Keep the Community Alive in Community College
- A Blog about Fullerton College -

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Teacher of the Year

A blare of trumpets outside her classroom interrupted Emily Teipe as she was teaching her Wednesday morning American History class on March 25. What she first thought might be mariachi music turned out to be a contingent of well-wishers, led by President Hodge, come to inform her that she’d been chosen as Fullerton College’s teacher of the year.

“The in-class announcement was great,” said Neil Patel, one of Teipe’s students.

“Trumpets came in and everyone was wondering what was happening," Patel said. "Dr. Teipe was shocked thinking that it was a Cinco De Mayo event. Some students were laughing while others thought it might be someone who is running for A.S. in the upcoming elections.”

Teipe will be among 60 teachers of the year representing public schools and community colleges throughout the county to be honored at a dinner at the Disneyland Hotel on October 23, said Kristin Rigby, project manager at the Orange County Department of Education.

The teachers will receive gifts including $500 from Schools First Federal Credit Union and an award from the sponsor of the event, the James Hines Foundation, which varies in amount from year to year but is usually about $900, Rigby said.

The 60 honorees are also eligible to chosen as one of five Orange County teachers of the year for 2010. Winners will be announced on May 7. Four will come from k-12 schools, and one will represent a community college. Each of the five finalists will be receive a cash award of $15,000.

Teipe knew she had been nominated, but she was surprised to win.

“I’ve been nominated 17 years consecutively for this award,” she said. “I just considered it an honor to be nominated.”

Teipe usually teaches Western civilization and, her great love, women’s history, although this semester she is teaching U.S. history instead of Western civilization. She was in graduate school when she took her first class in women’s history.

“I sat in that class and I was hooked,” said Teipe. “I. Was. Hooked. I was like, ‘There’s this whole gap in my education. There’s this big empty space. Where are the women?'”

When she was hired full-time at Fullerton College, after teaching part-time for two or three years, she proposed a class in women’s history here. When there was no textbook available, she wrote one herself.

“I have hundreds of young women go through that class every semester,” she said. “I’m always running into someone in Orange County who was in my women’s history class. I go to the Cheesecake Factory and the server says, ‘Oh, Dr. Teipe, I was in your women’s history class.’”

Teipe said she thinks teaching is very life enhancing.

“I just wanted to be in a place where I could counsel women, I could encourage them, I could help them. I was a single mom going through school. I’d been there, done all that. When they come to me in class with their stories, I’m like, ‘I hear you.’”

Men also enjoy her classes, she said.

Patel, who is the recorder for the Student Senate as well a being a member of Teipe’s American history class, agreed with that assessment.

“Dr. Teipe is a very funny teacher,” he said. “She gives great lectures and interesting books to be read but very difficult tests.”