Isothermal’s top teaching award goes to McCluney
By: Mike Gavin
Published: May 18, 2021
SPINDALE (May 18, 2021) – Dr. Alice McCluney, an Early Childhood Education instructor at Isothermal Community College, earned the institution’s highest teaching honor this week.
The 2021 Robert Wendell Eaves Distinguished Teaching Award was presented to McCluney by Dr. Margaret Annunziata, Isothermal’s president, at the 2021 Curriculum Commencement on Monday.
McCluney has just completed her fifteenth year at Isothermal. She was nominated by several students.
One nominator said McCluney is “very dedicated to making sure students have all of the tools and skills they need to succeed in their chosen profession.”
She has spent many hours working to better Isothermal though her service to organizations including faculty senate, the Team for the Advancement of the Learning College, and the Quality Enhancement Plan Implementation Team. McCluney serves the college and community through her work with several local- and state-level organizations.
Service to Isothermal is one of her great strengths. She even took a break from teaching for a period of time to serve in an administrative capacity. Yet her passion for making a difference with students led her back to the classroom.
“Motivation comes with relationships,” McCluney said to her interview committee. “I find that my purest joy and strength is within the classroom and directly in the community that my programs serve. I adore my students and teaching. It is a passion that has been reignited in the last few years for me after a long absence from the classroom. I think that passion comes through in the classroom and I appreciate the opportunity to share my love with the committee.”
She has been a finalist for this award for each of the past four years.
Isothermal is a true family affair for McCluney. In fact, she kind of grew up on campus. Her mother worked at ICC when she was young and the school bus would drop her off at the college in the afternoons. To add to her family connection, she is also married to Jeremiah McCluney, the principal of REaCH, the college’s early college high school.
The first winner of the Eaves Award in 1982 was McCluney’s mother, Dr. Nancy Womack.
The Robert Wendell Eaves Distinguished Teaching Award is given each year to an instructor who demonstrates excellence in teaching and a true zeal for service to students. It was established by the Eaves family in 1982 to honor the late Dr. Robert Wendell Eaves and his distinguished career in education.
Dr. Eaves’ philosophy and credo on the importance of teaching was simple: “A zeal for service is the first requirement of professionalization. Without a zeal for service, our efforts as educators are void and helpless. We cannot expect remuneration commensurate with our achievements. Our remuneration comes largely from the joy of seeing people grow strong, useful and intelligent. This is the best life has to offer. No greater life can anyone live.”
Each year, the recipient is selected by a committee composed of past award recipients from nominations submitted by students, alumni, college personnel and members of the general public. Any full-time employee of Isothermal who spends at least 25 percent of his or her time on the job in teaching is eligible for the award.
Other past winners have included Ruth Boehning, Vivian Sitton, Clara Fowler, Chris Koone, Carol Jones, Pete Golden, Aubrey Calton, Bill McDaniel, Dean Byrd, Gary Shipley, Mike Croussore, Lowery Luckadoo, Jay Coomes, Rhonda Davis, Cathy Alexander, Debbie Puett, Scott Bradey, Jeremiah Councill, Donna Harrison, Tim Beaver, Brett Parker, Amber Thompson, Melissa Johnson, Nathan Fisher, Scott Hutchins, Loreen Smith, Marisa Sudano, Jeremy Burris, Rebecca Haney, and last year’s winner, Bret Watson.
The other Eaves finalists this year were Carole Kohler and Kimberly Snyder.