to our students. And I have just been
sitting and reflecting on what an incredible thing it is that AGS has decided
that this is going to be part of the legacy that they have at Cuesta College in
recognizing that work. And so, I wanna say
thank you to our students for not only hosting this event, but for taking time and providing a venue where appreciation can
be genuinely expressed. I also want to extend my congratulations to all of our AGS members
on their academic success and if you would all please
stand so we can recognize you. (applause) That is wonderful and we appreciate also your commitment to
community and college service and appreciate the impact
that you have on others. So, I would like to finally
extend my congratulations to all of our faculty members who are being recognized this evening. I am in awe of and appreciate dearly the work that you do in
support of our students. Thank you. (applause) – Thank you, Dr. Stearns. Without further ado, I’d like to introduce our Activities Director, Reily Rocha, who will present the first honoree. – Thank you, Kendra. Our first nominee would
like to ask Tanya Downing. Unfortunately, she’s not
able to attend tonight. So on her behalf, the Chair of Business
Education, Susan Kline. Would you please join me on stage? (applause) Tanya Downing is the Professor in Economics here at Cuesta College. In answer to the question,
“What has this faculty member “done that has been above and
beyond normal expectations?” An AGS member wrote that Tanya gives each assignments as,
she gives each assignments as it will present to us for our future. She shows us graphs and she
also pertains it to our futures. For example, she gave us a project that pertains to how our economic choice for our career would
affect us in our future. This project could have easily been substituted with akina graphs, but she went above and
beyond and got us familiar with what our possible futures
would be like economically, and if it was a smart choice for us. In answer to the question, “How has she influenced our success, “as a student at Cuesta College,” she increased our understanding
on the topics in economics, and she made it easily to be understood through any level that
we had in that class. She also introduced us to
creating a easier way to study. Which was not meant for economics, but it really influenced
our success here at Cuesta. She wanted to show new ways, and she’s always applying new ways that we can learn in our other
subjects not just economics. So if you could please
join me in congratulating Tanya Downing in her success, and Susan Kline for accepting it. (applause) – I told her I would only do
this if she wrote a speech, and it’s a little bit of a doozy one, so I’ll try to get through it. I wish I could be saying these
words of thanks in person, but I would likely get
choked up at this moment, and need Susan Kline to
say them for me anyway. It’s nice to work with people who are there for you when you need them. Nice. During teacher appreciation
night, I will be attending the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative Conference. Learning interesting ways to build foundational research skills
into the economics classroom. My hope is that conferences like this one will keep me worthy of AGS students. Just as teachers don’t always know what’s going on in the lives of students, students don’t usually
know what’s going on in the lives of their teachers. One Monday this September, as I was setting up for class to start, a student politely asked
how my weekend was. I was caught off guard as Sunday night, I had attended my
father’s memorial service. It seemed astonished to say, I was fine. But it seemed unprofessional to say it was one of the saddest
moments of my life. I don’t remember the exact words I said. Just that it was brief, and honest, and something to the affect that I was blessed to have a great dad. Regardless, I’m sure my response was not what the student was
expecting with his question. But here’s the thing
about Cuesta students. The next class section,
the students who had heard the question and my answer
had all signed a big hug card, and gave it to me at the end of class. Maybe it was a small
gesture to the students, but just like this award and nomination, it made a big impact on me. It’s a moment that showed
me if I have positively influenced my students in one way, it’s very likely that
they have influenced me in another equally positive way. I am humbled and awed by students who take the time to
reflect upon their teachers. Thank you for creating an
appreciation night like this one. This award is another
example of the extraordinary students we find in our
classrooms here at Cuesta. Students who are not only capable of the aggregated expenditures model, and pricey elasticity
of demand calculations, but who also show great
kindness and encouragement. I’m amazed by, and grateful
for Cuesta’s AGS students. Thank you.
(applause) Up next will be our next
speaker, Josiah Gilbert, presenting our next honoree. (applause)
– Thank you, Reily. I’d like to ask Dr. Jeff
Gervasi to the stage. (applause) Dr Gervasi teaches in the Cuesta College Mathematics department. He’s taught at Cuesta
College for four years. In answer to the question,
“What has this faculty member “done that is above and
beyond normal expectations?” An AGS member wrote, Dr
Gervasi shows so much excitement to teach every single day. He’ll walk into the class and shout, “Hey gang, let’s do some math!” I have never had a teacher who
made me want to go to class, and made me want to succeed like he did. Another student wrote, a
year after taking Calc 1, I was taking Calc 3
with another professor, and having difficulty with a problem. I had a chance encounter with Gervasi, and he offered to take a look. Not only did he take a look,
he took the problem home and sent me a worked out
solution early the next morning. That same student continued,
there’s no question. Gervasi is an outstanding
teacher, and a caring individual. And I’m happy for this
opportunity to thank him publicly. In answer to the question, “In what way has this faculty member “influenced your success as
a student at Cuesta College?” An AGS member wrote,
I’m grateful for Dr G’s emphasis on understanding
why we were doing what we were doing in any given problem. Rather than blindly relying
on formulas and memorization, he always took the time to explain the mathematical underpinning of each shortcut or formula that he taught us. This focus on understanding the material gave me a solid foundation as
I moved into Cal 2 and beyond. Please join me in congratulating Dr Jeff Gervasi on his
instructional excellence. (applause) – So I was walking across
the campus from my class. I was in the new building,
which is in like Morro Bay. That’s how far away that is.
(laughter) The sun’s coming up already. So, I’m walking across the campus, and I’m thinking to myself, whatever this one has
to say better be good! Did you see the rain
and the wind out there? Say the truth.
(laughter) And then I contemplated,
I thought to myself, how many four letter words are there? Anyway, in Chris’s letter, he said he wants us to say some words. Some prepared remarks. I thought, you know, you can’t
say that to a math professor. Cuz that’s like a homework assignment! And I’m thinking, challenge accepted. So, here it goes. So, here it goes. Just a few remarks, just a few remarks. Just a few remarks.
(laughter) Just a few remarks. Anyway, I think what is humbling the most, Anyway, I think what is humbling the most, and then listening to
what Susan had to say is that we’re just being ourselves. I don’t think any one of us wakes up to say today is the day. Gonna get that award. Today’s the day, gonna
get that pat on the back. Cuz I don’t think that’s
why we do what we do. But what’s humbling about
this, I think at least for me, is that I’m just being myself,
and these kids noticed. It’s humbling. Thank you. I appreciate it.
(applause) – Thank you Dr Gervasi, and
once again, congratulations. I’d now like to welcome Sean Kucer to present our next honoree. – Thank you, Josiah. I would like to ask
Professor Thomas Hollis to join me on the stage. (applause) Professor Hollis teaches in the Cuesta College Physical
Sciences department. He’s taught at Cuesta
College for 22 years. In answer to the question,
“What has this faculty member “done that is above and
beyond normal expectations?” An AGS member wrote, Tom
Hollis is an excellent teacher. I took his course in the spring of 2018, and thoroughly enjoyed
his system of teaching. I believe he went above and beyond because he teaches here at
Cuesta College in the evening, and spends 5 days of his week teaching high school students here in SLO. I felt he should be
nominated because he never missed one class and
always showed up ready and excited to teach us new material. Not only did he go above and beyond, but he also made sure each
student understood the material. He encouraged us to come early to class to speak with him about anything
that we didn’t understand. Despite traveling to Los
Angeles every weekend to help an ailing family member, he was always back to San Luis by Monday in time for lecture. In answer to the question, “In what way has this faculty member “influenced your success as
a student at Cuesta College?” An AGS member wrote, Professor Hollis was very inspiring to have as a teacher. He inspired me to pursue
my education, and degree. Geology most likely not
everyone’s favorite subject, but Mr Hollis made sure we understood it, and made it fun by tying in our local surroundings with
what he was teaching us. He’d remind us that we
have an impact on Earth, and anything helps to worsen or better it. Another reason he inspired me goes back to how much he juggled on his plate. I knew that he had a lot going on, and he still made sure to be there to teach us with great attitude. Please join me in congratulating,
Professor Thomas Hollis on his instructional excellence. (applause) – Alright, well thank you. I am honored. And yes, I am a high school teacher. It’s interesting I got
a 10 year pin last year, and I was kinda wondering
about that after 22 years. They said they added up all my hours, and they came up to 10 years full-time. (laughter)
So. I just wanted to say just really a couple things about teaching. I do teach at the high school. I teach here at Cuesta. My first 2 semesters at Cuesta, they hired me to teach at the
California Youth Authority. That was actually my first year teaching. And it’s amazing what I
learned from those students. I had 23 students, 22
had been incarcerated for murder under the age of 16. I was locked in a room with
them every night for 3 hours. And just my first year, and it was an amazing experience. Somehow or other, I got it right. And I showed them respect,
and they showed me respect. I also get my high school students here, and it’s an interesting position to get your high school students. I remember early on, I
got a high school student that came over and was very excited about geology and was
gonna major in geology, and I found that I was quite horrified. and I found that I was quite horrified. Somebody you’ve inspired to do that, cuz I truly didn’t have the skills, and that changed how I
became a high school teacher is that I realized I gotta do more than just teach the subject. I have to teach the skills. And that was sort of my point where I realized I had to help every student. Just one other thing I learned this year, I volunteered, actually encouraged this year to teach halftime at
the Continuation high school. Paloma Creek High School
over in Atascadero, and I learned stuff, I
get these realizations, and a couple weeks ago I realized that a lot of students I had thought they were as good as they were gonna get. They were there. And I traced back that how
do you get to this point? And found that their failures in school had made them think that they
had hit the glass ceiling, and they weren’t going to advance anymore. I realized, and this is
one of the first words I heard from these students
up here was the word, success. And that’s what we need to do with every single student if
they’re doing poorly. We have to make them feel successful, and I think I appreciate that, I just wanted to get that out. I appreciate this honor,
and thank you very much. (applause) – Now please welcome, Christobal Gonzalez on stage to introduce our next honoree. (applause) – Good evening everyone. I would like to ask for
Professor Chris Machado to join me on stage. (applause) Professor Machado teaches in the Cuesta College Biological
Sciences department. He has taught at Cuesta
College for 4 years. In answer to the question,
“What has this faculty member “done that is above and
beyond normal expectations?” An AGS member wrote,
Professor Machado’s lectures, and study guides correspond
well with the material that he teaches and
makes sure each student will succeed in his class. Another member echoed their
gratitude for Chris by saying, Professor Machado has
gone above and beyond by acquiring a classroom, so that everyone could be apart of office hour discussions. I have never been in a
class where the teacher goes out of their way
to acquire a large space for office hour review sessions. This is something that he has done for the class this semester, and has contributed greatly
to the success as a class. Every Monday and Wednesday,
I attend office hours, and each time I leave with a greater understanding of our subject. I really enjoy being
in Dr Machado’s class. He’s made it so easy to enjoy the subject, and create new study groups
and physiology friends. We asked our members another question about Professor Chris Machado, and that was, “In what way
has this faculty member “influenced your success as
a student at Cuesta College?” An AGS member wrote, he has helped me time after time in understanding
the material of our class. Physiology is a tough subject, and he has made it very
manageable and fun. On the first week of our class, he told us that all the concepts that we were learning
may be very difficult, but we can better understand them if we relate them to our own life. That has been a really helpful technique, not only in physiology, but in some of my other classes as well. He is a very dedicated teacher, and I have been more successful in my classes because of his help. Please join me this
evening in congratulating Professor Machado on his
instructional excellence. (applause) – I’m not sure exactly what
to do with myself up here, I don’t have my dry erase markers, or my laser pointer,
or anything like that. So, I’m really, this
is very special to me. I made the switch from
being very much a lab rat, neuroscientist about 5 years ago to being a teacher just recently. And this is the first award
that I’ve ever received for that sort of switch. This is gonna be special. (stammers) I’m very honored by it. It was not the easiest transition to make. To go from being in a lab
all the time with animals. Those were really the only, those that you had to
impress on a daily basis. (laughter) Coming here, there was some high points, my first few semesters. There were some rough points,
my first few semesters, but like I tell my students,
I had to adapt to survive. And so, they’ve taught me as much as I hope I’ve taught them
over the last couple years, and I hope to continue every semester learning something new from my students. Because I think that’s what we have to do. Is that we have to continue to always refine what we’re doing, and listen to our students and try to bring something new to it. And I think that’s probably
what I find most exciting, and gets me out of bed in the morning, and it doesn’t really feel like a job. Because everyday, I’m gonna learn something new from my own students. So, yeah, I feel like this has been a really good transition for me, and I’m very proud to accept this award. I really appreciate it. Thank you very much. (applause) – Thank you so much, Professor. Please join me in
welcoming the next member of our executive cabinet,
Mr David Martinez. (applause) – Our next honoree is of
Professor of Marine Biology, Laurie McConnico. Unfortunately, she couldn’t
be at this event with us, so accepting the award
tonight will be Ron Ruppert. (applause) When asked what this
facility member has done that went above and beyond
normal expectations, an AGS member said that she always makes herself available
throughout the week, and provides an abundance of
tools to prepare for exams. Professor McConnico has influenced success in her classroom by implementing study groups among students
to create support systems, within and outside of the classroom. What McConnico is a perfect
example of a professor who is kind, caring, and diligent. In my experience, I’ve had professors that don’t really go the extra extent that Ms McConnico does. Creating groups that
not only create success within inside the classroom,
and outside the classroom. It’s really important, and
helps most students succeed. So please join me in congratulating, Professor McConnico on her
institutional excellence. (applause) – Hello. This is a nice event,
thanks for inviting me, and congratulations to all the work you’ve done to put this together. I asked Laurie, what
do you want me to say? And she said, just be me. Just say thanks because
that’s all I would do, and quickly hide.
(laughter) Cuz you know Laurie, she on the surface is very shy and retiring, but where she shines is in the classroom. So you have to see her in the
class to really know Laurie, and know why she has received this award, so for her, thank you. (applause) – Thank you, Mr Ruppert. And please welcome back onto
the podium, Riley Rocha. – Hi, I would like to now ask Professor Angela Neary
on the stage with me. (applause) – Dr Neary teaches in the
Kinesiology Health Sciences and Rec departments here at Cuesta College for the past 10 years. In answer to the question,
“What has this faculty member “done that has been above and
beyond normal expectations?” An AGS member wrote that Dr Neary shows exceptional dedication
with her involvement in on and off campus
events, class activities, and lab assignments. I too agree with this member. After taking all 4 of
Dr Neary’s Rec classes. Her dedication to her students and her community is inspiring. For example, one of our lab assignments required a set number
of hours to volunteer at the San Luis FSBO’s
Special Olympics Organization. The amount of preparation she provided to her students to go out, and try something new was encouraging, and she took away any
worries that we may have had. Because of this project,
I still am involved in the San Luis FSBO’s
Special Olympics Organization. In answer to the question,
“What has this faculty member influenced your success as a
student at Cuesta College?” I can say that Dr Neary provided me, as well as all the student in her class, the appropriate information
to get us prepared for our futures as Parks and Rec majors. She went above and beyond with providing endless amounts of careers that we could have within this major. For example, another project we had was to go out into our community, and interview someone in a career field that we may have the
slightest bit of interest in. This was one of my favorite projects because I now have been
at my current employment for the past year now,
and am even more certain about what I want to do for my future. This project helped me get
out of my comfort zone, and get into an area that
I was not familiar with. It has made taking
classes at Cuesta easier because I am more motivated, and can see how these classes will apply to my future. Please join me in
congratulating, Professor Neary on her instructional excellence. (applause) – Well thank you, Reily. And thank you for the nomination as well. When I received the letter
from Chris in the morning, I said, Chris, you made my morning. (laughs) Because it did make my morning. I’m honored to receive this award. I’m pretty excited to be standing up here. And I want to thank Allison, and my husband Brian for being here. And Scott, thanks for coming as well. And Jason, as well, thanks for being here. I’ve been teaching for a long time, and when I came to Cuesta, I started teaching in the Rec
and Administration program. So, I was in charge of that program, and still continue to be in charge. And I love what I do. We just had an event today
where we got to offer free ice cream, a clothing exchange. Kind of a de-stress area for students. And it was just so much fun to watch the students brainstorm. You were there, I saw you. (laughs) Brainstorm the event themselves, and then bring it to life. And watch them grow, and also
watch you grow as a student. And it’s fun because
they come into my classes very nervous and worried,
and how can I stand up in front of a group of people and speak? And I said, well this is what you’re gonna do for the rest of your life. You’re gonna be standing up in front of a group of people and sharing programs, and showing them what recreation
and leisure is all about. And so, it’s fun to watch them grow and get more comfortable
with the experiences, whether it’s through special Olympics, or speaking in front of community members, it’s awesome to see the
light in their eyes. And I’m so proud to be
able to do that with them, and alongside of them, and teach them. I remember one semester
we had special Olympics. This might have been your
class, I can’t remember. We had special Olympics area meet, and I had them there at 7:30 in the morning in the classroom. We ate breakfast, and it was dead silent. And I thought, “Uh-oh.” (laughs) “I hope they pep up a little bit!” And we came back at 1:00 to
debrief in the classroom, and they were giving
each other high fives, and so excited for the experience that they had just had,
and started talking about the athletes that they saw, and athletes that they impacted, and I thought, “Phew,
we got through that.” And they did a great job,
so it was pretty exciting. But what I do in the Recreation Administration
Program is a thrill. It’s a lot of work, but I love watching the students blossom each semester. So I’m really honored
to receive this award. I really appreciate all of you that are here tonight to be
with us, to accept the awards. Thank you so much. (applause) – Thank you, Angela. I would now like to ask Sean Kucer back on stage to present the next honoree. – I would like to Dr Gabriel
Searcy to join me on stage. (applause) Professor Searcy teaches
in the Cuesta College Social Sciences and Applied
Behavioral Sciences departments. He has taught at Cuesta
College for 5 years. In answer to the question,
“What has this faculty member “done that is above and
beyond normal expectations?” An AGS member wrote, he truly appreciates the feedback he gets from his students. When he asks his students for input, you’re able to see the
difference in his later lectures. He truly cares about his students, and is willing to offer them
help if they are struggling. Another thing I find impressive about him is that if he knows you are
interested in a subject, he will try to relate his lectures to it. He likes to learn about his students, and find ways so that they can understand the material better. In answer to the question, “In what way has this faculty member “influenced your success as
a student at Cuesta College?” An AGS member wrote, he tries his best to relate everything we learned to how it will be useful in the real world. This also helps because it makes it easier to learn the material and appreciate it since it will be needed in the future. I enjoy the advice he
gives us on our future and in which ways we can be successful. He also is extremely
enthusiastic when teaching, and he gives us good
feedback in his class. Please join me in
congratulating, Dr Gabriel Searcy on his instructional excellence. (applause) – So it’s a true honor
to receive this award. And I’ve been thinking about
what I could say tonight. The thing that I decided that I would say is that I didn’t earn
this award on my own. I have a lot of help. And so, I just want to take a quick moment to acknowledge those
people who have contributed beginning with Matthew Green. You gave me the opportunity to teach incarcerated students at CMC. And not only that, but you have helped me. Given me the room, the ability to grow and flourish in that capacity. So that this has become a
hugely important endeavor to me. I have developed this ability
to help these students become more responsible,
and give them hope become more responsible,
and give them hope in terms of eventually getting released, and becoming productive
members of society. So I’m gonna thank you for that. In addition, I’d also like
to thank Cherie Moore. As the chair of the Applied
Behavioral Sciences division, you have offered me a
plethora of HDHS classes that I can teach to these
incarcerated students. Classes like Lifespan Development, Life Management, Drug
Education and Prevention. And I just want to note
that has really added to my ability to reach these students, and over the course of the years that I’ve been teaching them, I’ve observed them become
more reflective, and inspired, and want to return to the community, and become these productive citizens that we all can coexist with. So I appreciate that, thank you. In addition to that, I’d like
to thank Madeline Medeiros. As my dean, I’ve had a
few interactions with you where afterwards, I have
walked aways saying to myself, next time, I’m gonna do that thing better! So I just want to thank you,
for giving me that challenge. In addition to that,
I’d also like to thank my very good friend, Eleanor. No matter how odd, or eccentric I have revealed myself to be, you make me feel like you
accept me and you like me. And not only that, but I also see you as like this lovely muse who stimulates within me a
great degree of creativity that I love to experience with you, and that often, gets
reflected in the classroom. And I’ve got a few students who’ll tell you that they appreciate that! So thank you for that. In addition, I’d also like
to thank my mom and dad. You have been a foundation
of support my entire life. Both emotionally, economic, in everything. And because of that, I feel like I have always been able to set aside day to day necessities
and just simply focus on being the best professor
I possibly can be. So I want to thank you for that. Finally, I’d like to address
my student, Elizabeth. I made you promise to
come to my office hours, sit down and explain to me exactly what it was that I did right. To be deserving of this award. And I just want to say, that in return, I promise you that I will always emphasis that quality in all of my future classes. Thank you all very much. (applause) – Congratulations Dr Searcy. And now, Christobal Gonzalez will introduce our next honoree. – Thank you so much, Sean. I would like to ask
Professor Erich Andrew Tucker to join me on stage. (applause) Professor Tucker teaches
in the Cuesta College Language and Communication department as a teacher of American sign language. He has taught at Cuesta
College for 5 years. In answer to the question,
“What has this faculty member “done that is above and
beyond normal expectations?” An AGS member wrote, Erich
is an amazing ASL teacher. Who is passionate about
his student’s success. I am grateful to have him
as my instructor, excuse me. As he is always willing to help me learn new signs and concepts of deaf culture. He goes out of his way
to make sure his students understand the material presented, and he has us play ASL games to better understand the concepts
related to the subject matter. I am forever grateful his teaching style, and passion for the subject. He is very inclusive, and encourages student interaction and
questions on a daily basis. He makes sure to create
a welcome environment and a safe space where
making mistakes is okay. He goes out of his way to
organize group study sessions, and offers, excuse me, where he offers over an hour of help for
preparation for a test. He updates his classes on events outside of the classroom so that we may broaden the context of our lessons. In answer to the question, “In what way has this faculty member “influenced your success
at Cuesta College?” An AGS member wrote, he made
we want to go out of my way to understand the true
significance of what I’m learning. Instead of memorizing
vocabulary for tests, or quickly scanning through information in textbooks with a
priority of a good grade, he actually made me want to
engage with the material, and analyze it from
several different angles. His enthusiasm was incredibly refreshing, and it made me excited to
come to class everyday. Even when I wasn’t feeling at my best. Now that I no longer take ASL, I try to miss as few of my
other classes as possible because I know that that class could contain the one hidden gem that ties everything
together and makes the next meetings all the more interesting. Erich always encouraged his students to ask for help if they don’t
understand the material, and is more than willing to help me understand the science I don’t quite get. He is amazing at keeping
us motivated to succeed. I am forever grateful for his knowledge, and passion for student success. Please join me this
evening in congratulating, Professor Tucker on his
instructional excellence. (applause) – Wow. I’m gonna take my 5 minutes of fame. (laughter) I’m truly humbled and honored to be receiving this award tonight. I would like to offer my
sincerest gratitude to AGS, as well as the number of
students who nominated me. I did not make the journey
into education alone. There have been numerous
people over the last five years that have supported me along the way. I have been privileged
to have amazing mentors both inside and outside Cuesta College. In fact, some of those
mentors are here today. Their continued guidance,
support, encouragement, and mentoring have molded me into the instructor that I am today. I believe that a mold
is never truly finished, until you’ve either retired, or grown too old to know
what you’re doing anymore. (laughter) So with that said, you’re stuck
with me for 35 more years. (laughter) 5 years ago, I moved to San
Luis Obsibo with my family. My wife of 13 years,
Sarah, and two toddlers. Needing a job to support my family, I applied to Cuesta College, as a part-time ASL
instructor on a subbasis for a faculty member on medical leave. At the time, I never envisioned I would find my calling
and passion with teaching, and inspiring students in the
classroom in just 18 weeks. That first semester
changed everything for me. After months, convincing and prodding by colleagues, and
administrators, and students, I pursued a master’s degree
over a grueling 18 month period, all while raising 2 toddlers
along with a newborn. Establishing roots in San Luis Obsibo, continuing to ensure my students were successful in my classroom, and not losing my mind in the process. I would not be here today without that support and encouragement. And I sincerely thank
everyone who is here tonight. It means everything to me. Many of my students that sit, or have sat in my classroom
face same struggles and challenges that I’ve
faced throughout my lifetime as both a student and a member of society. I promised myself the first day I stepped into the classroom to teach, that I would work everyday to make a difference in their lives. If I could inspire just one
student to change the world, I’ve lived a very rich life. I am proud to come to work everyday to inspire students to reach for their highest dreams and never give up. I didn’t give up, and I won’t
let them give up either. Some of those same
students are here tonight. Please acknowledge them. (applause) In conclusion, I want to again express how grateful I am to receive this award. Especially knowing that I would with the faculty and staff on this campus who have been here a
lot longer than I have, who are equally deserving. However, I am even more grateful for the opportunity to be an instructor here at Cuesta College. I consider it an honor to walk into the classroom everyday, not knowing whose life
I will inspire that day, or which student will
share their dreams with me, and ask how to make it possible. While awards, degrees, and compliments, are wonderful to receive,
just knowing you inspired a student in their educational journey is truly reward enough. Thank you again. (applause) – Thank you again, Professor. If you would all join me
for our next presenter, Miss Kendra Laguilles to
present our next award. – Thank you, Christobal. Our next honoree is
Professor of Communications, Matt Vasques. Unfortunately, Professor Vasques
could not be here tonight, and accepting the award on his behalf is the dean of Arts,
Humanities, and Social Sciences, Madeline Medeiros Taylor. I’d like to welcome Miss
Medeiros Taylor to the stage. (applause) Professor Vasques
teaches in Cuesta College Languages and Communications department. He has taught at Cuesta
College for 21 years. In answer to the question,
“What has this faculty member “done that is above and
beyond normal expectations?” An AGS member wrote, there
wasn’t a single speech day that didn’t end with him raving about how hard we had worked
and how much it had shown. This feedback came from a place of him genuinely believing
that we could do better. He was excited for us to do better. He was pushing us to improve, and it came from a place in him that knew exactly what we were feeling. He was clearly passionate
about public speaking and the practicality of it, and the necessity of staying in touch with the changing medium
for speaking to an audience. At no point in the 9 week course did you doubt he was on your side, or that he’d go the extra mile to make sure you understood
your area of opportunity. The student that had
nominated Professor Vasques also happened to be a
previous AGS president. She had taken public speaking after having opened and closed Teacher Appreciation Night
for 2 years in a row. She emphasized how much she wished she had taken Professor
Vasques’ class so much sooner. The student wrote that
what made this class so influential was the ability to learn how to manage speech apprehension. She wrote, Professor Vasquez explained that a speech is divided into many aspects including delivery,
audience consideration, and visuals aids. But if you’ve done all
of your preparation, you just have to focus on managing the apprehension the day of. What she had learned from
him made her final year leading Teacher Appreciation
Night a huge success, not only for the cabinet,
but for herself as well. A once horrific feast of stress, was reduced to a clear
and direct plan of action. Breaking it down took the
fear out of the equation, and allowed you to focus on the message. In conclusion, the student stated, this class didn’t just make
us better at our assignments, it made us better as
individuals in society, and that’s a huge achievement. Please join me in congratulating, Professor Vasques on his
instructional excellence. (applause) – Good evening everybody. I’d also like to thank
Alpha Gamma Sigma members and Dr Chris Gilbert for
providing this opportunity for us to recognize our
excellent faculty here at Cuesta. As a dean here at Cuesta, I have the great opportunity to observe a lot of faculty in their classrooms, and I can say that I am just incredibly proud of our faculty as well. And I can also tell you
that Professor Matt Vasques is an excellent instructor, and an excellent speech instructor because he wrote a speech this
is under 1 and half minutes, and in fact he told me
it is 70 seconds long. In sincerity, I know he is
an excellent instructor, I have had the opportunity to observe him in his classroom as well, and to see his students feedback
so I can attest to that. So here is his 70 second speech. First, let me just say thank you to AGS, and to Professor Chris Gilbert. Second, I would like to thank Bailey Passmore for her nomination. Bailey is an outstanding individual. She was a student I both enjoyed working with and learning from. As a teacher, to be
recognized by one’s students is among the highest
reward of our profession. Students know better
than anyone on campus, when you recognize the
work we do as teachers, whether during the course,
or a few years later, it is deeply meaningful and appreciated. It is even more meaningful when
it comes from AGS students. There is no higher honor
for me, professionally, than to be acknowledged by the top performing students on campus. You have a keener sense of critical engagement and analytical acuity. You measure and weigh
outcomes, assess consequences, and serve others in the community. It is one thing to be
acknowledged by students, but it is quite another to be acknowledged by those who will use their humanity, and intelligence to create a better world. Put simply, you give
me hope for the future and I thank you for that. Again, I would like to
thank Bailey Passmore, and the students of AGS
for this recognition. I wish you all the very
best in your endeavors. Sincerely, Matt Vasques. (applause) – Thank you, Miss Medieros Taylor, and once again, congratulations. Our treasurer, Josiah Gilbert, will present the next honoree. – I’d like to ask Dr Joe
Vasta to join me on the stage. (applause) Dr Vasta teaches in the Cuesta College Mathematics department. He has taught at Cuesta
College for 17 years. In answer to the question,
“What has this faculty member “done that is above and
beyond normal expectations?” An AGS member wrote, Dr Vasta is one of Cuesta College’s most
exceptional teachers. Balancing an amazingly clear and affective teaching style with a
crazy sense of humor, Dr Vasta makes learning math not only as easy as
possible, but also enjoyable. A friend of mine referred to the class we have with Dr Vasta as comedy hour. Lest there be any confusion,
this was Math 287. Linear Algebra and Differential Equations. The highest math offered
at Cuesta College. Vasta’s ability to present this
frequently abstruse material in a completely understandable way, without compromising on the
real complexity of the subject, and all the while cracking
the most ludicrous jokes, made that class one of the most memorable I’ve taken at community college. Vasta once told our class, if you don’t have one good laugh everyday,
then what’s the point? Well, I’d like to thank you, Dr Vasta, for giving me that laugh
everyday last Spring. I’ll never forget it. In answer to the question, “In what way has this faculty member “influenced your success as
a student at Cuesta College?” Another AGS member wrote, Vasta has helped influence my success
as a student at Cuesta by using different teaching styles to help me find out how I learned best. I really struggle with
graphing maps sometimes, and so he would almost always show the solutions to equations both geometrically and mathematically. Now, whenever possible, I
look at graphical solutions to help me get a better overall understanding of a given math problem. Yet another student wrote, Joe Vasta has inspired
me to put in the hours needed to be successful in
a college level math course. The class atmosphere is very comfortable, and I never hesitate to ask questions. Having a professor as
smart and patient as Vasta has encouraged me to not
only want to get good grades, but to actually want to learn, and get something more out of school. Please join me in congratulating, Dr Joe Vasta on his
instructional excellence. (applause) – I have speech apprehension. I’m just getting my voice back. And I’d like to thank the
students who nominated me, and thank you for having up me here. What I want to say is
that love teaching math, and I know that kind of, some people are like,
that doesn’t make sense. I just love coming to work, and perhaps it was because I worked at Department of Defense for a few years, and that job I really hated, and I would feel like the day went by, and I’d look at my watch
and it’d only be 9:15. (laughter) And when I came back
to California to teach, the day just flew by. I love interacting with the students. I am very, I feel like
I don’t deserve this. Like Jeff said, I’m just
coming and being myself. And it’s just fun to see
students learn and laugh. We probably once a semester, or I think everyday, I don’t know. That may have been an
exaggeration, and just live. This is quite an honor. And I want to thank God
for giving me a job here. He gets the glory for
any talent that I have. And once again, thank you for
the nomination, and for this. (applause) – Thank you. Thank you, Dr Vasta, and
congratulations once again. I’d like to now welcome Kendra Laguilles back to the stage for
some closing remarks. – Thank you, Josiah. I’d like to take a moment now, and give some special
thanks to a couple of people who helped make tonight’s success. Thank you, Dr Stearns for
attending tonight’s event, and for helping us honor
these outstanding individuals. (applause) Thank you to Richie Bermudez
from the Advancement Office for his help with technology, photographs, and promotion of Teacher
Appreciation Night. (applause) Corner Boost, one of our
student convos here at Cuesta for joining us tonight and
providing great live music. (applause) The volunteers that helped us
set up throughout the night, and put up all the lovely decorations. (applause) To my executive cabinet for working hard throughout their busy semesters
to plan this special night. (applause) For advisor, Dr Gilbert,
for keeping us on track, and always encouraging us to do our best. (applause) And finally, I would like to acknowledge the reason we are all
gathered here tonight. To honor these 10
wonderful faculty members. Thank you so much for the hard work and dedication you’ve put towards student success here at Cuesta College. Congratulations once again. (applause) Thank you everyone for coming tonight. Please continue to enjoy
the food and music. And the honorees, and officers, if you could please join me
on stage for some photographs. (applause)

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