OCtech Honors 2023 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. 16-18 in Myrtle Beach.
Human Resources director Marie Howell is the outstanding administrator; Automotive Technology program coordinator Kevin Kneece is the outstanding faculty member; and Healthcare Preparation academic advisor Elizabeth Rivers is the outstanding staff honoree.
SCTEA is a professional association of technical education personnel and others interested in post-secondary technical education.
Howell has spent 24 years in human resources, the last 15 of which have been at OCtech. She is a previous Educator of the Year recipient and received the honor in 2018.
“It sounds cliché, but it’s the people that make this job,” she said. “There are so many opportunities to work with people across the campus. It’s personal. You get to know them and interact on different levels, through their celebrations and their struggles.”
Howell is actively involved in campus activities and events outside her department. She co-chairs the college’s employee recognition and reward team and is a longtime supporter of the OCtech Foundation.
“I have been fortunate to work closely with a group of professionals that are supportive, innovative and fun,” she said. “It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of this team.”
Outside OCtech, Howell is a member of the S.C. Higher Education Efficiency Act Human Resources Council board, national and state chapters of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, national and Midlands Society for Human Resources Management, and is the former chair of the S.C. Technical College System’s human resources peer group. She is an active member of Bethel United Methodist Church in Walterboro.
Kneece has more than 25 years of experience in the automotive industry and owns Kneece’s Auto Works LLC in Swansea.
The ASE – Automotive Service Excellence – master technician has been an OCtech instructor for eight years and program coordinator for five years. He serves on the college’s curriculum committee and faculty council.
“I get great gratification from my job, whether it’s helping a coworker, student or our partners in industry,” he said. “My friends and coworkers are very supportive, and always willing to assist when you need them. Where else would I want to work?”
In addition to his automotive experience, Kneece is qualified to teach HVAC and precision measuring, and has completed advanced driver-assistance systems training through Bosch. He also serves as an evaluation team leader for the ASE Education Foundation, helping certify schools on their NATEF – National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation – programs.
Kneece participates in Swansea High School’s student internship program each year. He is an Eagle Scout and active 32nd degree Master Mason.
In her 16 years at OCtech, Rivers has worked in the Financial Aid office as a counselor, assistant director for veterans, college work-study coordinator and outreach services coordinator. She was a success coach advisor for eight years before transitioning to her current role in 2021.
“I get great satisfaction from being in a role where I can make a difference in someone’s life,” Rivers said. “OCtech gives you opportunities to grow. I work with professionals I can learn from, and they push me to take on new and challenging opportunities. Everyone I encounter is supportive and willing to provide help and experience to accomplish the college’s mission.”
Rivers is an active member of OCtech’s employee recognition and reward team, and has served as chair of staff council. She has been recognized for her compassion, dedication and commitment in interactions with her coworkers, students and visitors of the college.
Rivers is past president of the S.C. chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals, where she received the Outstanding Leadership Award. She is also the recipient of the Leadership and Service Award through the S.C. Association of Veterans Administrators. She has been a member of NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising since 2012 and is an active member of Kingdom Life Ministries in Orangeburg.
“OCtech is a great place to work,” Rivers said. “I am surrounded by highly driven and successful people who genuinely care about those they work with and the community in which they live.”