Deitz and Thomas earn SWIC Faculty Member of the Year Awards

5/5/2017 3:49:47 PM

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A love of teaching, expertise in their subject matter and attention to students’ needs are what made Jean Deitz and Helen Thomas the obvious choices for the Southwestern Illinois College full- and part-time faculty members of the year awards, respectively.

Deitz, the Medical Laboratory Technology program coordinator, began teaching Medical Assistant courses in 1990, then expanded to teaching MLT courses in 1993. She has served as MLT coordinator since 1998.

“Students come to class knowing that I will treat them with respect, that I will help them equally, whether they are my strongest or my weakest student,” Deitz said.

In addition to serving as program coordinator, Deitz also teaches Introduction to the Clinical Laboratory, Coagulation, Microbiology, Clinical Microscopy classes; and oversees two MLT clinical courses and a Phlebotomy Certificate clinical course.

On her own time, she picks up pathology specimens from local hospitals so her students have real-life specimens to work with in the labs. Also, Deitz has developed instructional videos in which she demonstrates procedures so students can watch and learn before hands-on practice in the lab.  

Graduate Leslie Miller of Troy said: “I have been to three different colleges and no other teacher was ever more caring about her students or more passionate about her program. I wish I could have her for the rest of my education.”

Deitz earned Associate in Arts and Science degrees from Belleville Area College, a Bachelor of Science in Biology with Medical Technology and a Master of Science in Education, both from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and a Master of Arts in Education from Lindenwood University.

She and her husband, Rob, live in Belleville. They have two children, Nicole and Daniel; three grandsons; and one granddaughter on the way.

Thomas is known among her students for making computer programming fun.

She began her career at SWIC as a student worker in 1998 and worked at several different positions at the college before landing her current role in 2006 as an adjunct faculty member in the Business Division teaching Computer Information Systems courses.

“I try to make learning fun by being enthusiastic and happy to be there!” Thomas said. “Sometimes I will have students shout out ideas for a program and we as a class choose one of the ideas and build a program around it. They really seem to enjoy that activity.”

Thomas currently teaches Java Programming I, Web Site Development - PHP, Visual Basic Programming II, Python and Introduction to Information Technology courses.  

In addition, she makes herself available to tutor students before and after class and frequently attends faculty development workshops to stay up-to-date on technology.

 “Helen Thomas represents the finest traditions of the community college education,” said Graphic Communications and Web Coordinator Nikki Hensley. “She takes students as they are and helps them get were they want to be.”

Thomas earned Associate in Arts and Science degrees from SWIC; a Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems, a Master of Science in Management Information Systems and a Master of Science in Business Administration, all from SIUE.

 She and her husband, Eddie, live in Granite City. They have two daughters, Linda McMillan and Nicole Thomas-Hobbs, and five grandchildren.

Deitz and Thomas are also nominated by the college for the Illinois Community College Trustee Association’s Outstanding Full-time and Part-time Faculty Member of the Year honors. Winners will be announced in June.

For more information about the Medical Laboratory Technology and Computer Information Systems programs, visit