Cook Fesperman wins award

Brittany Marx, Staff Writer

Amanda Cook Fesperman is the 2018 recipient of Illinois Valley Community College’s Stephen Charry Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence.

The goal of this award is to recognize instructors and counselors for exceptional services throughout the college and the community through their teaching, guidance, and assistance.

Cook Fesperman was nominated this year by Lisa Chounard, a student returning to school after almost 30 years.

“Professor Fesperman encouraged me to work hard, and not be afraid of failure,” Chounard stated. “She encouraged me to enter writing contests, and never once gave up on me.”

Cook Fesperman began teaching at IVCC 17 years ago. Since then, Cook-Fesperman has worked hard to develop programs and activities for students, and has planned multiple lectures and brown-bag lunches that discuss humanitarian and current event topics.

She has also strived to promote diversity on campus by establishing programs that celebrate and acknowledge multiculturalism in our community. She has chaired IVCC’s diversity committee for 16 years.

The award came as a surprise to Cook Fesperman.

“It was completely unexpected,” she said. “I have amazing colleagues, all of whom were very worthy of their nomination.

“Funny story, someone actually asked me if I had heard who had won this year, and, being on Spring Break at Disney, my answer was, ‘No. But I’m sure it wasn’t me.’ Imagine my surprise when I returned home to find out I had won.”

Cook Fesperman appreciates being an educator here at IVCC.

“I believe that community colleges are the best place to be a teacher in higher education,” she said. “We get the opportunity to work with a diverse group of students and we get to focus on teaching.

“I love to hear a student say to me, ‘I didn’t think I could write a 10-page research paper, but now I know that I can.’”

A few students noted that her passion for politics has always shown through her teaching.

“I am honored to know that students are able to see that passion and enjoy learning with me,” she said.

This summer, she plans on attending two professional development workshops. The first one is a week-long program on climate change and water resources in Kalamazoo, Ind., through the Midwest Institute of International/Intercultural Education, which she will use in her International Relations and African History courses.

The second workshop will be a three-day event on the European Union held at the University of Illinois, which will enrich her International Relations Class.

She plans to continue teaching at IVCC until she retires, challenging and inspiring the current and future students at IVCC.