Renton Technical College instructor Alma Meza has received the prestigious 2018 Pacific Regional Faculty Member Award from the Association of Community College Trustees. She is the first RTC faculty member to receive this honor since the awards began in 1985.
The ACCT Pacific Region includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, the Pacific Islands, the Yukon Territory, and British Columbia. She received the Washington state award in May.
“We’re delighted that ACCT has discovered what we already know: Alma is one of the finest teachers there is,” RTC President Kevin McCarthy said. “Her belief in the power of education and investment in her students – in knowing their individual stories and goals – inspire their success.”
Meza is a tenured faculty member in RTC’s College and Career Pathways program, where she has been instrumental in developing the College’s bilingual High School 21 program to help English language learners earn their diplomas. Since joining the full-time faculty three years ago, she has become a beloved teacher and valued member of the community. She is known to be an inspiring, creative, and dedicated teacher.
“I just love teaching, because you can really make a difference,” Meza said.
In addition to her classroom work, Meza has helped the College build stronger partnerships with the Spanish-speaking community, including with the Mexican consulate. She served on RTC’s Strategic Planning Steering Committee and facilitated forums for Spanish speakers.
Meza serves as a lead faculty member for a grant through Achieving the Dream (AtD), which focuses on better supporting adjunct faculty and helping more students of color transition from basic studies to STEM fields. She helped plan the STEM*E Summit at RTC and was one of the presenters at the 2018 Achieving the Dream Conference in February, showcasing RTC’s Strategic Plan strategies for inclusive planning and assessment. She also presented at the RTC Reading Apprenticeship Conference.
Teaching and supporting student success remain her top priority. Through innovative approaches to bilingual instruction, Meza incorporates highly engaging topics and learning activities that challenge students and help them build academic skills in both Spanish and English. She helps students incorporate ESL classes in their college and career plans and collaborates with her workforce colleagues to create bilingual curricula in other RTC programs.
“Alma creates a welcoming and inclusive classroom where Spanish speakers are empowered to build their academic skills and seek support in other areas,” Novotny said. “Each student is celebrated and contributes in his or her own unique way to the highly supportive learning community.”
The regional award will be presented at the Annual ACCT Leadership Congress in New York in October. Meza is the sole nominee from the region for the national faculty award.