Hend Educator of Year 2017HENDERSON, Ky. — A Henderson Community College professor who takes science, technology, engineering and math opportunities out to girls and under-served populations in the community was honored Friday morning as Kyndle’s 2017 Educator of the Year.

Michelle Chappell, associate professor of Computer and Information Technologies, received the honor at HCC’s convocation in preparation for the start of the 2017-2018 academic year.

“The Educator of the Year honor is intended to recognize a commitment to excellence and providing superior educational opportunities,” Chuck Stinnett, Kyndle’s vice president of chamber services, said in announcing the award.

Chappell “certainly does that within the classroom” and “continuously participates in professional development focused on instructional strategies,” he said. She utilizes social media and real-world scenarios to help students grasp the material.

She has said that her most memorable experience is when a student recommends her class to other students or sees her out in public and tells her how much they loved her class and teaching style.

A challenge in some career paths is the expectation that a career is appropriate only for certain types of people, whether it be a particular gender or cultural background. Chappell strives to break down such barriers by introducing elements of her profession to people who might never have even considered going to college.

She doesn’t restrict her teaching to the four walls of her classroom or even the HCC campus; she has reached out to students as young as 9 years old out in the community to reach populations that are under-represented in her field.

To introduce science, technology, engineering and math (or STEM) to youngsters, Chappell has volunteered with the FIRST (“For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology”) Lego League program.

She has established two Henderson County FIRST Lego League Teams. The first one, in 2013 at the Henderson County Public Library, won the “Overall” award at the Regional Competition at Owensboro Community and Technical College. That team advanced to state competition and received second place in “Teamwork.”

Chappell then worked with the Henderson County Housing Authority CAT (Community and Technology) Center after-school program to develop a FIRST Lego League in 2015, which received the “Judges Award” two years in a row in regional competition.

She continues to provide service to the CAT Center by hosting Hour of Code programs each December. Students learn basic coding; this global program is focused on providing girls and under-served youth with access to computer science skills.

Chappell is a product of Henderson Community College, having earned an associate degree in applied science with an emphasis on Management Information Systems in 1996. She went on to earn her bachelor’s in Applied Computer Science from the University of Southern Indiana in 2005 and a master’s from Morehead State University in Information Systems in 2011. She is now pursuing a doctoral degree from Morehead State.

She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta, a national black Greek sorority that provides community services. She has participated in the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education’s Academic Leadership Development Institute and the Henderson Leadership Initiative. She has also chaired several committees at HCC.

In 2015, Chappell received the HCC President’s Diversity Achievement Award for significant achievement in leadership in advancing diversity.

She says one of her greatest rewards is to keep students motivated with encouraging words as they struggle with courses and typical life issues, then watch them walking across the stage on Graduation Day and giving her a shout-out or head nod when they receive their degree.

She says her grandmother told her something that remains with her to this day: “Education is something no one can take from you. Always get as much of it as you can.”

Her hope, she says, is to inspire her students with that nugget of wisdom.

Chappell, who was also honored for 10 years of service at HCC, thanked her colleagues for their help over the years.

Kyndle is the chamber of commerce for Henderson and Henderson County as well as the lead regional economic development organization for Henderson, McLean, Union and Webster counties.

SurfKY News
Information provided by Chuck Stinnett

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