Wiregrass Georgia Technical College Commercial Truck Driving Instructor Tommy Ponsell, received the 2019 Rick Perkins Award for Excellence in Technical Instruction, also known as Rick Perkins Instructor of the Year Award.
The Rick Perkins Award for Excellence in Technical Instruction is awarded annually. This award is designed to recognize and honor technical college instructors who make significant contributions to technical education through innovation and leadership in their fields. Instructors are nominated for the Rick Perkins Award by their peers. Competition among instructors occurs at the college, regional, and state levels.
Four finalists participated in the interviews. They were: Toby Heard (Auto Technology Instructor- Valdosta Campus), Jennifer Ray (Radiologic Technology Program Coordinator – Valdosta Campus), Tommy Ponsell (Commercial Truck Driving Program Coordinator- Coffee Campus), and Janet "Rainy" Rasmussen – Commercial Truck Driving Instructor).
Ponsell was nominated by his peers throughout the college. He is described as "committed to his students and ensures an adequate workforce for the region. He has shown commitment and dedication to Wiregrass and to our communities for many years. He will be an excellent instructor of the year." Ponsell is credited to having started the truck driving program at the college and his students have consistently passed the CDL driving exam with 100 percent pass rate. He is sought out for his instructional technique and methodology.
Ponsell shared, "My goal as an instructor is to not only teach students a particular set of skills, but to also help open doors to brighter futures. I believe that teaching positive work ethics not only helps to serve the students, but their community as well. I want the transportation industry to be proud of not only the skills that our students possess, but professional attitudes as well."
Nicole West, Student Navigator, serves as the Rick Perkins Coordinator.
The following instructors were nominated and participated in the selection process for the instructor award (in alphabetical order): Adann-Kennn Alexxandar, Adult Education Instructor; Frank Barnett, Pharmacy Technology Program Coordinator; Roy Bramley, Auto Collision and Sheet Metal Fabrication Instructor; Brittany Braswell, Criminal Justice Instructor; Kiva Brownlee, Adult Education Instructor; Cabot Carlton, Welding Instructor; Sherry Carroll, Psychology Instructor; Joy Clemons, Cosmetology Instructor; Denese Davis Areal Director- Health and Management Professions; Tim Drexler, Computer Information Systems Instructor; Deanna Edwards, Business Education Instructor; Alyssa Foskey, Business Management Program Coordinator; Linda Gelatt, Business Administration Technology Instructor; Randy Harrell, Math Instructor; Liane Holbrook, Area Director- Social and Physical Sciences; Vicky Honeycutt, Business Education Instructor; Cathy Leeman, English Instructor; April Lott, Cosmetology Program Coordinator; Don Mason, Math Instructor; Katherine Pack, Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs; Wally Rewis Area Director- Technical and Industrial; Darlene Ridley, Director of ASN Program; Cherlyn Sands-Anderson, Adult Education Instructor; Kayla Tillman, Business Education Instructor; Alison Watkins, Area Director- Business Technology, Accounting, and Education; Scott Watson, Air Conditioning Technology Instructor; and Tabitha Wilcox, Cosmetology Program Coordinator.
Ponsell will represent Wiregrass at the regional interview competition in February at the Tifton campus of Southern Regional Technical College. All college winners will represent their colleges in April at the state Rick Perkins and GOAL (student of the year program) awards event where the region winners and state winner will be announced.