LEVELLAND – Excellence can be found in the center of academic supremacy. The ability to gain the respect and admiration of fellow teachers through dedication, enthusiasm and professionalism are the traits of an outstanding educator.
Sharon Race, professor of English, has been recognized as the recipient of the 2019 Faculty Excellence Award at South Plains College. The award recognizes a faculty member for exemplary work in the classroom, service to the college and service to the community.
“My primary role at SPC is teaching,” she said. ”It is a joyous, rewarding task. Helping a student untangle his or her thoughts to construct a coherent essay outline, master in-text citations or identify with a character’s sense of alienation in a short story never gets old.”
Mrs. Race has taught for 26 years after joining the SPC faculty in 1993. Since August 2015, she has served as chairperson of the English and Philosophy Department. The English Department consists of 20 full-time faculty members, nine part-time adjuncts and 12 high school dual-credit adjuncts for a total of 41 instructors.
“I’m responsible for scheduling these instructors to teach around 195 sections of English, Philosophy, and English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) as well as Integrated Reading and Writing each fall and spring semester and 80 sections each summer,” she said.
This semester, Mrs. Race developed and taught an online English corequisite course for students unable to register for the preferred face-to-face courses. She built weekly instruction modules; created new instructional videos, grammar and reading quizzes and assignments; incorporated Hippocampus videos and NROC EdReady content; and added several videos and assignments on non-cognitive topics such as growth mindset, overcoming obstacles, time management, career planning and budgeting. She has incorporated task scheduling and feedback strategies to encourage student engagement which has resulted in a 94 percent retention rate with 73 percent of the students on track to complete the corequisite with a “C” or better and 60 percent with an “A” or “B.”
Mrs. Race said she learned about the concept of “inclusive access,” a new method of delivering course materials via Blackboard to all enrolled students on the first day of class. She hopes to pilot inclusive access to course textbooks and online labs/online tutoring in the freshman composition dual-credit internet courses, possibly as early as Spring 2020 if the program is approved.
Last fall, Mrs. Race was instrumental in the formal opening of the new SPC Writing Centers on all SPC campuses. The Writing Centers are a joint venture of the English Department and the Teaching and Learning Center to provide face-to-face writing centers/labs to assist both students and SPC staff with their writing projects. English faculty Stephen Sanders, Buffy Rattan and Kay McClellan have provided support for the center along with two student tutors.
For the last two years, Mrs. Race said several English composition faculty have partnered with Dr. Gail Malone, director of SPC’s Teaching and Learning Center and Education Department as well as Title V project director, to bring SPC into compliance with Texas House Bill 2223. The bill supports assistance for underprepared students so that they can persist and successfully complete their developmental coursework in English.
“It’s been rewarding to work with enthusiastic, creative faculty from both departments to create SPC corequisite English courses,” she said. “These corequisite courses (taught by the same instructor) allow students to take Composition I with the help of the integrated reading and writing support course, and students are accelerated through developmental English.”
Mrs. Race has provided training to area high school English teachers to teach the state mandated college preparatory English-language arts course, which allows students who enroll at SPC to waive taking the TSI reading and writing tests for placement in college-level courses. She leads these training sessions each fall and spring at the Region 17 Educational Service Center and as needed throughout the year. She has provided this service to her peers since June 2014.
Working along with Dr. Nimi Finnigan, the colleagues collaborated on program development and course additions in ESOL and philosophy. They enhanced the SPC ESOL program by restructuring the courses, hiring an ESOL adjunct and offering the courses at both the Levelland and Reese campuses. In 2018, a full-time faculty member with credentials in both English and philosophy was hired. This allowed SPC to start offering a philosophy major and transfer guide, plus add three new courses – Introduction to World Religions, Introduction to Formal Logic and Introduction to Ethics which were approved and added to the course catalog.
Mrs. Race serves as an English major and general studies advisor each semester and during New Student Orientation in the summer. She is currently developing detailed transfer guides for English majors to Texas Tech University, Lubbock Christian University and Wayland University.
For the past five years, Mrs. Race has served as the mistress of ceremonies for the Miss Caprock Scholarship Pageant, and for the past three years, as the mistress of ceremonies for the SPC Awards Assembly. She has assisted the English Department faculty annually with three UIL academic contests – Spelling, Literary Criticism and Ready Writing. She also serves on various departmental committees including course revision, textbook and hiring committees. She serves as the style editor for all curriculum changes submitted to Academic Council each fall and spring. Mrs. Race served on the Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) Steering Committee and as chairperson of the QEP Marketing Team. She is a member of Texas Community College Teachers Association.
“I used to think one day I would be completely satisfied with how I teach my courses,” she said. “After 26 years, that still has not happened. I don’t think it ever will. If I ever decide there is no longer a need for continuous improvement, then it is probably time to quit teaching.”
A colleague, Alan Worley, dean of Arts and Sciences, said, “Sharon has a strong mind and an even stronger heart and soul. She represents herself and the South Plains College community very well. She’s a great leader. She’s a great instructor. But most importantly, she’s a great person. I think that is the essence of what Sharon and SPC are all about.”
Ms. Race received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in English from Baylor University. She and her husband, Karl, are the parents of Matthew Race and Danae Race, both of whom are graduates of South Plains College. The Races became first-time grandparents with the recent birth of Rachel Kay Race born on April 28 to Matthew and Heather Race.