From “Pepper, Purvis named Fuerstenberg Award winners” — Julie Pepper touched the life of a student who came to Chippewa Valley Technical College through a job retraining program after a career crisis.

That student appreciated Pepper enough to nominate her for CVTC’s top award for teachers. Mary Purvis, meanwhile, was nominated by an entire class of students who were impressed by her dedication and passion to teaching.

When the 2013-14 school term started at CVTC with instructor in-service sessions last week, Pepper and Purvis were named the winners of the 2013 Roy and Jan Fuerstenberg Teaching Excellence Awards.

The awards, given annually, recognize instructors for their professionalism, excellence in teaching and learning, and their positive student-teacher relationships. Faculty members are nominated for the prestigious award by their students, and those honored receive a cash honorarium of $1,500.

Pepper, a Medical Assistant program instructor, has been with CVTC since 2002, and was with Mayo Health Systems previously.

“Being treated with respect triggered a desire to not let my teacher down,” Maria Creer, who nominated Pepper, wrote. “Anyone can recite some material and test you on it. Only real teachers go out of their way to get back to you with a timely response, make themselves available to students at almost any time, answer your questions, and explain why you got things wrong.”

Pepper said she strives to help students discover how to find success, both academically and personally.

“We know that students come to our institution from all walks of life, and not every student comes with the confidence necessary to meet the rigors of all of our courses,” Pepper said. “By giving the students the tools necessary for solid problem-solving, they can achieve early success that will have an immediate effect on their confidence.”

One of Pepper’s former students, Julie Miller, recalled how Pepper helped her through a difficult time when she had a major medical procedure on the first day of school.

“My classmates and I really felt like we had someone in our corner when it came to having Julie as an instructor,” Miller wrote in nominating Pepper. “She made herself very approachable and accessible to all of us with office hours, as well as extra time from her own personal schedule.”

Student Deb Bresser also praised Pepper.

“At some educational institutions, a student is just a number, but at CVTC you are treated as a real person, and in Julie’s classes, we become a family,” Bresser wrote.

Physical and Life Science Instructor Mary Purvis has been at CVTC since 2004 and was honored in 2010 as the Wisconsin Association of Community and Technical Education Teacher of the Year. As a Menomonie High School teacher from 1983-94, she was named a 1990 state finalist for the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Teaching.

In nominating Purvis, her students mentioned her expertise and energy.

“Mary always has a positive attitude (along with her quirky energy) and makes each student feel welcomed and important. Her passion and excitement for her subject expertise, along with her slew of hands-on activities, helps make the material easier to grasp and solidifies the information. She also unfailingly relates the information to the real world,” a statement by students in her Physics 2 class reads.

Purvis said she works to prompt her students to ask questions.

“We human beings are naturally curious. As children we were always asking ‘why?’ We are filled with wonder about everything around us,” Purvis said. “My goal as a teacher is to open my students’ minds to again allow them to ask these questions, and to share the joy and wonder of the natural world in a fun and engaging way.”

Cherrie Bergandi, dean of General Education and Business at CVTC, noted how Purvis’ students tend to cluster around her desk before class begins, peppering her with questions and excited about the lesson.

“Mary is the science teacher I wish I had in high school and college,” Bergandi said.

Fuerstenberg Teaching Excellence Awards are made through CVTC Foundation, Inc., which enhances the mission and vision of CVTC by securing resources for student scholarships, staff initiatives, technology investments and other purposes. The award is named after Jan Fuerstenberg, a lifelong educator, and Roy Fuerstenberg, incoming president of CVTC Foundation Board of Directors.



From “Ten questions everyone should ask when choosing a college” — By Mike Lanser, president Lakeshore Technical College – Choosing a college has always been an important decision and there are more options than ever before. Working adults may be adding a multitude of online learning choices to their consideration list, while high school seniors and their parents might be thinking about campus safety and student life.

These are important considerations, but I’d like to offer you a list of 10 questions to ask when choosing your college. The answers to these questions not only affect where you start college, but where you will end — which for most people is a successful and rewarding career.

1. Is the college accredited?

Accreditation ensures that the institution adheres to rigorous standards of quality, process improvement and excellence which must be evidenced through documentation and on-site visits by the accrediting body. Lakeshore Technical College is accredited through the Higher Learning Commission, which is one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States. To find out if the college you’re considering is accredited, visit

2. Is the education or credential you’re pursuing valued by potential employers? Ask for job placement rates.

You want to be sure your hard work and investment in college pays off. One indication that employers value the education you’re paying for is to find out about graduates’ job placement. LTC conducts a job placement survey of graduates each year. Last year, 4 out of 5 LTC grads were hired in 6 months or less following graduation.

3. What are the pass rates for students taking certification exams?

Many career-targeted programs promise that they will prepare you for licensure exams. Be sure to ask for pass rates from students who have taken the program previously. It can be good indicator of the program’s quality of instruction. At LTC, our students exceed the national average pass rates for certification exams by 15%.

4. What are the qualifications of the faculty, or better yet, can you meet them?

The quality of your learning experience is in your instructors’ hands. Do they have real-world experience in the area that they’re teaching. Are they certified instructors? Meeting your instructors is also a great way to enhance your understanding about the degree program you’re pursuing as well as your ultimate career goal. LTC instructors have worked in the fields they’re teaching and they welcome the opportunity to talk with students considering our college.

5. Is the program you’re considering offering college credit?

Many colleges offer both credit and non-credit offerings. Be sure to note whether you will earn college credit or not and whether your completion or credential earned will be recognized by potential employers.

6. What is the cost per credit?

Credits are a great way to compare apples to apples. If you’re paying $50 more for every credit, your college expense can really add up. Worse, if you’re not earning credit for the education you’re receiving you’ll want to consider how that could affect your future employment or education plans.

7. What kind of support will the college offer to help you succeed in meeting your educational and career goals?

You might have had areas in high school which challenged you, or maybe you’ve been out of school for a long time. Neither should be reasons for not pursuing your college degree, particularly if your college has services to help you be successful. LTC offers a wide range of free student success services ranging from peer tutors and support groups to academic counseling and career placement services.

8. Will you have the ability to build on your education to help you advance in your career?

Learning is life-long and many employers recognize this through employee tuition reimbursement programs. Keep this possibility in mind when you select a college because you may decide to continue your education after being on-the-job for a number of years. LTC has agreements with over 30 colleges and universities, including Silver Lake, Lakeland, UW-Oshkosh and UW-Green Bay so our graduates can continue to grow in their careers.

9. Is the college providing good value for your investment?

In addition to cost per credit comparisons, take a look at other expenses related to your education. Room & board if you’ll live on-campus, how many years it will take to complete your program, and the availability of financial aid and scholarships.

10. How long has the college been in operation?

You want your college degree, diploma or certificate to lead to job. While not a guarantee for your personal success, you can be assured a college has the commitment and resources to help you succeed when they have a proven history of doing so. LTC is proud to be celebrating a century of educating students for high-demand, local careers.

By answering these ten questions you’ll be armed with good information about the colleges you’re considering and ultimately which one will be the best fit for you to achieve your education and career goals.

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