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.
Jeff McQuarrie spent much of his early career in business. He was the president and marketing director of a fishing resort in Alaska, and had his own video production company. But, he wanted more.
“Although both jobs were fun, I didn’t feel I was really making the world a better place,” he said. “I think we all have a deep craving to change people’s lives for the better, and teaching does that. I still keep in touch with students from the first class I taught here in 2011. I’ve lived all over the country, but Lewis County people are special.”
McQuarrie started teaching communications part-time, first at Centralia College East and then at both campuses. He now teaches nearly all of the communications studies courses available at CC, including public speaking, intro to mass media, and debate. His favorite class is advanced public speaking.
“That class attracts some gifted characters, who really know how to make learning fun,” he said. “Most days, when I leave that class, my jaw hurts from laughing so much. It’s so cool to have a new student who is frightened to death on the first day of an introductory public speaking course, who then goes on to take the advanced course. Guiding them from ‘frightened to fanatic’ about public speaking is one of the biggest joys I’ve ever felt.”