Joe Chaloka, Associate Professor of Reading, Department Chair of Developmental Education, is ending his career at Moraine Valley with a bang. As his retirement looms on May 31, he is adding Master Teacher to his list of accomplishments.

Chaloka taught middle school special education classes for 14 years before coming to Moraine Valley to teach reading. He credits those early years with building a foundation that has substantially helped him advance students through developmental education courses at the college.

Within the Reading department, he has created bypasses, customized textbooks to fit curriculum, recreated tests, and set up Canvas sites for reading adjunct instructors so they have everything they need at their fingertips. He also created a Developmental Education attendance policy that keeps students on task and engaged.

“My job is to prepare students for the next level of developmental education classes, and it’s amazing at 16 weeks to see how much they have learned. I’m looking at their writing and thinking, ‘Wow! They barely understood the topic,’ but from beginning to end, I see such great growth. I’m always happy about that,” Chaloka said.

One of his most recent projects was creating a Center for Disability Services (CDS) Cohort for students in COM-085 and RDG-071. The CDS determines students’ eligibility and places them in the cohort. Students in the cohort see Chaloka or Dr. Lara Hernandez-Corkrey, assistant professor of Developmental Education/Communications, every day of the week and participate in a mandatory support workshop in Tutoring. Since instituting the program in fall 2016, the cohort has had great success with a 100 percent pass rate in reading and an increase in pass rates across the board.

Chaloka sees student retention as one of the important components of developmental education and has piloted the early warning system and gotten counselors involved with his students to help them at a quicker pace.

As the department chair of Developmental Education, Chaloka oversees 20 full-time faculty and 100 adjunct faculty. He says collaboration is important in their work. “Because of the nature of what we teach, we have to work together to remain standardized and consistent. It’s second nature for us. The people I work with are amazing. Everybody collectively contributes, and everyone supports each other and understands the need for it,” he said.

Those team members nominated Chaloka for the Master Teacher Award because they say he is an exceptional teacher, an extremely active and effective leader, an outstanding mentor for his reading faculty, and a selfless educator.

His nominator said, “Joe understands the mission of the college at every level. He has helped build a very strong reading unit, has provided stability and is always actively involved in campuswide initiatives. Joe is patient and focuses on the needs of others. He balances those qualities with a strong, fundamental vision of his department and the college.”

Chaloka is honored and humbled to be named Master Teacher. “It’s the end of my career so this is a nice culmination. It just feels good at the end that your
work has been noticed. It’s nice to hear
people say, ‘We’ve noticed what you’ve
done,’” he said.