Three faculty and staff members have been honored as Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College’s Educators of the Year and are being recognized during the South Carolina Technical Education Association’s annual conference Feb. 15-17 in Myrtle Beach.
Amanda Dempsey, a financial aid counselor at OCtech, is the outstanding staff honoree; Marie Howell, human resources director, is the outstanding administrator; and Xennie Weeks, an early childhood education instructor, is the outstanding faculty member.
SCTEA is a professional association of technical education personnel and others interested in post-secondary technical education.
Dempsey has worked at OCtech for six years and serves as the financial aid operations coordinator. She has also served as the Pell Grant and Federal Work-Study Program coordinator for the college.
“Higher education is my passion. I believe in the outcome of my efforts and the efforts of my coworkers,” Dempsey said. “Our students face many obstacles in obtaining their degrees. OCtech strives to provide excellent programs of study and resources to assist our students to not just start their college goals, but to complete them and graduate.”
Dempsey began her career in higher education as a Federal Work-Study in 1999. Prior to coming to OCtech, she worked as a bookstore manager for six years and a fiscal technician for two years at the University of South Carolina-Salkehatchie. While at OCtech, she has served as interim director of financial aid.
Dempsey is an active member of Grace Baptist Church in Orangeburg and the community group No Excuse Fitness and Herbal Life. Professionally, she is a member of the South Carolina Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administration.
“OCtech is family. I spend more time working with these great individuals than I do with my own family,” Dempsey said. “The work is meaningful and satisfying, I am given a voice and feel valued, and there are always opportunities to grow professionally. Looking forward to going to work is as equally enjoyed as looking forward to going home to my family, which speaks volumes for the work environment at OCtech.”
Howell has served as the college’s human resources director since June 2007. Prior to joining OCtech, she worked as employment manager and nurse recruiter for Sisters of Charity Providence Hospitals, nurse recruiter and HR coordinator at Trident Health Systems, and HR manager and HR specialist at Breckenridge Lodging and Hospitality/Vail Resorts.
“I enjoy working with the employees of the college,” Howell said. “I also like the challenges that are part of working in HR. Since the moment I walked in the front doors, I have been made to feel a welcomed and valued member of the OCtech team.”
Howell is an active member of Bethel United Methodist Church in Walterboro. She serves on the Higher Education Efficiency and Administrative Policies Act board, and is a member of the Midlands Society for Human Resource Management, South Carolina Technical College System HR Peer Group, and College and University HR Director Group. She oversees the WHO Employees Award Committee at OCtech.
Weeks spent most of his career as an elementary school teacher and administrator prior to coming to OCtech as an early childhood education instructor five years ago. Previous honors include Calhoun County District Teacher of the Year, South Carolina Independent School Association Teacher of the Year and South Carolina State Teacher of the Year finalist.
“I am so happy to be at OCtech,” he said. “The feeling of being a part of an educational institution that cares about its students and staff means a lot to me. I love the people that work with me. They are my family.”
Weeks is an active member of First Baptist Church, where he serves as a Sunday school teacher and deacon. He also serves on the board of the Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center, Cope Area Career Center, Orangeburg-Calhoun-Allendale-Bamberg Community Action Agency Inc. Head Start and First Baptist Church Child Development Center; volunteers with the Calhoun County Museum; and is involved in Educators Rising, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Miss South Carolina Scholarship Program and Clean Sweep Orangeburg.
At the college, Weeks is a member of Faculty Council and the OCtech Student Appeals Committee, volunteers with the foundation’s Home and Garden Symposium and Evening of Fine Wines and Foods, and helps coordinate the Guidance Counselor Leadership Institute.
“I love being a part of an institution that makes a difference,” he said. “Every day is different, and I get to interact with such a varied group of people. I am indeed blessed.”