INA, Ill. (May 8, 2019) – Rend Lake College Board members, faculty, staff, and retired employees gathered in the Theatre on Tuesday afternoon to celebrate and highlight several individuals for an exceptional academic year.
At the annual Faculty and Staff Award Ceremony, eight retirees and a handful of current employees were honored for their service, as well as the awarding of the Full-Time Faculty Excellence Award, the RLC Foundation Staff Excellence Award, the Assessment Award, and certificates of recognition for members of the Academic Council.
Diane (Corse) Metzger, Mathematics Professor, retired in November with 38 years of service to Rend Lake College.
Metzger, a native of Metropolis and current resident of Whittington, was hired part-time in 1980 as a GED Instructor in RLC’s Skills Center. In 1984, she became the full-time Coordinator of the Math Lab. Metzger was instrumental in the creation of the Math Lab, then located in the library. Afterward, she became a full-time Mathematics Instructor and Professor.
“I feel very fortunate to have had a career I love for over 34 years – 38 if you count part-time – at Rend Lake College. I am grateful, first of all, to my students for giving me the opportunity to learn as much from them as they learned from me,” said Metzger in her retirement letter. “I am also grateful to my colleagues and co-workers for their cooperation and support, and to the Administration and Board for allowing me to have my dream job.”
At the time of her retirement, Metzger sat at the top of the RLC unofficial seniority list. Throughout the years, she was involved with numerous boards and committees, including Academic Council and the Policy and Procedure Committee. She was also named the 2003 RLC Foundation Faculty Excellence Award recipient.
Metzger also made her mark with the Women’s Tennis program, starting the program and serving as the first coach during the 1995-96 season through 2008. Under her leadership, the Lady Warriors received many National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Academic All-American honors – including the number one spot in the nation for highest GPA at 3.51 during the 2004-05 season.
Metzger herself was named Coach of the Year and honored with two Collegiate Community Service Awards by the United States Tennis Association. Of her 13 teams, two won Region XXIV Championships and six advanced to NJCAA Nationals.
But it isn’t on campus or on the tennis court where she has her fondest memory of RLC. A memorable drive to the college one morning still stands out at the top of her list.
“I had a new car, just a couple weeks old, and I was stopped behind a school bus on (Highway) 37 one day. I saw a motorcycle coming up behind me, and I could tell he wasn’t going to stop and run into the back of my new car,” said Metzger.
She continued, “He did, and he fell over and his motorcycle slid across the highway. I was worried about him; he was going to be hurt. I was also worried about my car. But he got up and came over to my window and said, ‘Mrs. Metzger, is this going to affect my algebra grade?’ I thought that was funny that his first thought was about algebra. He did, in fact, raise his grade that semester.”
Outside of RLC, Metzger is a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in West Frankfort, where she has served on the church’s council. She is also president of the Franklin County Tennis Club and is active in RLC’s water aerobics programs. In her retirement, Metzger said she plans to continue working in those organizations and spend time with family.
“I have 12 grandkids and I love tennis, so I believe I’m going to be able to fill up my time pretty easily,” said Metzger. “I am just very grateful and still love teaching. It will always be part of who I am.”
Metzger holds a Master of Science degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and a Bachelor of Science in Education from Southeast Missouri State University.
Linda Kay Shaw, Developmental Mathematics Professor, retired in May with 15 years of full-time service and a dozen years as a part-time instructor at Rend Lake College.
Shaw, a resident of Mt. Vernon, was hired part-time in July of 1991 as an instructor and became full-time in September of 2003. During those years, she served at RLC as the Area Site Coordinator and Developmental Mathematics Professor. In 2010, she was awarded the first Assessment Award for her extensive focus on assessing and documenting student progress.
In her retirement letter, Shaw wrote, “I am proud to have been a part of this wonderful, fantastic community. I will always be a proud supporter of Rend Lake College and believe that it will continue to be a major asset to the students and the community.”
Before working at RLC, Shaw was a substitute teacher in Southern Illinois. She also served as a board member on the Mt. Vernon Police and Fire Commission. Shaw passed away on November 2, 2018.
Leah Stallman, Director of TRIO Programs, retired in August with 10 years of service to Rend Lake College.
Stallman, a native of Mulkeytown, was hired full-time in April of 2008 as the Upward Bound Director – a federally funded college preparatory program for local high school students that is one part of the TRIO programs. In 2010, she became the Director of all RLC TRIO Programs, which encompasses the Upward Bound program alongside STARS (Student Transfer And Retention Support), which provides similar support to RLC students.
“It has been a great pleasure to serve the TRIO students at RLC and watch them succeed both academically and personally. Many of the staff members who I have worked with in TRIO have blessed me with friendships that will last a lifetime – for that I am grateful,” said Stallman.
Originally hired in the mid-1990s as a teen parent services case manager at RLC, Stallman left to work as a social worker at Carbondale High School for nine years before returning to the Ina campus. She said her time in RLC’s TRIO programs will be the memories she treasures in her retirement.
“I have enjoyed the time that I have spent with the TRIO students and am grateful for the lessons I have learned from them. I will always carry the memories of my time spent at RLC with me. RLC is a wonderful place to work and TRIO changes lives,” said Stallman.
Stallman officially retired on Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. She said she is planning to spend more time with family, specifically visiting her grandchildren Catherine and Ian. She also plans to devote more time to her interests and hobbies, including positions on the Christopher Homecoming Committee, Christopher School District #99 Board, and Franklin-Jefferson Special Education Governing Board.
Ricky Robinson, IT Professor, is retiring with 21 years of service to Rend Lake College.
Robinson joined RLC during the fall semester of 1998 to help develop the college’s Information Technology Program. He taught electronics that first semester, and by spring, he had developed enough classes to submit a new degree for Computer Networking Specialist.
In addition to IT classes, Robinson has also taught various courses in electronics, Adobe Flash and introduction to computers.
Outside the classroom, Robinson has been active in helping grow his program and direct the institution by being part of the IT Advisory Committee and also participating in Academic Council and the Academic Computing Committee.
For his efforts, he was presented with the 2015 Faculty Excellence Award.
“My years of service at RLC has given opportunity to work with some great people, and to see how my teaching has influenced the lives of my students,” Robinson said.
“My favorite memory is of my first IT graduating class, and the ‘award’ they gave me. For someone who had never taught a class before, it gave me the confidence I needed to continue teaching.”
Robinson is set to retire on June 30, 2019, and says he currently has no plans for life after RLC but to kick back and relax.
Marcia Whitehead, TRIO Program Specialist, has served in a variety of roles during her 18 years with Rend Lake College.
“I was hired on at RLC in October of 2001 as the Administrative Assistant for Center for Business (at that time located in the Student Center). In 2002 I moved to the Adult Education and Family Literacy program as the Administrative Assistant and Data Specialist for 10 years. I transferred to Student Records as a Records Specialist and finally transferred to the TRIO program in August 2011 where I have served as the TRIO Program Specialist for almost eight years,” Whitehead explained.
Whitehead went on to say that she is thankful for RLC’s commitment to education. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in December of 2005 through classes at the Rend Lake College MarketPlace, saying that the opportunity gave her the tools to better herself as an employee and help the students she served at RLC.
“It has been my privilege and honor to have been given the opportunity to work for Rend Lake College. I have been so fortunate to work with the best administrators and staff here at RLC. I appreciate each one and the support they have given me both professionally and personally through the years. I have learned from each of them to accept challenges with an open mind and heart always putting the best interest of RLC and students first,” Whitehead expressed.
“The memories I will take with me are the ones in which I am directly involved with students. I will forever have fond memories of the STARS and Upward Bound programs where I experienced the excitement of our students to trips, cultural events, campus visits and lasting friendships.”
In her retirement, she plans on spending more time with her children and grandchildren who live in Baltimore, Birmingham and Houston. She and her husband are also looking forward to spending more time golfing and traveling.
Dr. Lisa Price, Vice President of Student Services, knew she wanted to work at Rend Lake College ever since she was a student at the institution. She got her wish in 1994, hired on as a Teen Parent Service Case Manager, a grant funded program during the Welfare to Work initiative.
“When I was a student at RLC, I knew that one day I wanted to work at Rend Lake College. When I came as an employee, many of the staff and faculty were still here. And, we helped each other grow and ‘grow up.’ We have been through good and bad times both professionally and personally,” she explained.
Price eventually transitioned from that position to Future Focus Coordinator, then Director of K-12 Programs, to Executive Director of Academic Counseling, to Dean of Student Services and finally to VP of Student Services.
RLC wasn’t the only place that Price put in the hours. She has sat on the Franklin County EDGE Board of Directors, serving as President. She is finishing her third term on the Benton High School Board and has served three terms on the Ewing Grade School Board. Price has also held seats on the Franklin County CASA Board and served as a board member with Spero Family Services. She is also a member of Immanuel Baptist Church.
Known as the “Hot Dog and T-Shirt Queen” around campus, Price was always front and center in making sure that students at RLC felt welcome and appreciated.
“I will never be ashamed for standing up for students and always trying to put them first,” she expressed.
For her service, Price has been honored with the Outstanding Staff Award (2015-16), the Doug Leeck Service Award (2007) and was named one of the college’s 50 Influencers along with RLC’s two other Vice Presidents.
Price said she will have many fond memories of her time at RLC, but graduations are always some of her favorites. Every year manages to be such a unique and rewarding experience. There is one particular graduation that stood out in her mind.
“A favorite memory of mine and one that shows the true colors of the people of Rend Lake College happened a few hours before a Friday night graduation. It was discovered that the Grade Point Average was printed after the name of one of the graduates on the programs (several thousand had been printed.) It was too late to reprint. As many staff as we could find gathered in the conference room and began ‘whiting out’ that GPA,” she said.
In retirement, Price says she wants to travel, but she is going to work hard to be a “spur of the moment kind of gal” to take whatever adventure life throws at her.
Charles Wingo, Associate Professor of Industrial Electronics and Maintenance, brought 25 years of mining experience to RLC when he joined the team as Mining Technology Instructor on August 5, 2014.
After a decline in enrollment for mining, Wingo moved into Industrial Electronics, Maintenance and Manufacturing, teaching Basic Electronics, Fluid Power, Industrial Mechanics, Industrial Safety, Machining I and II, Machining V and Manufacturing Classes (Manufacturing Skills Standards Council), bringing his over-two-decades of experience to bear for the students of RLC.
Outside the classroom, Wingo has been an active part of the Mining Technology and Industrial Electronics and Maintenance Advisory Boards, helping keep the programs in touch with the needs of local employers.
“My years at Rend Lake have been very enjoyable. I enjoy working and sharing experiences, memories that I have during my working career. With 25 years in a coal mine, about 18 years at Continental Tire in Mt. Vernon and now six years here at RLC, hearing the experiences from others and interacting with the students have been great. Should have been here first,” Wingo said.
“Actually working here has been some of the most enjoyable memories. I have been able to meet and interact with so many people in just a short time. RLC has some of the best people that I have worked with, it would be hard to pinpoint any certain favorite memory. Rend Lake College has been very good for me and to me. It’s a great place to work. If people don’t realize it, they haven’t worked in some of the places I have over the years.”
Wingo says that he’s sure his wife will have a “Honey-do List” ready and waiting for him, just maybe without the honey. If he manages to escape those responsibilities, he plans on playing golf, fishing and spending time with his family. He said his three grandsons, in particular, love to golf and fish.
Brenda Heinzmann, Early Childhood Education Professor, began her journey with Rend Lake College in 1998, when she was brought on board to be the first preschool teacher at the new Rend Lake College Foundation Children’s Center.
Heinzmann eventually found herself as the center’s assistant director and then director. She also began molding the teachers of tomorrow as an adjunct instructor.
Ultimately, Heinzmann transitioned into a full-time early childhood education/education instructor at the college, leaving the children’s center in the capable hands of those she trained.
In recognition for the hard work that she put on inside the classroom, Heinzmann was recently presented with the 2019 Faculty Excellence Award.
Current RLCFCC Director, Brooke May, recalls her time as an ECE student observing Heinzmann's interaction with preschoolers, "I want to be a teacher like Miss Brenda." May continues with high praise of Heinzmann, "She is truly one-of-a-kind and inspires her students to be the best they can be. It’s now close to 20 years ago since I was her student, and I can still remember many of her lectures and assignments. She had that much of an impact with me."
Heinzmann said she had many fond memories of her time at RLC, but the one that sticks out most involves a llama.
“I have so many great memories but I will always remember when Tina Grounds and I kiddingly said that we would like a llama for a pet at the RLCF Children’s Center and the next Monday one of our ECE students brought pictures of a llama that she bought for us at the livestock sale for $75,” Heinzmann said.
Outside of RLC, Heinzmann sits on the board of directors at the Western Egyptian Economic Opportunity Council.
In retirement, her primary focuses will be getting out to travel and her position as CFO of Harmsen Farms.
Full-Time Faculty Excellence Award
Heinzmann was also recognized for being nominated for the 2019 Outstanding Faculty Member by her peers. You can read more about the honor here.
Staff Excellence Award
Lynne French, Administrative Assistant to the RLC Physical Plant, was honored with the 2019 RLC Foundation Staff Excellence Award for being a vital member of the RLC family.
"It is safe to say that Lynne effects each department and each employee on campus in one fashion or another," reads the letter nominating French for the award. "She is the link between the needs on campus and the job getting resolved...Lynne is such an asset to the college, and it does not go unnoticed."
Alex Martin, Mathematics Instructor, was awarded the 2019 Assessment Award for his service to RLC. This award credits an individual who works tirelessly on assessment policies and procedures for the college and is only awarded when there is a qualified candidate.
"[Alex] served as a valuable participant in an intensive week-long HLC workshop designed to improve RLC’s assessment strategies and rethink college activities," said RLC Vice President of Instruction and Student Affairs Lori Ragland when presenting the award.
"Being in the trenches of assessment for 5 long days can be grueling, but he accepted the charge like a champ. His willingness to be involved has been an integral part of improving our assessment process and enhancing our practices to move us forward. This faculty member serves as a leader and mentor to his colleagues with assessing, analyzing, and implementing continuous improvement to strengthen student outcomes."
Academic Council Certificates of Recognition
Several RLC faculty were awarded Certificates of Recognition for their service on Academic Council and sub-committees. Joe Ervin, Barb Hampton, Emily Jones, Sarah Bilderbeck, Nathan Brouwer, Jeannie Mitchell, Lora Phillips, Ricky Robinson, Jennifer Tarantino-Linsin, Elizabeth Bailey-Smith, Sarah Draper and Cindy Caldwell were all recognized.
Five Year Awards
Ten Year Awards
Fifteen Year Awards
Twenty Year Awards
Twenty-Five Year Award