Six people were recognized Aug. 20 for their contributions to Amarillo College and its students with the second annual Faculty Excellence awards.
The awards, created by former AC President Dr. Paul Matney and the Deans’ Council, recognize those who go above and beyond in their efforts to improve the AC experience. The awards are accompanied by a $500 stipend.
Mark Shadix, a science instructor, was recognized for his excellence in instructional strategies.
The criteria included effective use of cooperative, experiential, service, interdisciplinary and active learning or innovation with technology-enhanced learning.
“He is excellent. He is a good teacher,” said Deanna Cauble, a chemistry major. “He spends all his time running back and forth to Amarillo College for silly students that need to meet up with him at weird times.”
Those meetings sometimes fall on weekends and evenings, but Cauble and other students said Shadix isn’t bothered by it because he wants students to get the help they need to succeed.
“He goes out of his way to help us to succeed,” said biology major Emily Nipper. “A teacher that does that is a blessing.”
Shadix’s passion for teaching doesn’t stop in the classroom, students said. Nipper and Cauble also are members of the Chemistry Club, which Shadix sponsors.
The group takes chemistry-related field trips and last year began working on filming a new lab safety video.
This year Nipper, who is in Shadix’s Principles of Chemistry class, said Shadix has begun creating videos of himself explaining class material with which students seem to be struggling.
Shadix also allows students who may hesitate to ask a question in front of the entire class to submit the question to him online, Nipper said.
He doesn’t scold students or make them feel bad for not knowing the material, she said.
“He’s really relatable,” Nipper said.
It’s not all work, Cauble said, as Shadix also does what he can to keep students interested in chemistry. The subject isn’t always fun, but he does what he can to keep students from dropping the class or becoming bored.
“His test questions are fun unless he is being lazy,” Cauble said. “He once wrote an entire short answer section about The Avengers. Specifically one of them was talking about the Hulk farting, which was very funny in a round-about way.”
Shadix said he is honored but is unsure he did anything special to receive the award.
He agreed he’s not afraid to try new things, mentioning a partnership with book publishing company Pearson.
“I was really the only one that really wanted to do any work on it,” Shadix said. “I wanted to make sure it was done right, so I put in an un-godly amount of hours at the beginning of the summer.”
He said he also cares about where his students go and what they do.
Their success is important, he said, and relies on how accessible class information and the tools to understand it are.
“Everyone should care enough to want to try to make their classes as accessible to everyone as possible,” Shadix said.