The Centralia College Foundation has selected Preston Kiekel and David Peterson to receive the 2017-18 Exceptional Faculty Awards. They were chosen for their commitment to and excellence in their subject areas, and participation in campus activities.
Preston Kiekel started as an adjunct math instructor at Centralia College in 2013. A community college graduate himself, Preston went on the earn his bachelor’s degree from California State University, and his master’s and doctorate degrees from New Mexico State University.
He was a statistician at nonprofit organizations for over ten years. His work at universities and colleges drew him to teaching.
“I love the connection of helping someone learn new ideas and reach new goals,” he said. “The great thing about education is that, at the end of it, you have become something new and have achieved goals you could not have imagined before. Knowledge is transformative.”
Dr. Kiekel is now a tenured professor of math, including statistics, industrial math, and other topics. He teaches both at Centralia College’s main campus and at Cedar Creek Corrections Center. He has even taught psychology.
“I love teaching them all in different ways. Helping someone to learn the math they need to be an auto mechanic is rewarding in a different way from inspiring a motivated student to take Math 246 (intermediate statistics),” he explained.
In his free time, Dr. Kiekel enjoys playing medieval music.
David Peterson starting teaching classes in Centralia College’s Electronics, Robotics, and Automation program in 2011. He had just finished his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Washington State University – Vancouver. He didn’t anticipate a career in teaching initially.
“At the time, if I had looked ahead, I would have predicted I’d be teaching engineering, but now it’s the hands-on stuff I really like. That’s how I learned and everything I do now is hands-on,” he described. “I wouldn’t have predicted that in 2011 when I first started teaching.”
Peterson has since earned tenure and manages the ERA and Mechatronics programs. He works closely with local and regional employers and is constantly modifying and updating the programs to ensure graduates succeed in the workplace. Centralia College’s program is the model for the entire state.
Personally, he’s enjoyed the connections of being in a smaller community.
“I always wanted a job here,” said Peterson, a Boistfort native and Centralia College graduate. “I really value this community. The ability to connect with our local workforce and our schools has really made this job personal to me – it’s my home and I’m glad to be able to stay here and to be invested in my hometown.”