Crystal Apple: Amanda Kerker serves as leader for students, colleagues

By CALLIE JONES | | Sterling Journal-Advocate
April 29, 2023 at 6:30 a.m.

May 1, 2023
Amanda Kerker, business professor at Northeastern Junior College, devotes her time to helping students and staff be successful. (Callie Jones/Sterling Journal-Advocate)

As a business professor at Northeastern Junior College, Amanda Kerker not only strives to help her students achieve successful careers in business but is also there to lend support to her colleagues too.

“She embodies what it means to be an educator. Amanda constantly strives for excellence in her classes, and her efforts are reflected in her students’ outcomes. Every student that has Amanda’s courses remarks on how effective, fun, and engaging her teaching style is,” said one of her Crystal Apple Award nominators, Brian Lewton.

He goes on to describe her as “THE leader in the Business Department” and in many other roles on campus.

“Her open and friendly personality, humor, and attention to detail truly improve students’ lives and make our community a better place to live,” Lewton said.

Kerker never thought she would be a teacher; she studied business and marketing in school. Then she worked in NJC’s admissions office for four years doing marketing and recruiting and discovered she really enjoyed working with students. That got her thinking about being either a high school counselor or teacher and after one year as a counselor at Fleming School, she decided counseling wasn’t for her.

Instead, she chose to become a teacher and for the past 15 years has served as a business instructor at NJC.

“It was always my goal to get back to working at the college because I really like this level. They don’t have to be here;; it’s a choice,” Kerker said. “I just love working with college students. They are kind of on a unique path, trying to figure out where they want to go and what they want to do with their life and I just feel blessed that I get to be part of that. They change so much in the two years that they’re here, there’s so much growth and it’s really cool to see.”

Another one of her Crystal Apple Award nominators, NJC President Mike White, describes her as “a leader and gifted teacher” and said she helps students learn in so many ways in and out of the classroom.

“I was fortunate to attend the presentations of the capstone project for her business class where teams of students researched and proposed solutions to issues they see on campus. These can include athletic facilities, transportation and support hours. It was clear from the students’ work that they were challenged and came together as teams to think through issues and propose ideas,” White said. “This is the critical thinking that we seek to instill that goes beyond many classroom discussions. This kind of learning prepares our students for higher education and the workforce, and we are delighted to have Amanda as one of our faculty.”

In his award nomination, Sam Soliman pointed out that she has the highest teaching and advising load and has filled in to help with different vacancies.

“She carries such a high workload and does a great job working with students and helping her faculty peers,” Soliman said.

“I just feel like you have to step in where things need to be done and I’ve been around long enough that I feel confident being able to do that,” Kerker said of being willing to help with vacancies. “Our department has grown a lot and it’s all about really serving the students, that’s our number one goal in our department, so if that means I need to take on additional stuff to make it happen then that needs to happen. “

In addition to her role as an instructor, she was also elected to serve as the president of NJC’s Faculty Senate for this year, taking on difficult issues and working with faculty from across the campus to find solutions. Kerker said the work isn’t really too challenging and she looks at it as a privilege to be able to represent faculty and their ideas and concerns. Plus, she says President White and the rest of the administration “are really good to work with, so that makes it a nice collaboration.”

For her though, the best part of the job truly is the students: “getting to know students personally, because then they keep in contact with you once they leave, and you get to see where they end up in life, which is always rewarding. “

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