CONTACT: JIMMY WALKER, firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 11/4/2019
(By Lisa Garrett)
PENDLETON – Tri-County Technical College Comprehensive Studies Mathematics instructor Jimmy Walker says he remains “shocked, honored and humbled” by the Outstanding Service to Students Award he received at the annual South Carolina Association for Developmental Education (SCADE) conference October 18.
Jennifer Hulehan, associate dean of Academic and Career Foundations, who nominated him, says despite his modesty, Walker personifies the exact qualities that this prestigious award recognizes.
This award is given to a person whose work exemplifies the mission and purpose of SCADE by demonstrating responsiveness to individual students, commitment to professional growth and excellence in teaching.
“Math is hard for many students so it’s important to have the right person teaching it. Jimmy is patient, he cares about each student and he is concerned about their successes,” said Hulehan. “He connects with students in and out of classes and his impact is huge. He truly deserves this award.”
Walker’s work as the lead faculty member with the Learning Disabilities pilot team this semester was the focus of Hulehan’s nomination letter.
This semester he worked closely with ARC, TSS, Advising, Learning Support and other faculty to develop and pilot learning techniques designed for students who exhibit symptoms of learning disabilities like dyslexia, dyscalculia and attention deficit disorder.
Hulehan said Walker has become “the Department’s resident expert on learning disabilities,” adding that he has spent countless hours on research and brings this important information to team meetings. “His implementation in the classroom not only helps students in those classes but also helps adjunct instructors and students in other developmental classes. Developmental Education students are very likely to have undiagnosed or unreported learning disabilities, so this work is critical to the success of under-resourced populations—the population TCTC is focused on,” she said.
He keeps the team updated on his experiences and works with them to develop tools to implement in their classes. “He then develops and delivers training to adjunct faculty on the research behind the learning strategies, how to appropriately use the strategies to help not just those with learning disabilities but all students at all levels of the learning continuum. His research also includes Universal Design for Learning (UDL), which he uses to develop tools/training and better learning experiences for students,” said Hulehan.
One of the strategies Walker focuses on is retrieval practice, which is the act of trying to recall information without having it in front of you. “If one understands the properties and laws associated with a math problem, he or she won’t have to study as much and can focus on the math,” said Walker.
“These activities focus on listening to vocabulary and understanding mathematical language so they can be more engaging and less afraid to ask questions. They also see others (their classmates) are dealing with the same problems. They feel like they aren’t alone so they begin to relax and perform better,” said Walker. “Students then begin to deal with negative emotions that stem from bad math experiences,” he added.
He expressed appreciation to Hulehan, who “gives us the freedom to do these activities, as long as we follow the curriculum. We can be creative and that’s very helpful,” added Walker, who will continue his work next year by holding professional development seminars for faculty on using these strategies in class. The class will be piloted in the fall.
“Many students will tell you that math is their least favorite or most difficult subject, which is why the right instructor is vital to developmental math students’ success. Jimmy Walker has consistently been ‘the right teacher’ for our students. His students have time and again reported that Jimmy is a patient, caring and concerned teacher, who knows what he teaches and explains it well,” said Hulehan. She added that students often inquire if Jimmy is teaching the next class and when that happens, an instructor knows he or she has reached someone.
“It’s not about me. It’s about learning skills and strategies than can transfer across disciplines,” said Walker.
Walker has taught at the College since 2007, first as an adjunct, then as a lecturer, and as a full-time faculty member.
Students and faculty praise Walker as being an invaluable asset to the classroom and the College. In 2012 received the College’s Adjunct Faculty Presidential Award.
Walker holds a B.S. in mathematics from the University of South Carolina. He began college at Tri-County in the university transfer curriculum.
He resides in Anderson.