Freeport – Highland Community College employees joined fellow colleagues on January 7, 2016, to honor individuals with this year’s Excellence Award and Opel Award. The awards recognize employees for quality work, creativity, honesty, integrity, self-development and excellence in their professional relationships.
A committee made up of Excellence Awards recipients from the precious two years, selected the winners in the following categories: full-time faculty, administrative/professional staff, and part-time employee. This year’s recipients were Justin Ebert, Shelly Perkins, and Rebecca Anderson. The annual Opel Award was presented to Jim Phillips by the HCC Foundation.
Full-time Faculty: Justin Ebert of Oregon is an agriculture instructor and advisor for the Ag Club. Justin works with agriculture industry leaders and many area farmers to offer the best for his students. Students have given excellent feedback about his teaching style and the hands-on projects he develops. He has taken his students on many site trips to be able to offer them real-world experiences. His relationship with the farming community has helped Highland acquire land for class projects, which has also resulted in donations to the program. He also speaks to area high school students to promote the field of agriculture and the program offered through Highland.
Administrative/Professional Staff: Shelly Perkins of Stockton is the Cafeteria Manager at Highland. Each day, Shelly makes it a point to build on the relationship she has with her customers, which are students, staff and visitors at Highland. She is known for the extra care she has for the students who come to the cafeteria each day, and is free with a hug to each student who needs a little extra. In the two years she has been at Highland, she was improved the quality of the food. She is truly student focused. Shelly also organizes a clothing drive every year for the benefit of students in need. Students can then shop the cafeteria for clothing in a non-threatening way, so they are not embarrassed.
Part-time Employee: Rebecca Anderson of Forreston is the Training Coordinator for the HCC Business Institute. She has been instrumental in helping to develop the newly launched Lifelong Learning initiative. She has a strong commitment to excellence and is able to gather and assimilate information from a vast array of sources. As a Business Institute team member, she works with other team members who have high praise for her quality of work and ability to be a strong team player. She was able to re-establish and create a well-defined working relationship with the Illinois Manufacturing Excellence Consortium (IMEC). This relationship allowed her to coordinate two events with IMEC on campus, which provided great exposure for the College.
Opel Award: The Highland Community College Foundation annually recognizes one employee with the Opel Award, named for one of Highland’s founders, Don Opel. The award recognizes employees who go “above and beyond” in serving or promoting the College. This year the Foundation presented the award to Jim Phillips of Forreston, History and Political Science instructor. Jim exemplifies what this award is about by stepping up to take on the role of interim Dean of Humanities, Social Sciences, and Fine Arts. Even with the challenges of overseeing a department and being an instructor for his students, Jim was instrumental in guiding and facilitating the creation of two new programs and the restoration of the full-time theatre instructor position. He is a key advocate for the fine arts and the increased commitment to strengthening the infrastructure for the arts at Highland. He also teaches classes for the Leadership Institute, a partnership between local organizations and Highland.