PENDLETON --- Marianne Yohannan, biology instructor for Tri-County Technical College's science department, was honored May 8 with the highest award presented to the faculty.  She received the Presidential Medallion for Instructional Excellence at the College's spring commencement.

            Dr. Ronnie L. Booth, president, presented the medallion to the Anderson resident.  The medallion is presented each year to the instructor who has contributed the most during the academic year to the profession of teaching, to the development of the College and to the students.

In her nomination, colleagues praised her commitment to providing students with a positive educational experience through her teaching and advising duties, as well as her involvement with the various college initiatives devoted to student learning and success.

In her nine years of teaching in the Arts and Sciences Division, Yohannan has made student learning and achievement a priority through her commitment to student success and accessibility to students both in and out of the classroom. In addition to her biology classes, she has played a significant role in the Learning Excellence Initiative which focuses on the first-year student experience. 

Part of this initiative involves the creation of linked learning communities and the Freshman Seminar class.  Yohannan was one of the faculty members who provided input into the development of the course and participated in training to facilitate this course.  She had led at least one section of the course each fall semester from 2007 - 2011.

            "These actions illustrate Marianne's commitment to student success by meeting the challenge not only of teaching a course that is focused entirely on helping students transition smoothly into higher education, but of managing the coordination of content delivery with the colleagues teaching the linked courses in the learning community," said Dr. Amoena Norcross, Title III activity director, in her nomination letter.       

Dr. Norcross added that this experience gives instructors a better understanding of the challenges facing freshmen and of the college resources available to students.  "Marianne has transferred the pedagogical methods acquired from teaching the Freshman Seminar class to her biology classes and emphasizes co-curricular activities (such as the tutoring center) to her biology students. Marianne is a model faculty member who develops herself professionally and personally and applies her developed skills to her discipline, another clear example of her focus on students and student learning," said Dr. Norcross

"I am passionate about both student retention and student engagement in the classroom," said Yohannan.  "The student success philosophy focuses on students' needs, and they are all different.  My job is to assess where they are academically and determine how I can vary my teaching techniques to meet individual needs.  I feel that by having a positive and caring attitude, it makes a world of difference to the students and the entire college," she said. 

"I interact with students on a daily basis in the classroom and in my office.  Each day I see the many factors that affect a student's success.  For those factors that students have control over, I do my best to offer guidance and support to help them reach their goals," said Yohannan.

            In her Biology and Freshman Seminar classes, often students need help with understanding the materials and she began incorporating active learning into classes when she started working with learning communities.  "It keeps them engaged.  I'm not doing all of the talking. I'm more of a facilitator."

            As an instructor, Yohannan puts herself back in the student's shoes. "For students to feel overwhelmed is normal -- it's a big transition to the college lifestyle.  I tell my students don't be afraid to get help and to take advantage of the resources.  I recommend tutoring services and career service counseling if needed.  They need encouragement.  Gaining confidence is part of their success," she said.

            Prior to joining Tri-County in 2006, Yohannan was a Summer Teaching Program instructor for the Guangdong Teachers College of Foreign Language and Arts in Guangzhou, China, and worked as a researcher at MUSC for five years.

            She graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Biology from Erskine College.  She earned an M.S. in Biological Sciences in 2004 from the Medical University of South Carolina. 

            She received the Summer Training Program Teaching Award in 2004 and received the Second Place Master's Graduate Student Oral Presentation award at MUSC's Student Research Day in 2003 and the year before received the Second Place Master's Graduate Student Poster Presentation award.  In 2001 she received the Graduate Student Poster Presentation award at the MUSC Hollings Cancer Center First Annual Research Retreat.

Yohannan and her husband, Jayamon, live in Anderson.  They have two children.