The Centralia College Foundation has selected Connie Smejkal and Jeff McQuarrie to receive the 2016-17 Exceptional Faculty Awards. They were chosen for their commitment to and excellence in their subject areas, and participation in campus activities.
Connie Smejkal came to Centralia College in 2006 with no previous experience teaching. In fact, she started as an office assistant and was promoted twice, first to program coordinator and then to director of Workforce and Continuing Education. Spurred by her success, she finished her master’s degree and began teaching classes part-time. Something clicked immediately.
“I caught the teaching bug. I loved the classroom and watching students learn and grow. I was hooked,” she said.
As soon as a full-time teaching position opened, Smejkal applied and soon found herself on the tenure track. She reduced her teaching time to serve as the associate dean of the bachelor’s degree programs, but she returned to teaching full-time after one year.
She now teaches a variety of business and accounting courses. Her favorite class is human relations in the workplace.
“This class helps students work on their interpersonal skills,” she explained. “Since the course is required of all workforce students, I appreciate the diversity in the classroom. The course is engaging, contains material everyone can relate to, and provides a lot of opportunities for fun learning experiences for students.”