Dihlmann, Dillingham CCC faculty of the year 2015-16

Elaine Dillingham (left) and Sandra Dihlmann Lunday have been selected 2015-16 Faculty of the Year. 


FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- One helps students paint a picture with words; the other with a brush. 

Yet there is a common bond: Coconino Community College students nominated them for faculty of the year 2015-16. English faculty Sandra Dihlmann Lunday gets the nod for full-time Faculty of the Year, and Art faculty Elaine Dillingham gets part-time Faculty of the Year. 


Dihlmann has been teaching composition and creative writing at CCC for the last 15 years -- five of those part time. She said she sees her job more as a conduit to help students empower themselves, and to help "light a fire," rather than "fill a pail," as described by poet W.B. Yeats. 

The key for Dihlmann is removing rote memorization and, instead, having a dialogue with the students, so they can fully understand connections and think critically. 

"On the one hand, I'm honored to receive the thoughtful acknowledgement from students and my peers," Dihlmann said of being selected as teacher of the year. "Because English Composition is a required course, it can be challenging to inspire students to enjoy reading, writing and researching, so I sincerely appreciate the time and effort the students took to nominate me. On the other hand, teaching is a team effort, and this honor represents the hard work of all faculty and staff at the college." 

Student Dylan Weatherhead wrote in his nominating form, "Sandy's love of writing and literature really comes through in her lectures. I could tell by her feedback that she appreciated the work and efforts that the students put in on their presentations and essays." 

Student Melissa Murphy wrote, "Her enthusiasm toward her students and her job are outstanding in so many different ways. She always comes into class happy and upbeat when she is teaching ..." 

"I find my greatest job in discussing ideas with a diverse student body and gleaning new and different perspectives concerning the material we read," Dihlmann said. "If I'm learning, then I know the students in the classroom are, too." 

Dihlmann earned her bachelor's degree in English from NAU in 1997. She completed graduate work in The Writing Seminars at John Hopkins University in 1999. In addition to teaching, she volunteers as the co-advisor for the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society's Beta Gamma Chi chapter and also serves as the faculty coordinator for two student publications: "Curios" and "OnCourse." She finds both experiences equally rewarding. 


Dillingham has been teaching part-time at CCC since 2003, and the students have been her focus. 

"It means everything," Dillingham said of getting the nod from students. "It could not be more meaningful. Coming from the students, for me, is really the ultimate affirmation. I'm very appreciative and surprised." 

A group of 13 students sent in a nominating form for Dillingham, and stated, "She insists on the practice of the essential principles of art making, but continually creates new, relevant and exciting projects. She challenges students to integrate basic concepts into products they can be proud of."

The group also wrote, "Her energy, deep and comprehensive art background, and love of the creative process are infectious ... [Because] Elaine advises students during each step of the process, she ensures the best possible outcome for each student. Failure or quitting are not options."

Dillingham considers herself an artist first, and teaching an art. The visual arts are different from other academic disciplines. They're very personal, revealing of self and profound, she said.

A good art teacher steers excellence on one hand, but nurtures people where they are on the other. She added that art is a combination of technique and creativity, and a student must have both, which holds true for teaching as well.

Drawing is the foundation of visual arts, Dillingham said.

"To draw it, you have to know it, and to know it, you have to see it," Dillingham added. Art is the development of the ability to see.

As for her technique, Dillingham said she runs a tight ship. She expects students to be there, be on time, and she will provide the clear goals and high standards for the students balanced with compassion and flexibility.

Most importantly, she loves people -- the highs and the lows: no matter how accomplished an artist might be, he or she will have no hope of being an effective teacher without loving people.

At CCC, Dillingham has taught Drawing I & II, Life Drawing, Oil & Acrylic Painting, Art Appreciation and Draw Then Paint. Her professional experience as an artist extends back 20 years.

She received her bachelor's degree in visual arts from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn. in 1972.


Monday, 24th August 2015

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  • Monday, 24th August 2015