Margin of Excellence awards

The Bellevue College Foundation started an award system in 1984 to honor employees who “embody excellence and selflessness in helping their students and colleagues achieve success,” according to an article on the Bellevue College website. This award, known as the Margin of Excellence Award, has been distributed to 147 Bellevue College employees in the 30 years of its existence.

In celebration of the end of this school year, the award was given to Jennifer Conner, Chelsie Hanks, Nancy McEachran and Keith Rowley. Each winner of the award also received a $1,500 reward.
Taryn Echert, assistant director of development at Bellevue College and one of the BC Foundation volunteers explained, “the members of the BC Foundation board read nominations each year and choose a winning faculty member out of four different categories, full-time faculty, part-time faculty, classified staff and on administrative exempt.” Students as well as faculty, administrators, staff and trustees make nominations.

Left to right: Chelsie Hanks, Jennifer Conner, Nancy McEachran and Keith Rowley.
Left to right: Chelsie Hanks, Jennifer Conner, Nancy McEachran and Keith Rowley.

When the winners are decided, those who nominated them along with the college president arrive at the nominee’s classroom or office as a surprise, where they announce to the winner that they received the award.

“The award is important,” Echert said, “because it is the one college-wide award that is granted to staff and faculty members by their colleagues and peers.”

“I have seen time after time their passion for teaching, and their dedication to their students’ success,” Rowley explained, “I have been impressed countless times with the emphasis on quality teaching from both tenured and adjunct faculty.”

The idea that the competition was tough was shared by Rowley and Nancy McEachran, ESL instructor in the developmental education department at Bellevue College. McEachran won the award under the full-time faculty category, and said, “The Margin of Excellence award is possible for me because my work is really our work.”

Rowley talked about his feelings for Bellevue College and his love for the learning community as well as his experiences in learning from his peers. “I love it when I see students grow in confidence over the course of a quarter, to see them become strong, independent learners,” he said.

According to Rowley, his place at Bellevue College is not without drawbacks in regards to the students whom he didn’t reach.

“It hurts, knowing that I had this opportunity to help someone, but that nothing came of it,” he explained. Rowley explained how he is motivated by these experiences to become a better teacher and achieve the Margin of Excellence award that he earned on June 3.

Rowley hopes to continue doing exactly what he’s been doing so far, but also seeks to continue improving himself.

“I really love Bellevue College. I believe in its mission of serving its students and our community,” said Rowley.

McEachran’s goals differ slightly from Rowley’s. “My goal is to provide English instruction that offers students a gracious space for learning,” she said. To McEachran, a gracious place is where all students feel valued, included and honored as full participants in the classroom.

In terms of improving, McEachran had shared similar ideals with Rowley. “I plan to further help my students by continuing to provide high-quality English instruction and cultivate their leadership skills,” she said.