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Cheryl Thomas Named Outstanding Full-Time Faculty Member of the Year at JALC

Published on April 15, 2020

Assistant Professor of Biology and Life and Physical Science Department Chair, Cheryl Thomas has been named the 2020 Outstanding Full-time Faculty Member at John A. Logan College. She has been teaching full-time at the College since 2006. 

Thomas began her career at John A. Logan College in 1995 as a professional tutor in the Student Success Center tutoring students in Physics, Chemistry, and Biology and as an adjunct Biology instructor in 1996. In 1997, she became the Director of the Student Success Center and remained in that position until accepting the position of full-time Biology Instructor in 2006.  In 2012, she became the Life Science Department Chair, and in 2016, the Life and Physical Science Departments merged to form one unit with Thomas as the Chair.  In addition to her duties as department chair, Thomas currently teaches Anatomy and Physiology courses.

For Thomas, being named the Outstanding Full-Time Faculty of the year is a bonus for the opportunity to do what she loves.

“Being selected by my peers as Outstanding Faculty is such a humbling experience. It means the world to me to be recognized amongst so many outstanding faculty members at John A. Logan College.”

Cheryl Thomas had originally planned to go to medical school until a human anatomy class in her senior year of college changed her mind.

“Never in a million years did I think I would become a teacher,” said Thomas. “My plans were to go to medical school, but within weeks of my first human anatomy class, I was hooked, and decided to change my plans to pursue a master’s degree so I could teach at a community college.

For Thomas, there was never any doubt that a community college was the place she wanted to teach.

“I love the atmosphere of a community college. I love that my students show up ready to learn and have open minds. I love my colleagues, who feel like family. I love that I was finally given the opportunity to do what I love at a place that I love,” Thomas said.

Her love of teaching and the passion she has for the subject is what she wants her students to take away from each class that she teaches.

“I strive to provide an encouraging environment where each student has the ability to mature as both a student and a person.  I believe an instructor should show genuine enthusiasm, a positive attitude, and enduring dedication in all aspects of teaching,” said Thomas. “Teachers have the opportunity to make a very powerful impact on students’ lives, and a teacher’s attitude is critical in doing so.  A passionate approach to teaching and learning can motivate, support, and encourage students both inside and outside the classroom.  I have a true passion for teaching and for my subject, and I hope to share that with my students.

Her efforts in the classroom have made her a popular instructor in a difficult subject area, and earned her the admiration of her peers.

“Cheryl is a dedicated faculty member who wants the best for her students. They (students) love her classes because they know how much she cares about their education. We are fortunate to have Cheryl at John A. Logan College. She is a wonderful example of the caring faculty that comprise our staff and she is most deserving of this honor,” said Dean for Academic Affairs Dr. Stephanie Chaney Hartford. “Cheryl covers detailed, complex material in her class, but does it in a way that makes it accessible and memorable for students.”

Every semester on the first day of class, she tells her students the very same thing, “If there is one thing I want you to know and remember about me, it is that I LOVE what I do!  I love teaching; I love the topic, and I love working with students.”  Then, on the last day of class, she reminds them of what she has said with the hope that they have recognized that throughout the semester.

One thing is for certain, despite the fact that the last day of the semester will look a little different this year, the sentiment is clear from students and fellow faculty alike.  Cheryl Thomas loves what she does, and she is very good at it.