Lewis named ACCT Western Region Faculty Award recipient
08.02.2017 | By Andrea Vasquez
HOUSTON – Can a nationally recognized, award-winning math professor who didn’t finish high school change students’ lives? Yes. And that’s exactly what San Jacinto College math professor Matt Lewis is doing.
In recognizing his accomplishments, the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) has named Lewis its 2017 Western Region Faculty Award recipient. ACCT's Regional Awards recognize the tremendous contributions made by community colleges and their leaders to meet the needs of their communities. The ACCT annually recognizes community college leaders from each region with its Trustee Leadership Award, Equity Award, Faculty Member Award, Chief Executive Officer Award, and Professional Board Staff Member Award. One outstanding award recipient in each category will be announced during the annual ACCT awards gala in September.
“This award underscores the quality of the hard work of many collaborators and leaders who make San Jacinto College such a special place to be,” said Lewis. “I am incredibly honored to receive it on our behalf.”
Lewis has taken an active leadership role in ensuring that San Jacinto College continues to keep student success at the forefront. He served on the faculty committee that developed the College’s nationally recognized Acceleration in Mathematics (AIM) program, a largely successful co-requisite math remediation program where students have seen a 70 percent success rate since its implementation across the district in 2014. More recently, Lewis has helped design the College’s SmartStart program as part of the College’s implementation of the national American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Pathways Project. The program features a student cohort model that consists of contextualized instruction with integrated student support, student and faculty learning communities and guided career pathway evaluation and selection.
“Our faculty consistently raise the bar for community college education at the state and national levels, and Matt Lewis is no exception,” said Dr. Brenda Hellyer, San Jacinto College Chancellor. “Matt has made a tremendous impact on student success at San Jacinto College. As the College moves forward with the implementation of the AACC Pathways work, Matt continues to provide extraordinary faculty leadership and innovative approaches to developmental education, instructional redesign, assessment and collaboration. We are thrilled that he has been named the 2017 ACCT Western Region Faculty Award recipient.”
Lewis’ love for learning led him to college at an early age. Little did he know that it would also lead him to one of the things he enjoys most- teaching. “Since I was 15, I wanted to be in college,” said Lewis. “I had some college friends, and during spring break of my sophomore year of high school, I went to school with them and was amazed. The following year I convinced my parents to let me take the GED. I passed with no problems, and instead of returning to high school after Christmas break, I started college. Since then, teaching has allowed me to stay where I always wanted to be.”
He adds that creating small, tangible victories early on in a student’s educational journey is what ignites that motivational spark, giving them the confidence and determination to conquer their individual obstacles and provide support for their peers. It’s a concept that many of the College’s faculty are implementing in their classrooms. “Students’ optimism is an incredible resource. If you can get a student to feel optimistic, you can use that to help them. They become resilient because of it. What works at San Jacinto College is our culture. This isn’t a place where you can easily be complacent because there’s always passionate people around you trying to innovate and do better for our students; without that climate I don’t think any one of us would be accomplishing what’s happening here. There’s no better place to be in community college education right now.”
“Community colleges are one-of-a-kind institutions committed to open-access, high-quality higher education for all Americans,” said ACCT Chair and Hudson County Community College Vice Chair Bakari G. Lee, Esq. “This year's regional ACCT awardees represent the most outstanding people and programs from throughout the country, and we are pleased to be able to bring attention to them.”
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. As a fiscally sound institution, the College currently holds bond ratings of AA and Aa2 by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, respectively. San Jacinto College is a 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Rising Star Award recipient and an Achieving the Dream Leader College. Approximately 45,000 credit and non-credit students each semester benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success. The College offers eight areas of study that prepare a diverse body of students to transfer to four-year colleges or universities or enter the workforce with the skills needed to support the growing industries along the Texas Gulf Coast. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.