Some say teaching is an art. They also say teaching effectively to a diverse group of students is a talent. That being said, Joan Grupka, who has been an instructor for 35 years, is a talented artist. Grupka is this year’s Adjunct Professor of the Year, a distinction she earned for going above and beyond to be sure her students are successful.

As an adjunct instructor of developmental communications and reading, Grupka understands her students learn in different ways so she incorporates various teaching methods to effectively meet each of her students’ needs.

“My mission is to help students improve their writing for success in college and their career to help them grow confidence and to enjoy writing,” said Grupka, who is a Moraine Valley alumnus. “I build differential accommodations into lessons or record readings. I print lecture notes, provide pre-learning for better participation, offer periods of quiet and low distraction and have the students complete self-assessments,” she said. “These efforts have improved their writing performance, and it builds teamwork.”

Grupka helped enrich the college by creating and facilitating CTL instructional improvement workshops for fellow faculty and sharing lessons and materials with colleagues on department resource sites. She designed brain-dominance tutoring recertification training content, an invaluable, versatile tool for nontraditional learners. Grupka also revised the COM-090 textbook and has participated on several projects in her department, including two years on the adjunct faculty committee.

The success of her teaching methods is felt by many students, especially her nominator, who said Grupka helped her go from just passing the class to thriving in the class. “Mrs. Grupka showed me ways to improve how I convey my message through writing while still having the attention of the reader. I went from disliking English classes and writing classes in general to actually enjoying the work and being open to improvement.”

The student’s grades reflected just how much her teaching methods resonated. Her nominator said she was at best an average student and finished her class achieving a well-above average grade. “You may ask how do you know you are improving and how do you know she’s really helping in that area? The answer is clear. My grade is a reflection of how amazing and helpful this woman is. She not only grades your paper, she goes through and gives suggestions for improvement and comments on what you mastered.”

Being nominated for this award means a lot to Grupka. “I was really honored and humbled to be nominated, especially by my students. That makes me feel so good.”

Winning the award means even more. “I’m walking on air,” she said. “Honestly, this is the highlight of my career. To be chosen from so many amazing teachers at Moraine Valley, that is really incredible. We’re all part of the puzzle, from the administration to the faculty and the staff. We all work together for student success. That’s our goal. I’m just a little piece of the puzzle, and I’m honored.”