Math professor receives NWC Teaching Excellence Award

Dr. Kim Jongerius, professor of mathematics at Northwestern College, has been named this year’s recipient of the Northwestern Teaching Excellence Award. She received a $1,500 check and a plaque at the college’s Honors Convocation on May 3.

The award is sponsored by the Alumni Association and the Student Government Association (SGA).  Students nominated 22 professors for the honor, with 53 nominations being received. A selection committee—composed of two SGA members, three members of the Sigma Tau senior honor society and the past two award winners—pared the nominees to two finalists. Factors considered in the decision-making process included the number of nominations in relation to candidates’ teaching loads, quality of nominations, professional development, research and publications, institutional service and student course evaluations.

The other finalist was Dr. Mike Kugler, associate professor of history.

Students who nominated Jongerius for the award described her as challenging and helpful, citing difficult homework assignments and tests but a willingness to assist students with learning.

“Kim challenges students to reach their fullest potential, stretching them beyond their capabilities to bring about a full understanding and appreciation for the classes that she teaches,” wrote one.

Another said, “Her classes are very, very challenging, but because of these challenges, I have grown so much. She has taught me how to use my mind in different ways to figure out the answers.”

“Kim excels at caring for her students,” wrote a third student. “She is always willing to help outside of class time and wants every student to succeed. I have come to her about both academic and personal needs, and she has proven to be an encouraging source of support.”

Jongerius, who majored in both math and English as an undergraduate at Northern Arizona University, does more than just help her students gain mathematical knowledge. Her students say she requires them to become better writers in her classes and helps them develop communication skills through small-group work.

One student summarized: “She brings out the best in all of us by bringing us together as a team, challenging us with difficult math problems, guiding us to solve those problems, helping us when we struggle, and encouraging us when we succeed. As a math teaching major, I hope to emulate many of the qualities I see in Kim because I consider her to be a great teacher.”

A member of the Northwestern faculty since 1993, Jongerius also is serving as interim associate dean of curriculum. She has served the college in a number of roles, including as co-director of the Honors Program, faculty representative to the Student Government Association, chair of the Faculty Evaluation Task Force and a member of the Strategic Thinking Council.

A reviewer for calculus and intermediate algebra textbooks, Jongerius has been published in the Journal of Pure and Applied Algebra. She earned doctoral and master’s degrees in mathematics from Colorado State University.