After four years as a Hagerstown Jr.-Sr. High School teacher, Christy Herr says a recent award ceremony reinforced her view that “there is so much good going on in education.”
Herr received the statewide Excellence in Dual Credit Instruction President’s Award, the highest honor for Ivy Tech Community College’s dual credit faculty.
The college honored winners from its 19 campuses for their excellence in instruction and positive impact on the dual credit students they served during the 2022-23 academic year. From the campus winners, the college selected Dr. Herr as the statewide recipient.
Herr teaches chemistry and ag classes at HJSHS. She switched careers after working 27 years as a veterinarian. She teaches for dual credits in all of her subjects — Chemistry 101, Animal Science, Soil Science and Plant Science — meaning that students can receive high school and Ivy Tech college credit.
“Ivy Tech has expectations that the (dual credit) class has to be more rigorous,” she said. “My mission is to tolerate very little late work and the penalties for it are more severe. In addition, in chemistry, the final took several hours to complete rather than just an hour” for the high school final exam.
Melissa Kircher Smith, K-14 Initiatives director, and Allison Steele, agriculture program chair, both of Ivy Tech’s Richmond campus, nominated Herr for the award.
“Dr. Herr’s natural passion for encouraging students to appreciate the learning process, combined with her ability to tap into her own education and experience as a veterinarian, make her Agriculture and Chemistry dual credit classes rigorous, yet enjoyable. It’s not unusual to find students checking the garden, performing an experiment, or dancing in the classroom during a visit!” wrote Kircher Smith.
Individual campus winners were announced during a June 14 ceremony at Franklin. John Thompson, chemistry teacher at New Castle High School, was among the honorees.
Herr said, “They read a little about each recipient. It’s just amazing the stuff they did. The amount of talent in that room was inspiring. I came away inspired for the world of education. There’s so much promise in the world of education.”
“I struggle with the recognition. There are so many teachers doing the same thing.”
Now preparing for her fifth year at HJSHS, she said, “Our school corporation is so blessed with quality educators who are committed and so passionate, trying new things, connected to the students. Our kids are so lucky to be exposed to these educators.”
“Dual credit programming taught by credentialed high school faculty is of tremendous value to our students and our state,” Ivy Tech President Sue Ellspermann said in a news release. “By helping students earn postsecondary credentials while in high school, we’re accelerating Indiana’s economic growth and Hoosier prosperity.”
Although she enjoyed her career as a veterinarian, Herr is happy with her decision to become a teacher. “I don’t have any regrets at all. It is a great blessing to have found two rewarding careers in the same community.”
A version of this article appeared in the July 26 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.