Teaching award recipients help students discover their path to success

Austin Community College recently announced the recipients of its 2015 Teaching Excellence Award. The annual award recognizes faculty members whose knowledge, innovation, and teaching philosophy set them apart.

This year’s recipients are Dr. Patty Collier, professor in Austin Community College’s physical therapy assistant program, and Dr. Rodney E. Rohde, adjunct professor of biology.

Dr. Patty Collier, Physical Therapist Assistant Professor

Dr. Patty Collier coordinates clinical rotations for the Physical Therapy Program.

Dr. Patty Collier first came to ACC in 2007, but she was instructing physical therapy students well before that: As a hospital physical therapist clinician she worked one-on-one with physical therapy and physical therapy assistant students completing their field training. She also would share her knowledge of wound care with both students and fellow practitioners as a guest lecturer in various forums.

“Every time someone gave me a chance to teach, I found I enjoyed it,” she says. Eventually she decided to see if she felt that same fulfillment in the classroom. Part-time teaching led to a full-time position at ACC, where she also coordinates clinical rotations for the Physical Therapist Assistant Program.

Despite a full teaching schedule, she continues to work monthly and during the summer at Seton Medical Center Austin, which keeps her in-touch with current practices.

Collier is quick to credit the experienced educators who have taught her how to teach, and says that while her teaching philosophy is constantly evolving, it is based on understanding students’ individual needs.

“If you can help struggling students figure out new strategies to learn, that’s just the coolest thing – when you help them find their way,” she says. “As a teacher, there’s a natural tendency to want to mold students into a version of yourself,” she says. “I’ve learned the best thing is to try to mold (students) into the best versions of themselves.”

Dr. Rodney E. Rohde, Biology Adjunct Professor

Dr. Rodney E. Rohde has taught at ACC for 20 years.

Before Dr. Rodney E. Rohde began his academic career, he was a public health microbiologist and molecular epidemiologist with the Texas Department of State Health Services. He has authored hundreds of books, articles, and abstracts. His latest book is “Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA): Knowledge, Learning, and Adaptation: I Guess Everything Changes When It Happens to You – Their Stories.”

He has taught biology and microbiology at ACC since 1995, sharing his expertise about infection control with future nurses, surgical technicians, and even dental hygienists.

Rohde also is a professor at Texas State University, where he is chair of the Clinical Laboratory Science Program and associate dean for research for the College of Health Professions. He enjoys both institutions, he says, but adds there is something about community college that keeps him teaching at ACC.

“I’m a father and a husband, and so are a lot of the people here,” he says. “I did graduate work when I was a father. I get where they’re coming from. I empathize with their struggles.”

Students, for their part, value the “street cred” that his experience and research represent, Rohde says.

“I try to help them reach their goals by showing what I did, including showing my mistakes,” he says. “To be a good teacher, you have to enjoy what you’re doing. I enjoy being a mentor. I want to try to help people be successful in their career paths.”

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