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Andrea Nichols Honored with Emerson Teaching Award

December 16, 2011

Andrea Nichols  
Andrea Nichols with her Emerson Excellence in
Teaching Award.

Andrea Nichols, an associate professor of sociology at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park, was recently honored with an Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award. Emerson annually recognizes more than 100 teachers – from kindergarten to college professors – who are examples of excellence in the field of education in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

Emerson Excellence in Teaching recipients are selected by the chief administrators of their school districts or educational institutions. Only teachers who have completed three or more years of employment at their current school are eligible to be selected.

Nichols has taught at Forest Park since 2003. She was named the campus Teacher of the Year last spring.

Nichols said both students and colleagues motivate her.

“I very much have a social justice perspective, and many of our students have experienced unequal opportunity in their K-12 education," she said. "The community college offers opportunities to overcome such inequities. I see the community college as an agent of social justice that I am committed and proud to be a part of.

“I have a wonderful group of colleagues in the social sciences,” she added. “Forest Park is also a place where people will smile at you and say hello even when they don’t even know you. I like all the diversity – it really adds to the classroom discussions. I’ve taught at several other institutions, and this is my favorite place to be.”

She will earn a doctorate when she defends her dissertation in July at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, “The Community-Based Response to Domestic Violence: An Examination of Collaborative Networks.” Her doctoral pursuit was aided by a prestigious national scholarship in 2010 from the American Association of Women in Community Colleges.

Nichols is Forest Park’s local expert on domestic violence and victimization. She has published numerous articles and spoken at several national conferences on the topic.

She also encourages her students to become involved through service learning projects. She started the Sociology Club in 2003 and they’ve sponsored cell phone recycling, with proceeds aiding domestic violence victim services; a used eyeglass collection for distribution in low-income communities and countries; and a campaign for kindness, where they collected gift bags of necessities for domestic violence victims.

She is the Forest Park campus Achieving the Dream chair and liaison to the district ATD team, passionate about the year-old program.

“The whole point of teaching and education in general is student success – academic, personal, economic and otherwise. Achieving the Dream is an initiative that facilitates such success through data-driven targeted organizational change,” she said.

President Cindy Hess nominated Nichols, and also accompanied her to the banquet.

“We have worked closely together on the Achieving the Dream initiative and I’ve become one of her biggest fans," hess said. "I have been tremendously impressed with her work ethic and commitment to Forest Park students.”

Nichols is a faculty mentor for online classes and a participant in the new faculty evaluation pilot program. She is currently on a semester sabbatical.