OCtech Honors 2020 Educators of the Year
Three faculty and staff members have been honored as Orangeburg-Calhoun Technical College’s Educators of the Year and were recognized during the South Carolina Technical Education Association’s annual conference Feb. 13-15 in Myrtle Beach.
Williette Waring Berry, assistant vice president of academic affairs, is the outstanding administrator; Stefanie Gadson Brown, assistant dean of Arts and Science-Health Science Prep, is the outstanding faculty member; and Connie Hoffman, data management coordinator at OCtech, is the outstanding staff honoree.
SCTEA is a professional association of technical education personnel and others interested in post-secondary technical education.
Berry, a member of the South Carolina Bar and Orangeburg County Bar, has been a full-time instructor at OCtech for 16 years. Prior to that, she served as an adjunct for three years.
This is her second Educator of the Year award.
“I knew since the third grade that I wanted to be a lawyer, and I did everything to make that dream a reality,” she said, earning a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of South Carolina in 1993 and graduating from Wake Forest University School of Law in 1996.
“Along the way, I met a man who saw something in me that made him think I would make a good teacher,” Berry said. “I didn’t know anything about teaching, but I did know a lot about learning. I gave it my all. I wanted to impart knowledge in a way that was practical, yet challenging. However, while the students were supposed to be learning from me, I found myself learning from them. Before I knew it, I had left the full-time practice of law and was hired as an instructor in the Paralegal and Criminal Justice programs at OCtech.”
In 2008, Berry received a Certificate in High Education Administration/Leadership from USC. She previously served as assistant dean and dean of Business, Computer Technology, Education and Public Service at OCtech.
“Teaching and learning has been at the forefront of my life, so when asked to become a dean, I jumped at the opportunity,” she said. “Not only was I an advocate for students, but I was now an advocate for my colleagues.”
Berry has worked with the Guardian ad Litem program in Orangeburg and Calhoun counties, and is an active member – and immediate past first vice president and assistant financial secretary – of the Orangeburg Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. She currently serves on the CASA Family Systems and High School for Health Professions boards.
At OCtech, Berry has served on the Faculty Council, Advising Committee, FPMS Committee, Curriculum Committee, Student Appeals Committee, New Employee Onboarding Work Team and several interview panels. She is a graduate of Leadership Orangeburg and actively volunteers with the OCtech Foundation’s annual fundraising events.
“What I like best about working at OCtech is the sense of community among my colleagues,” she said. “It is a joy to work with such a close-knit group of people who are supportive and genuine in their actions.”
Brown began working at OCtech in August 2010 as an adjunct medical terminology instructor. In May 2012, she became program coordinator for the Patient Care Technician and Emergency Medical Technician programs, and began teaching biology in spring 2018.
Last summer, Brown was promoted to assistant dean of the college’s healthcare prep programs.
“Working at OCtech has shown me the many opportunities available to make an impact in our students’ lives,” she said. “To be able to educate, mentor and guide students from various backgrounds to meaningful employment is extremely fulfilling.”
Brown is a recent graduate of the Medical University of South Carolina’s Doctor of Health Administration program. She is a member of the Association of Schools for the Allied Health Professions, American College of Healthcare Executives, Delta Mu Delta International Honor Society and SCTEA. Brown is co-chair of the college’s Advising Council and the recipient of two Outstanding Civil Service Awards from the Department of the Army. She has previously worked as a recreation assistant, manager and engineer.
“I really enjoy advising students, especially if time allows for in-depth conversations,” Brown said. “These types of dialogue give me a chance to understand their situations. I can help my students by providing educational support and contributing to the Foundation. In that quest to make an impact, I really feel like we all work together as a team, from Physical Plant to faculty to Student Services and the Business Office.”
“While my occupation is teaching others, I feel this experience has taught me more than I could have ever expected,” she said.
Hoffman has been a member of the college’s Institutional Effectiveness department – where she began working as an administrative specialist – for 14 years. She received two associate degrees from OCtech, and a bachelor’s degree in organizational management from Claflin University and Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix.
“My duties are performed independently and as a team player on a variety of data management projects,” she said. “I have taken advantage of the many opportunities to enroll and complete courses that enable me to better fulfill my position as data management coordinator/data coach in the IE department. I value all learning experiences and take advantage of those moments to increase my knowledge and help me become a more productive employee. I enjoy sharing my knowledge with my coworkers.”
Hoffman is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, where she serves as nursery leader. She previously served as president of the church’s Primary children’s organization and Relief Society women’s organization, and taught seminary to high schoolers.
At OCtech, Hoffman has served on Staff Council, is an OCtech Foundation supporter, and was a past advisor and consultant for the Alpha Alpha Delta Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa. She is also a past bylaws chair and secretary of the Orangeburg-Calhoun Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals and has volunteered with Relay for Life.
As a student, Hoffman was featured in Who’s Who Among Colleges and Universities, and was named an OCtech Foundation scholar, Claflin University Silver Medallion recipient, National Collegiate Business Award nominee, All USA Academic Scholarship nominee, Professional Business Women Foundation scholar, South Carolina National Bank scholar and Most Distinguished Chapter Member of OCtech’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter.
“Working at OCtech has given me the opportunity to grow personally and professionally in a family environment,” Hoffman said. “I love the variety of work that my position allows me to perform and the new skills I am able to master. The family atmosphere brings support and encouragement, which is so important, as I work to become a more resourceful employee. I truly enjoy my job and am thankful for those I work with.”