This Really Adds Up: Mary Black = Stephen Charry Memorial Award’s 2019 Winner

Elle Bottom and Kaitlyn Ruppert

Mary Black is this year’s winner of the Stephen Charry Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence. She was nominated for her passion for teaching, leadership, professional development and contributions to the college and the community.

According to Black, the award is very humbling: “It means a lot to me that a student took time to say I made a difference.”

Black strives to connect with her students and fellow faculty members on a daily basis. To her, this award is validation that she is making a difference in the IVCC community.

This year, Black was the only female faculty member nominated for this award. She was humbled and honored to be grouped with the male nominees: Keith King, Willard Mott, Jeff Spanbauer, and Bob Reese. Black claimed she had a hard time figuring out who she was going to vote for.

This was the first year students were able to cast their vote for the award.

“I think students are greatly impacted by what we do, so I am really excited they got the chance to participate in that,” she said.

In order for Black to be nominated, a student had to complete a questionnaire answering questions such as “How has this instructor influenced you?” and “What ways were you encouraged to contribute to your community?”

After the instructor is nominated they submit a biography; then, they are officially on the ballot.

Black cannot be nominated again next year. For three years, she will be on the award committee along with past winners and cycle off. The next time Black can be in the running for the Faculty Excellence award will be in 2022.

Black not only is being recognized for winning the Stephen Charry award, but she is also being acknowledged for teaching at IVCC for 20 years. She has primarily worked in the Math Learning Center but also taught classes and lectures when she first started her career on campus.

“It’s been a blessing to be here,” she said. “My husband Wes also teaches here, so… IVCC has been a huge part of our lives. It’s literally been our livelihood, but it’s also been home in a sense because we spend so much of our days here, and we interact with so many different students. It’s really a big community to me and to us.”

Black has two daughters, Bethany and Rachel, and both have attended IVCC. Last year, Black’s entire family was at IVCC because Bethany was a sophomore while Rachel was a freshman.

“It really has been a very, very close-to-our-heart place because it has meant so much to us,” she said.

Bethany, who is an IVCC alum and is a current student at Illinois State University, remarked, “I thought it was awesome that my mom won this award because she really cares about her students and encourages them to succeed.”

She continued, “She stays involved on campus and in her students’ lives, and I definitely think she deserves to be recognized for her hard work and passion for teaching.”

Bethany also mentioned that Black won the PartTime Faculty Excellence award when she first started working at IVCC nearly 20 years ago. She is the first faculty member to receive both.

Rachel, who is a current sophomore at IVCC, was really proud of her mom for winning the award.

“I was really happy when I found out that she won,” Rachel stated. “She loves her job and loves working with her students. I can’t think of anyone that deserves it more.”

Black comes to campus every day and has her daily routine, but to her, being a math teacher doesn’t feel like work.

“I think with anything, there are going to be aspects that feel like work,” she said. “There’s a lot of things behind the scenes that go on.

“My work with my students really is not work. I enjoy my students, I enjoy getting to know them. Math, many times, is not people’s favorite, so I enjoy trying to chip away at that. It’s just a really good day when I get to be out there with them,” she said.

Overall, Black truly enjoys her job at IVCC and will continue to positively impact the lives of students for years to come.

If you would like to nominate a faculty member for next year’s Stephen Charry Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence, contact Leslie Hofer, Director of Human Resources, at [email protected] to get more information. 

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