September 22, 2020

BY SARA HANAFI
It’s time for students to recognize outstanding work by their teachers.
The Aubrey Hagar Distinguished Teaching Award (AHA) is given to a faculty member who has made an outstanding contribution to the teaching and learning process at Conestoga.
Candidates for the award must be nominated by a minimum of four people, including two current or former students and one full-time faculty member. Support staff and administrators can also be nominated.
Ignac Kolenko, the current chair of engineering and IT and a teacher at Conestoga since 2003, was the recipient of the 2011 award.
“I was faculty in software engineering technology at the time,” he said. “My reaction was of total shock. It turns out my students and co-faculty had nominated me a couple of times prior to my 2011 award, and I wasn’t successful. When I learned I was nominated again in 2011, I figured, ‘more of the same,’ so I was very surprised to learn that I had been selected as the winner of this prestigious award.”
AHA winners receive $800 in professional development funds, a framed Conestoga College coat of arms and a specially designed gold liripipe to wear for the award presentation, which is done during the June convocation each year.
“The Aubrey Hagar award winner is recognized in front of all the graduating students,” Kolenko said. “My fellow faculty actually ended up videotaping the speech I made and posted it on YouTube.”
Award winners are notified prior to the ceremony. Kolenko said his reaction to the good news was mainly due to the manner in which he found out.
“My chair at the time, Mitch Wawzonek, called me into his office to discuss a problem in an applied research project I was working on,” Kolenko said. “Once I arrived, I found not only Mitch, but members of the Aubrey Hagar committee present as well. Of course, it was all a ruse. Mitch cracked a big smile and indicated I had won the award. Total shock, but immediate elation that, ‘hey, I did it!’”
Winners are also invited to join the selection committee for two years to help choose nominees for the next year.
Melanie Sullivan, the organization development officer at Conestoga, said she encourages people to nominate teachers.
“Nominations for this award are being accepted until March 15,” she said.
Students are encouraged to nominate a faculty member who best exemplifies teaching excellence by going above and beyond the normal call of teaching.
“Teachers who are willing to assist no matter how early or late in the day, who support students through thick and thin, who go out of their way to speak with industry members about the programs they teach in, and so forth,” Kolenko said.
A nomination package is required to be submitted by the deadline, which can be downloaded from the school’s website. It asks for things like testimonials from students, industry representatives and fellow faculty.
“These packages are a lot of work to organize, but the fact that these are done yearly is a testament of how much the student and faculty admire the nominee,” Kolenko said.
To nominate a teacher or other faculty member that fits the criteria for the award, download the nomination package at www.conestogac.on.ca/facultystaff/profdevelopment/nominationform.pdf.
Ignac Kolenko’s acceptance speech can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWPxJUwMyNU.