The 2022 Project Excellence Educators for Warren County Career Center are Dental Assisting Instructor Holly Todd, CODA, and Project Lead The Way Instructor at Wayne Local Schools Nik Otto.
Holly Todd began teaching in 2016 after serving on a WCCC committee that determined the viability of starting a dental assisting program at the school. When the committee and the school board decided to move forward with a dental program, she was asked if she had ever considered teaching.
“WCCC is my first venture into the full-time teaching world,” Ms. Todd said. “Teaching dental assisting was something I had considered for many years. Not having a bachelors' degree in education, I assumed teaching would never be an option for me. After further discussion with the school administration, I did a little research and discovered I could obtain an alternative license that would allow me to teach career tech. I applied, was selected as a finalist for the position and to my delight, was offered the position in 2016. We opened the program in August 2016 with no books, no equipment and no experience, but we quickly got some donations and were able to succeed. We had six students our first year and since then, we've been blessed with an absolutely amazing educational lab at the WCCC Atrium Campus. I have been personally blessed with an amazing team of coworkers, administrators and support. This has been an experience I never imagined and one of the most rewarding chapters in my life.”
Ms. Todd took her first position in a dental office in her junior year of high school, while she was studying dental assisting at Scarlet Oaks. She worked as a dental assistant for nearly 42 years prior to teaching. Now in her sixth year, her love of teaching shows as she shares her knowledge with students to prepare them for their careers.
“I love my kids,” she said. “I enjoy the tears, the smiles, the achievements, the setbacks...and most importantly, sharing in their growth and the successes each of them experiences as they become responsible members of our community. In my lifetime, I have been blessed with four children, family and friends, and amazing life experiences I could never have imagined. I discovered my confidence and my career passion as a high school student in a career tech program. When I started down that path 40 years ago, I never imagined that path would come full circle. I am truly grateful for this opportunity.”
Nik Otto began teaching for WCCC in the PLTW satellite program at Waynesville in 2017. Prior to teaching, he worked in the engineering field from 2011 to 2015 in various roles and industries while working on his Bachelor of Science degree. He graduated in 2011 with an Associate of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology from Cincinnati State and completed his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering Technology in 2015 from the University of Cincinnati. He was ranked number one in his graduating class at both institutions. He completed a graduate STEM certificate from UC in 2018 and expects to graduate with a Master’s degree in curriculum and instruction in summer 2022.
“Watching students light up when they learn or accomplish something new brings me joy when I teach,” he said. “I also love the variety of challenges that every day brings. I do what I do to make the world a better place for my kids, family, and community. Thanks to my wife of almost seven years, Becky, and two awesome children, Addie and Idetta, for all of their support during late nights and long weekends. My current project is restoration of a 100-year-old farmhouse in Clarksville and actively farming a 6-plus acre plot, which was vacant for over five years.”