Last updated on September 10, 2021
Every year, Dallas College celebrates its outstanding instructors by naming two winners of the Excellence in Teaching Award, one full-time faculty member and one adjunct faculty member.
Mary Brownfield, Adjunct Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award
Mary Brownfield didn’t grow up aspiring to become a teacher. But it’s clear that the job was meant for her, and after 18 years, it’s clear that Dallas College was meant for her as well. Brownfield was named winner of the 2021 Excellence in Teaching Award for Adjunct Faculty. She was selected from a field of five nominees representing the various Dallas College schools.
Brownfield is an adjunct instructor in the School of Education specializing in early childhood. In 18 years at Eastfield, she has taught Child Development courses and dual credit.
“When I was given the job, especially to work with those who were going to be teachers, it was just like the icing on the cake to be a retired teacher and come back into the system and literally share the love of teaching I have with other teachers,” she said.
She said that currently, her favorite thing is teaching day care workers who are pursuing their Child Development associate degree.
“They can range from right out of school all the way into their 60s,” Brownfield said. “I absolutely love them. They are wonderful.”
But the pandemic and shifting to virtual classes over the past year presented challenges for many of her day care students who were unable to access course materials. She went to them to deliver and explain the course packets so the students could email their work or, if necessary, text a photo of their assignment for her to grade.
“I got permission and I put my mask on, and I went to every one of their day care centers — most of them three times, some of them twice,” she said. “I was determined the pandemic was not going to get in their way — they had worked too hard.”
Her level of commitment to her students reflects the mission of Dallas College, ensuring that students come first.
“Not all students are the same, and you can’t just put them in a little box. You have to see them as individuals, and that’s how Dallas College feels,” she said. “I’m for the students.”
Gemmy Allen, Full-Time Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award and Minnie Stephens Piper Award Nominee
Gemmy Allen is starting her 44th year with Dallas College and will not hesitate to tell you how much she enjoys her students and truly loves her job.
“I like to talk, and I like to read and I like to write. I’ve been blessed to be able to do a lot of creating content at Dallas College,” she said. “Isn’t this the perfect job for me?”
Allen was thrilled to learn she had been selected as the 2021 Full-time Faculty Excellence in Teaching award winner and the Minnie Stevens Piper nominee. She has funneled her years of experience and passion for student success into an innovative approach, using digital resources to help students learn.
Whenever technological advances have changed the way that students learn, Allen has been at the forefront, devising new teaching methods and strategies.
Allen transitioned from a manager at a market research company to community college professor. She taught at Mountain View before moving to North Lake, where she currently serves as faculty for business and management programs.
When she started, telecourses had just been introduced, and she became involved with creating a self-paced option so students weren’t tied to the television broadcast schedule. They could check out video tapes and watch the lessons in the lab at their convenience.
But telecourses were just the beginning of the district’s technological journey — from basic computers to the internet and beyond. Allen was also one of the first instructors to teach a class online.
“I taught at Mountain View 25 years, and I’ve now taught at North Lake for 18 years. Isn’t that crazy?” she said. “The reason why I have been able to do it is everything’s always changing. I like change and I like new things. Technology has really helped. My students all work, so they’ve got to have a way that they can take classes besides always just driving to the campus to take a class.”
Asked how students would describe her, Allen said she hopes they would say she was helpful and gave good advice to help them make better decisions and gain confidence. “I love teaching and really enjoy my students,” she said. “It’s rewarding for me to feel like I’m teaching others a valuable skill but also giving them confidence to take what they know and apply it.”