Oakton’s Perry named Teacher of the Year
Oakton Community College's Nicole Perry teaches Anatomy and Physiology on Nov. 2. Perry has been named Instructor of the Year by the The Illinois Community College Faculty Association. | Joel Lerner~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 9, 2012 6:09AM
SKOKIE — Oakton Community College biology professor Nicole Perry was recently named the Illinois Community College Association’s Instructor of the Year.
She was nominated by colleague Ruth Williams who said Perry “continually upholds high standards and expectations. She maintains the integrity of her course content, while developing students’ transferable skills — such as critical thinking, literacy, communication and responsibility.”
The award is presented to one Illinois community college faculty member each year who demonstrates teaching and learning excellence, while working actively with the association.
Perry joined Oakton in 2006 as an adjunct and was hired as a full-time instructor in 2009. Before Oakton, she taught at Lake Forest College. Perry has a doctorate from Northwestern University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Perry lives in Skokie with her husband, Michael, and her dog, George.
Q. Why did you decide to become a teacher?
A. As far back as I can remember, I would always play school and make up homework and things like that. I was in second grade when the Challenger exploded, and I remember thinking I want to be like Christa McAuliffe. I always wanted to be a teacher but didn’t know exactly when and where it would happen.
Q. Why did you focus on science?
A. I always knew it would be science or math. My parents always joked they passed down the science and math genes. They’re much more left-brain science and math than they are arts and English.
Q. What courses do you teach and how do your students respond?
A. I teach mostly anatomy and physiology. With anatomy and physiology, we have students who need to take these courses to go on to a career in nursing and other things. It’s a prerequisite for a number of programs we have here at Oakton. I see a wide gamut of students — some who are highly motivated and some who look at it as a means to an end.
Q. What excites you about teaching science?
A. I’m always coming up with creative ideas, and I love being able to put those creative ideas together in the context of science. I’ve had students use sidewalk chalk and draw out blood vessels on a lab bench. I use Plato and have them build a model of a neuron.
Q. What does this honor mean to you?
A. A lot of the hard work and a lot of the time you put into making teaching interactive, that you put into trying to work with students and students’ success, it makes all of the frustrating moments worth it.
Q. What do you like to do when not teaching?
A. I enjoy hiking. This summer we went down to Mammoth Cave. My husband and I for the last 10 years have also coordinated a Habitat trip to Mississippi through our church. We’ve taken down anywhere from 16 to 25 people to work on houses.