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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Biology teacher helps students in, out of classes

Biology+teacher+helps+students+in%2C+out+of+classes

By Joshua Knopp/special assignments editor

NW biology professor Lynn Preston’s commitment to TCC students earned her a Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Teaching. She is also a speaker for NW’s Leadership Academy.
Carrie Duke/The Collegian

Part four in a five-part series on winners of the Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Teaching, an annual recognition of professors who impress and inspire their students. 

Science was the only subject that held her attention in grade school.

“I’ve loved science since I was a little girl,” NW biology professor Lynn Preston recounted. “Of all the sciences I studied, biology was the one that I couldn’t get enough of.”

When the time came for her to pick a career, Preston said her passion for biology made the choice clear.

“I figured I needed to get a job where I could talk about science all day long,” she said.

Preston received her bachelor’s degree at Texas Wesleyan University and then her master’s and doctorate at the University of North Texas.

This semester begins her sixth year teaching at TCC. As such, winning the Chancellor’s Award for Exemplary Teaching caught her a bit off guard.

“I was shocked,” she said.

Preston has become a distinguished teacher because of her classroom and curricular work. NW Campus president Elva LeBlanc was quick to point out Preston’s work with Cornerstone, the NW honors program.

“She was involved in the transformation of that program so that it casts a wider net and is more accessible,” LeBlanc said. “The model is so effective that faculty from other campuses are asking her about it. Other districts are contacting her and asking her about her model and how she makes it work at a community college.”

Preston has been approached by South and TR campuses’ administrators seeking to model their honors program after Cornerstone, and Lone Star College in Houston recently visited NW to have a look at it.

She said the program’s success goes right back to the students and faculty who want to be a part of it and the administrators who want it to happen.

“How we structure it, the faculty involvement, it just works,” she said. “Everything just clicks.”

Though rebuilding the Cornerstone program has earned Preston intercollegiate attention, it’s not the only organization she’s been a part of that helps students’ futures.

The biology professor also began the NW Futures in Science Club and the Anatomy and Physiology Boot Camp continuing education course with biology associate professor Janie Moore.

“I started that [the science club] as a way to show students they could make money with a science degree,” Preston said. “A lot of students want to get their bachelor’s in science, but ‘What do I do?’”

The answer, according to Preston, is allied health careers, research careers and, of course, teaching. Biology instructor Miranda Newberry took the program over from Preston this summer after Preston let it go because of other commitments.

Newberry said the club is on track to hold its annual career fair Oct. 24.

Moore said she and Preston started the boot camp because they kept seeing underprepared students in their anatomy and physiology classes fresh out of high school.

“We were finding the same thing over and over again,” Moore said. “Ideally, we would have these students taking biology and chemistry, but that’s not happening.”

Moore said the eight-week boot camp is designed to provide students the biology and chemistry information the anatomy and physiology courses assume they already know. The noncredit course has been held twice, once during the second eight-week session last fall and once in May. It will be offered as needed.

On top of it all, Preston is currently writing a human sexuality book with psychology and human sexuality instructor Jay Green and government assistant professor Paul Benson.

Preston said it will be the only interdisciplinary human sexuality book, with her covering the anatomy aspects, Green covering psychological aspects and Benson writing about laws that affect sexuality. Most human sexuality books are written from a psychological point of view, she said. The scheduled print date is in 2014.

Preston said out of the schools where she’s taught, she believes the students set TCC apart.

“I love it. I was very lucky to get in here,” she said. “I’ve taught at two major universities. Whereas I loved teaching at those universities, the students I encounter here are so serious and driven.”

Despite her heavy workload, and perhaps because of it, she volunteers as a time management speaker for NW’s Leadership Academy, a series of student skills workshops organized by student development services director Vesta Martinez.

“With all the stuff I have going on, Dr. Martinez said, ‘You would be good at time management,’” Preston recalled. “I would say I’m learning time management out of necessity.”

The teacher said prioritizing is the most important thing a student can do.

“You figure out right now at this moment what is the most important thing in your world and work back from there,” she said. “There’s a time for everything, and you need to figure out what that is and work around it.”

Because she has her priorities straight, Preston always finds time for her students.

Taylor Holsomback and Alex Baumann, pre-med students in Preston’s Anatomy and Physiology II class, said she keeps the class interesting.

“That’s why I took her again,” Holsomback said. “I like her. She makes understanding easy.”

Baumann found Preston relatable and said that she connected anatomy to common knowledge as much as possible.

“She makes class fun,” he said. “She has great analogies.”

Five years in and counting, Preston still continues to be wowed by how much there is to do at TCC.

“There are so many great things that TCC offers that I want to be a part of,” she said.

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