WCCC News Article

Charla Cornwell Named 2018 Project Excellence Instructor

Teacher with students

Science Instructor Charla Cornwell is the Warren County Career Center 2018 Project Excellence Educator.

She has been teaching for 20 years at WCCC and prior to that, she worked as a technician at Mound Laboratories in Miamisburg for 16 years. After earning her Associate of Engineering Technology degree at Miami University, she began as a lab technician, but she always wanted to be a teacher. An announcement at work that the plant was closing and offering employees a $10,000 education certificate opened the door for her to go back to school and pursue teaching.

“I got the opportunity to have a second chance to do what I have always wanted to do,” she said. “It was a new beginning for me when the company was going to shut down, and I welcomed it.”

She took about a year to earn her Bachelor of Secondary Education Science degree at Miami and got a long-term substitute position at Middletown Alternative School for a half-year before accepting a full-time science teacher position at WCCC. She went on to earn her Master of Teaching in Biology, also at Miami University.

“I had always wanted to teach at a vocational school, and the job came open at WCCC in 1997,” she said. “I was hired, and everyone was so welcoming. The Career Center is a welcoming environment, and I felt at home and that I had made the right decision.”

In 20 years, Mrs. Cornwell has seen many changes in the way instruction is delivered. “The biggest change is the movement from chalk to computers,” she said. “Technology has become so prevalent, and it is so good for instruction. Students are such visual learners, and technology taps into that.  I used to have to walk around the classroom with a book, and point and show each student an illustration. Now I project it on a screen.”

She currently teaches anatomy and biotechnology, but over the years, she has taught all the sciences from botany to biology, and principles of technology to cosmetology anatomy.

“The best part of teaching is contributing in some way to my students’ success,” she said. “In a career tech school, students already know what they want to do and they understand the value of what I am teaching. Many of my colleagues and I come in contact with previous students, especially for me, in the health care field. I see a familiar face, and they say ‘you helped me so much.’ That’s the reason I teach. If I never got an award, it would be OK because the satisfaction of seeing my students become successful gives me what I need.”

Mrs. Cornwell and her husband Dale live in Madison Township. They have a son Loren, 25. When not teaching, she enjoys gardening, reading and kayaking. The family travels to different places to kayak together and have fun.

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