By SELLA ROBINETT Ranger Reporter
Dalila Paredes has received an award for excellence in student completion for her foundational work to integrate the Science Enrichment Center with science courses and faculty. Paredes, a biology instructor and the full-time supervisor of the SEC, is one of six faculty members who received an inaugural Faculty Excellence Award presented last August. Each award was accompanied by a $500 stipend. Paredes started teaching on the Moore County Campus in 2010.
It was her experience helping struggling students that caused her to begin thinking about how she could help on a larger scale. She came to the Washington Street Campus in 2012, and within the first year of SEC assistance, there was a 20 percent decrease in the drop rate.
She credits Dr. Kathy Wetzel, math department chairwoman and assistant dean, with the idea for the SEC, which has the same concept as the Math Tutoring Outreach Center. “Dr. Wetzel said our goal at minimum should be to help one student,” Paredes said. “Twenty percent is huge. Every student counts.”
Paredes said she wants to emphasize that the SEC isn’t just for the struggling student but any science student. She said more than half the students who come in are not failing; they just enjoy the positive environment. “The students pull the strings to my heart,” she said. “It is their desire to be excellent that motivates me.” Paredes used the $500 stipend to attend an anatomy and physiology forum where teachers from all over the country collaborated about ideas for struggling students.
She said what she found was that students all across the country are struggling just the same but that each college deals with it differently.Paredes said Amarillo College’s approach is unique and that she is proud to be a part of it. “I felt elated to win this award,” Paredes said. “But I wasn’t the only one who had a hand in it. I wanted to share this award with the tutors.”
The SEC has grown from four tutors to a current staff of 25, and at times, Paredes said even that’s not enough. The SEC once was “just a space for the passerby,” and according to Parades it has been transformed to a facility where students and tutors engage in the learning process. Kip Fuller, a nursing major and peer tutor, said Paredes is a phenomenal teacher. He said she inspires everyone because she really cares about the learning experience. He was in Paredes’ A&P I class, and he said he could not wait to get to the SEC every day. He said he was surprised when she asked him to be a peer tutor. “Ms. P pushes you and motivates you,” Fuller said.
“Working with her has been a great experience. The students adore her.” Fuller said he appreciates that Paredes cares about the students and takes her role seriously. Stacy Jones, a communicative disorders and occupational therapy major and SEC assistant supervisor, said she has known Paredes for three years. She started taking classes on the Moore County Campus in fall 2011.
Jones said the first class she had with Paredes was A&P I and that she felt intimidated. She said it didn’t take long for her to realize what a phenomenal teacher Paredes is. “She has a way of teaching you what you need,” Jones said. “She was the most important person in my life at that time.
She built me up after I broke myself down.” Jones said the reason she is able to tutor today is because she still can remember the stories that went along with the lectures in Paredes’ class. When the students weren’t speechless about the impact Paredes’ has had on them, the one word they uttered was “phenomenal” – phenomenal as a teacher and as a person.