DANVILLE — State Sen. Scott Bennett had a gift for Wendy Brown, microbiology and biological science instructor at Danville Area Community College, on Thursday.
Staff, students and school board members gathered to watch as Bennett presented her with a State of Illinois Senate Recognition document. The document honors Brown for being named Illinois Community College Faculty Association Leo Welch Educator of the Year Award.
Bennett had sponsored the recognition document, which was read on the floor of the Senate and placed in the Senate Record on Nov. 17. Bennett sponsors only a handful of this type of Senate recognitions annually.
“This is really a big deal for the whole area,” Bennett said.
For one thing, the Leo Welch award is peer-nominated, which means a lot to an educator, he said. DACC communications instructor Ryan Wyckoff nominated Brown for the award.
Secondly, the Community College Faculty Association represents all 48 community colleges in the state, he said, so think how many faculty members were eligible for one award.
Bennett, whose district includes DACC, Parkland College and the University of Illinois, said higher education is important to him, and he’s on the Senate Higher Education Committee.
“I find myself using DACC as an example of what we do right,” he said. The community is interested in the college, and vice versa, he said, adding, “It’s amazing what we can accomplish with this synergy.”
He described Brown as an incredible professor who’s involved in the community, and who has many skills.
In accepting the document, Brown said, “This is such an honor. I don’t do what I do for recognition. I love to educate my students and help get them where they want to go in life.”
DACC understands that, she said, and does what it can to help students, as well.
Brown, who started teaching at DACC 15 years ago, was recognized in Springfield in November by the Illinois Community College Faculty Association.
She also received the Illinois Community College Trustees Association’s Outstanding Full-Time Faculty Member Award in 2010.
Brown also is involved with Family Science Night, DACC’s sustainability farm, community learning service projects, College for Kids and DACC’s Reptile Roadshow. She serves on the Higher Learning Commission Accreditation Committee and has a leadership role in the Achieving the Dream initiative on DACC’s campus.
She has received rave reviews from her students, as she keeps them engaged, and is always looking for ways to get them out in the community.
In introducing Bennett, DACC President Stephen Nacco said the senator is a friend of the college. When he found out that a DACC instructor had won a state award, Bennett wanted to honor her in some way, Nacco said.
Bennett said he’s honored to represent the constituents of the 52nd Senate District, and is always excited to hear about the positive work and service that so many are doing in the community.
Illinois State Senate Recognitions provide a way for Bennett to acknowledge constituents for their work or service. Senate Recognitions are officially acknowledged by the 100th General Assembly of the State of Illinois.