Bernards wins American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges Teaching Excellence Award
Portland Community College math instructor Jessica Bernards has been selected as a recipient of the 2021 American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges (AMATYC) Teaching Excellence Award. Bernards is the first instructor from PCC to earn the prestigious national recognition.
The AMATYC Teaching Excellence Award is given in odd-numbered years to instructors who have made outstanding contributions to teaching mathematics in the first two years of college. It recognizes instructional effectiveness, professional involvement, interaction with colleagues, and service to the department.
Bernards, who said the award had been a dream since she first started teaching, will be honored along with her fellow 2021 award recipients at the AMATYC Annual Conference in Phoenix on Oct. 28.
“I remember watching the award winners from two years ago and being in awe of the work they’ve done,” she said. “Receiving this award motives me to become a better teacher in the future and inspires me to continue learning and growing in the profession.”
Known as an instructional innovator, Bernards said her focus is always on creating “aha” moments for her students, particularly those with the highest levels of anxiety about math.
“I try to make every effort to connect with each individual student in my classroom to not only help them learn mathematics, but feel a part of a supportive, inclusive learning community where they feel safe and have fun,” she said.
Part of that process has been developing new teaching methods, such as the Flipped Plus Model she created with PCC colleague Wendy Fresh, that boosts achievement and completion rates. During the pandemic, Bernards and Fresh teamed up once again to solicit input from others around the country and then releasing a series of free remote learning study skills videos that are now used at colleges and high schools across the nation.
“It’s inside these partnerships and collaborations with others that I find the most pride,” Bernards said. “My work is only one example of the phenomenal work that our faculty does when they’re given the resources they need.”
Bernards said she’s excited to continue working with and learning from her students, to better address their needs and provide the best instruction possible.
“There is still so much work to be done and I never know where my students are going to take me next,” she said. “This is the heart and soul of why I continue to be an educator.”