The old saying, “If you want something done, ask a busy person” rings true with Dr. Lara Hernandez Corkrey, who is the 2024 Master Educator.

Corkrey, who began teaching at Moraine Valley in 2011, was asked to oversee the implementation of two pieces of state legislation: House Bill 2170 – the Developmental Education Reform Act and House Bill 5729 – Statewide Transitional English. The bills passed in the same year and were to be implemented concurrently.

“These bills radically changed developmental education in Illinois in an unprecedented way, and they had very tight, overlapping deadlines,” Corkrey said. “We offered our students different pathways to get ready for credit-level writing. That’s our goal. But when this bill passed, it essentially cancelled our whole curriculum. We had to throw away how we were doing things and build a new curriculum with a much more limited scope.”

The bills passed in 2021 and were to be implemented by 2023. “We had to build a single, one-semester course that would serve all our students, no matter what level they are at. I worked with other faculty members in our department to overhaul our curriculum and do something brand new,
and we rolled out our course one year ahead of schedule,” she said.

It was a challenging task, but for Corkrey, it was a labor of love as she is passionate about ensuring students achieve success. “I want to build the best class I can for a vulnerable student population and make sure students who need just
a little more, or a lot more, help and support can take a class that will help them succeed. Our data shows students who come through our classes excel when they get to the credit level. And that makes me so proud,” she said.

Learning Enrichment and College Readiness dean, Michael Morsches, who nominated Corkrey for the award, praised her work. “Lara has led Developmental Communications through two historic changes over the past two years. This took a great deal of work, and Lara shepherded the process deftly and kept all the appropriate stakeholders involved,” he said. “In addition, Lara has assumed the responsibility of department chair in Developmental Education and has hit the ground running. She is completely dedicated to the success of our students, the continuing support of our faculty and maintaining the healthy communication channels she established in the department, school and community.”

Corkrey says she believes she has the best job in the best department in the college. “I love what I do. I respect and admire the people with whom I work and feel excited to come to campus every day. I am so proud of my students who persevere every single day despite their struggles,” she said.

She is thankful for the nomination from Morsches and for what she says is his unwavering support. “Over the years, he has built an environment that encourages us to adapt and innovate so that we are always bringing our best to our students,” she said. “It is very humbling to be counted among the other Master Educators because for years I have been inspired by the accomplishments of the previous recipients. Winning this honor makes me feel incredibly proud and encouraged. I hope to continue to do work that makes me worthy of this award.”