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Amy Powers, Associate Professor of History, is a passionate historian and professor who has taught thousands of students during her more than 14 years at Waubonsee Community College. For her commitment to the profession, scholarly pursuits, the college and her students, Powers is honored as the college’s 2017 Outstanding Faculty Member.

Waubonsee’s Powers Named 2017 Outstanding Faculty Member

Portrait of Dr. Powers
Dr. Amy Powers

Amy Powers, Associate Professor of History, is a passionate historian and professor who has taught thousands of students during her more than 14 years at Waubonsee Community College. For her commitment to the profession, scholarly pursuits, the college and her students, Powers is honored as the college’s 2017 Outstanding Faculty Member.

Powers has worked as a full-time history professor at Waubonsee since 2003. In that time, she has taught about 8,000 students in nine different courses.

“This breadth of teaching experience has allowed me to offer my students a rich narrative of our world’s history that provides them with an understanding of how their lives have been shaped by those who have come before them,” she said.

Her love of history can be traced back to her own childhood. Powers recalls a vacation her parents took her on when she was 4 years old, visiting historical sites along the East Coast.

“I have a fond memory of playing with my father on battlefields and climbing the cannons at the Yorktown National Historic Park in Virginia,” she said. “During that same trip, we visited Monticello and Jamestown, where I remember watching glassblowers form colorful vases.”

Powers was also inspired early on by a history teacher in her Pennsylvania high school, Larry Kessler.

“A talented storyteller, he inspired students with fascinating and often humorous tales from the past, always encouraging us to make connections between historical events and the present,” she said. “I also appreciated that he incorporated novels, poems and other cultural artifacts into his lessons.  I try to do the same in my classes.”

One tradition in Powers’ classroom has remained consistent over 14 years. On the first day of any class she teaches, Powers tells her students that she has two goals: familiarize them with the historical narrative of the time and place they are studying, and teach them how historians conduct their research and draw conclusions about past events. In addition, she strives to help students improve their communication skills.

When Powers was first hired at Waubonsee, she was assigned to teach the History of the Middle East, which at the time was a brand-new class at the college.

“I was unsure of how students would respond to the class and wondered how many would register for it, but I was pleasantly surprised to have a completely full roster of engaged students,” she said. “The war in Iraq, combined with the Middle East's vital role in the realm of geopolitics, seemed to convince many students that they needed to learn more about the region and its history.”

Powers continues to teach that class every year, and enjoys that it always guarantees a full room of thoughtful and inspiring students.

Ongoing professional development is one way that Powers practices what she preaches to her students. She is a member of several national historical societies and organizations, has participated in the college’s Leadership Academy, and is a regular presenter at conferences in her discipline.

She said she is grateful that Tim Draper, her colleague in the history department, has always encouraged her to embrace challenges and reach new professional heights, including his support in applying for the "Bridging Cultures: American History, Atlantic and Pacific" program, a collaborative initiative of the American Historical Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  

“Our experience in this program has not only made me a better historian, but it has also made me a more effective teacher who can redesign courses to better fit our students educational needs,” Powers said.

Powers also contributes to the college in many ways beyond her teaching commitments: she serves as co-advisor to the college’s History Club, serves on more than 17 different committees, and is the Outcomes Faculty Liaison, where she has served on the Outcomes Advisory Council. She is also currently serving a three-year term on the American Association of Community Colleges Faculty Advisory Council.

Powers said she is honored to receive the Outstanding Faculty recognition.

“Not only have I loved teaching for these past 14 years, but I have also enjoyed being part of the wider college community,” she said. “My experience serving on committees, working as faculty advisor to student clubs, and most recently serving as the Outcomes Liaison, has given me an opportunity to work with talented people from all parts of campus.”

Outside of history and teaching, Powers said she also enjoys gardening and reading, spending time with family and being a mother.

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