Community honors director, professor

Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Kenai Peninsula College prides itself on the quality of its staff and faculty.

That notion was reinforced Jan. 28 when the Greater Soldotna Chamber of Commerce recognized director Ginger Steffy as the 2002 Person of the Year. She is a past president and former board member of the chamber. She has been the college director since 1987. Prior to assuming the director role, she taught physics and mathematics at the college for 15 years. Steffy's leadership qualities have been exercised on several boards, including the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska and the Kenai Peninsula United Way. She has always promoted community service to all KPC faculty and staff.

Her example is reflected in another KPC employee who also was recognized by the Soldotna chamber. Dayne Clark, associate professor of business administration, received the Excellence in Profession award for 2002. Clark has taught business-related classes at KPC for 26 years. He is involved in many aspects of community service from chairing the board for the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank to hosting KPC's annual career day.

It was especially nice that the chamber convinced Steffy she was present at the award ceremony to present Clark's award. She was flattered and quite surprised to receive her own award.

KPC is honored to have two key employees recognized for the selfless service they give our communities.

New technology makes learning easier

The computer and information systems department at KPC is excited about a new tool that makes teaching and learning computer skills more efficient.

The Smart Board, made by Smart Technologies Inc., serves as a giant touch screen "monitor" that enables the instructors to use their fingers or a pointer as a mouse cursor. The unit hangs on the wall and is as thin as a dry erase board, measuring 5-feet wide by 4-feet high. Before the Smart Board, students sometimes had a hard time following the mouse pointer as the instructor demonstrated a procedure in a software program. Now the instructor clearly can give the students a visual aid that makes following the navigation process much easier.

Mark Jensen, KPC's computer guru, estimates the technology has existed about three years; a virtual lifetime in an industry that changes almost daily.

The Smart Board was purchased with help from a grant from the Smart Kids Foundation. The grant is available for all educational institutions and is good for one year. It provides $500 off all Smart Boards purchased. The Smart Board was so popular and useful in one of the computer labs, a second one was purchased for the other computer lab.

Don Eide, KPC computer lab aide, pointed out that the Smart Board also serves as a "virtual" dry erase board when not projecting computer software applications. It comes complete with three colors of virtual crayons that allow instructors to write on the board. The system has a handwriting recognition feature that will convert writing into typed text that can be sent to a virtual notebook or to a printer. It also has a record feature that actually makes a video record of the performed tasks that is helpful when students miss a step.

The computer department staff said this technology will become commonplace in all classroom settings someday. If this technology sounds interesting to you, come by the college for a demonstration.

This column is provided by Suzie Kendrick, community relations coordinator at Kenai Peninsula College.

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