July will mark 25 years of service for Marietta Candler at the University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville (UACCB), and she said she can never see herself doing anything else.
“Teaching gets in your blood. I fell in love with it my first year, and I knew this is what I wanted to do forever. I’ve never lost my love for it,” Candler said. “As a teacher, you never stop learning yourself, and I enjoy the challenge of finding creative ways to help students learn.”
The décor in Candler’s office gives visitors and students a glimpse into her caring and compassionate nature. One plaque reads, ‘Nursing is a work of heart,’ while another states, ‘No student will rise to low expectations.’ Candler’s passion for teaching and unwavering dedication to prepare her students to be compassionate caregivers led to her receiving the 2019 American Association of Community College’s (AACC) Dale P. Parnell Faculty Distinction Recognition. One distinguished faculty recognition is awarded in each state across the nation. When Candler received word that she had received the prestigious distinction, she was shocked.
“I was in total shock. I had no idea that Ms. Frazier [UACCB chancellor] had nominated me. I am very honored,” she said.
Chancellor Deborah Frazier stated in a letter of support for Candler’s nomination that “Candler leads by example, often participating with her students in community service projects.” She has received UACCB’s Outstanding Faculty Award twice, in 2004 and again in 2016. The recipient of this award is selected based on peer and student nominations. To be selected twice is a true testament to the value Candler’s students and co-workers place on her skills as an educator.
“Marietta is a natural choice for this recognition. She does so much for students and the programs both inside and outside the classroom,” said Dr. Brian Shonk, vice chancellor for academic affairs.
According to the AACC, the distinction, named in honor of former AACC president and CEO Dale P. Parnell, was created to recognize individuals “making a difference in the classroom.” Candler is certainly doing that. Frazier noted in her nomination letter that under Candler’s leadership, the nursing department has experienced tremendous growth.
Under Candler’s guidance, the nursing and allied health division has been innovative in seeking student initiatives and new technologies. UACCB’s nursing and allied health department was the first in the country to receive a Nursing Anne simulator designed specifically for training undergraduate nursing students. Through a partnership with White River Medical Center, the division is working with a nationally recognized nursing education consultant to implement concept-based curriculum for UACCB’s nursing programs. This new curriculum focuses on teaching students broad concepts of patient care rather than content memorization.
UACCB’s nursing pass rates have also exceeded state and national averages. In 2017, the graduating class of practical nursing students had a 100% pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) exam. The nursing and allied health division was also nominated as a finalist for the Batesville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Leader in Education Award this year.
Candler has not slowed her efforts to continually improve the nursing and allied health division. She said she has worked with faculty to restructure the practical nursing program curriculum, which resulted in an increased retention in that program. Within the last year, Candler said the nursing and allied health division has worked to develop partnerships with White River Medical Center and Unity Health to give students insight to the unique cultures of each facility and provide a clearer understanding of the nursing profession.
“Students chosen agree to do their clinicals at the facility they are selected by. In return, the medical facility helps them pay for tuition, books, and other expenses associated with the program,” Candler said.
The division also applied for campus mini-grant funds to pay for practice tests for the practical nursing students to help them prepare for the NCLEX. All of the students who took the practice exam passed their board exam. Mini-grant funding also allowed registered nursing students to attend a national pharmacology conference hosted on UACCB’s campus featuring Barb Bancroft, RN, MSN, PNP, a motivational keynote speaker on health maintenance topics for numerous nursing associations, medical associations and dental associations as well as for corporate groups and events.
“The conference was so successful that Ms. Bancroft will be returning to campus in October this year,” Candler said.
Candler said the success of the nursing and allied health division would not be possible without the support of the faculty and staff. “I am blessed to work with an excellent group of faculty and staff members who develop innovative initiatives to help meet the needs of our students,” she said.
As an AACC Distinguished Faculty honoree, Candler will receive recognition on the AACC Faculty Wall of Distinction as well as the AACC website. She has also been invited to attend a private reception for honorees at the AACC 99th annual convention in April in Orlando, Fla.
Article By Hannah Keller Flanery
UACCB Communications and Marketing Coordinator