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New ‘Instructor of the Year’
Photos and Story by James Hill
The Oregon Business Educators Association has handed Portland Community College instructor Andrea Pace its Post-Secondary Teacher of the Year Award.
Pace, a computer application and office systems instructor at the Rock Creek Campus, was recognized for her involvement in business education for the past 40 years. During this time she has taught a variety of business courses beginning with shorthand and advancing through computers to teaching Office 2007 and Vista.
"I was very humbled, honored and thrilled to receive this distinguished award from our professional organization for the state of Oregon," Pace said.
She is the community college representative for the association and has attended numerous conferences for each of many other organizations, including traveling to Ireland last summer. In addition, she has developed extensive curriculum for PCC, such as the entire curriculum for the legal secretary program. She also set up the co-op work sites for students so they could get real-world experience and honed the curriculum for the basic computer skills course.
Pace began her teaching career in 1968 and started at PCC teaching business classes in 1973. A few years later, she created new curriculum for the school’s legal secretary program, incorporating local cases, rules and pleadings. These courses included legal procedures, legal transcription, legal careers, legal terminology and legal shorthand. To develop curriculum that would be useful to students, Pace visited many of Portland’s law firms and joined their local, state and national professional organizations. A tough road, considering Pace had minimal experience in the legal arena.
"I had to learn law," Pace said. "There are nine to 10 areas of law I was responsible for teaching terminology, procedures and legal format, so I had to take classes at night and the weekends. My counterpart at the time at Mount Hood Community College was the only other person doing the same thing as I was in the entire state. I needed to learn what the students had to know in order to work in a law firm that did everything. I worked six days a week for years. I was it."
Plus, Pace was the only person who could advise the legal students each term, revise the curriculum every year (because the areas of law make procedural and/or format changes frequently), taught the core classes, and worked with their cooperative education placement and evaluation on the job.
"It was extremely rewarding to see them as competent, confident and successful legal secretaries and administrative assistants at the end of their associate of applied science degree program," she added. "That is what made it worthwhile."
In its heyday, the legal secretary program had full classes and was at the forefront of innovation thanks to Pace’s endless thirst to develop how classes were structured. For instance, she took students out on field trips to local law firms to see how they worked and encouraged students to ask questions of the partners. She also had them organize a legal panel where students were in charge of inviting local attorneys, legal assistants and legal secretaries to come to class and answer their questions about legal careers.
Pace created cooperative education opportunities where students could work in local firms while going to PCC. "It helped them get an idea of what to expect and many were hired as a result after their six months were completed," she said.
Pace has traveled extensively for work and pleasure to places throughout Scandinavia, Micronesia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, China, Australia, New Zealand, England, Argentina and Brazil. She incorporates her experiences into the classroom to help students broaden their global perspective on business. For example, she co-led a study tour of 36 PCC students and staff to Asia in 1990, and established a cooperative education experience in Hong Kong for one of her students.
The legal secretary program was discontinued in 2001 due to the economic downturn. But she moved on to become an instructor in computer applications and office systems, a job she has being doing ever since.
"She brings knowledge, skills, and a student-centered teaching strategy to her classroom," said Cheryl Scott, dean of the Business and Humanities Division at the Rock Creek Campus. "She is adept at dealing with multiple students at varying technical levels and does so in a professional and experienced manner."