Centralia College Foundation Awards
Every year, the Centralia College Foundation honors alumni, faculty, and staff who make a difference for Centralia College students.
2020 Distinguished Alumnus
The Centralia College Foundation is honored to announce Jimmy Ritchey as the 2020 Distinguished Alumnus. Ritchey is a country music songwriter and record producer who has worked with some of the biggest superstars in country music over an impressive career spanning over 25 years in Nashville.
Ritchey grew up in a musical family in Centralia. His great-great grandparents had a band and both grandmothers and several uncles were musicians. He began playing in childhood and went on to master the mandolin, acoustic guitar, banjo, bass, fiddle and electric guitar.
In his late teens, he began commuting to Seattle, where he worked as an accompanist for country stars such as Bobby Bare, Ferlin Husky and Del Reeves, when they were touring in the Pacific Northwest. In between these gigs, Ritchey played in local bands and attended classes at Centralia College in 1990-91. It was CC instructor Ken Kimball that drew him to the campus.
“Ken Kimball, my music professor, was a fantastic music theory professor,” Ritchey said. “I apply things I learned from Ken Kimball every day in my profession. He was the number one reason I went to school there."
In 1995, Ritchey moved to Nashville and found almost immediate success. In just 10 years, Ritchey co-wrote four top-10 hits, produced albums for more than 10 artists, played guitar on dozens of recording sessions, and created his own song-publishing company, Vibe Room Music. He has also toured coast-to-coast as a road musician.
Ritchey has won awards from the Broadcast Music, Inc. and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers for his work with both Jake Owen and Kenney Chesney. Read Jimmy's full bio.
2020 Exceptional Faculty Awards
The Centralia College Foundation has selected Georganne Copeland and Emmy Kreilkamp to receive the 2020 Exceptional Faculty Awards. They were chosen for their commitment to and excellence in their subject areas, and participation in campus activities.
Georganne Copeland has experienced Centralia College on both sides of the teaching podium. She was a Centralia College student first and, in 1985, returned to the college as a part-time keyboarding teacher. She was hired by Alice Forth, who became dean of students in 1989; Copeland took Forth’s full-time teaching position at that time. She’s been teaching business technology classes at CC ever since.
Keyboarding remains one of her favorite classes to teach.
“Keyboarding has been a consistent part of my workload and I enjoy helping students develop strong skills that help with their college work, in their personal life, and in the workplace,” she said. “But, I also enjoy teaching Business Communications for those same reasons. Recently, my interaction with the (bachelor’s degree) students has been a highlight. I appreciate their enthusiasm and eagerness to learn.”
Copeland said she enjoys watching students build confidence as they progress through her classes.
“I always knew I wanted to teach, but it took my Centralia College instructors, Alice Forth and Marge Wieland, to show me this path,” she added. “I am grateful to them for opening that door.”
Emmy Kreilkamp came to Centralia College from Chicago after being offered a full-time tenure-track theatre position in the spring of 2016. She said she was attracted to the position because it allowed her to teach theatre, direct plays, and experience all the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
“The Pacific Northwest won me over with its proximity to the coast, mountains, and plentiful hiking and camping areas,” she said. “I am happy to claim this region as my new home.”
Kreilkamp currently teaches all of CC's drama classes from acting to playwriting, and some English classes such as Shakespeare and Screenwriting. She also directs 3 plays a year, is the faculty advisor for the Theatre Club, and oversees the summer theatre program for young people.
“I think teaching Beginning Acting is my favorite,” she said. “Many students take it for a new experience (as it is different from their other classes), which allows me to engage with many different majors and people of diverse interests. I enjoy seeing people transform into characters and use their imaginations in an interactive way.”
She said teaching has been an exceptionally rewarding choice of career and she’s grateful for the opportunity to connect with students.
“Seeing students move from being lukewarm on a topic on the first day of classes to engaged and passionate about the subject matter is the most rewarding part about teaching,” she said. “Regardless where they end up, I hope my students leave my classes with a stronger appreciation for and understanding of the arts.”
2019 Award Winners
Dr. Dan Haskins - Class of 1973
Dr. Dan Haskins made a positive impact through veterinary and humanitarian work in Washington State, Haiti, Brazil, Belarus, Ukraine and Kenya.
He was CEO and President at Northwest Veterinary Group, a member of the Washington State Veterinary Board of Governors, an adjunct professor at Washington State University and the 2005 Washington State Veterinarian of the Year.He helped found MAVANA, which endows independently-managed veterinary practices with the benefits of corporate structure.
His work makes the world a better place.
Dr. Sharon Mitchler
Now in her 21styear as an English and humanities professor at Centralia College, this is Mitchler’s third Exceptional Faculty Award.
“Sharon has clearly exhibited her desire to motivate students to expand their critical thinking and discourse skills in her classroom by her personal example to continue to learn and grow as an instructor,” said Centralia College Foundation Executive Director Christine Fossett.
Mitchler earned her PhD in 2015 specifically so Centralia College students would be included in important research. “Until you have a formal title and a different kind of training, they don’t consider you,” Mitchler said. “I wanted to contribute something to the larger field … and [Centralia College students] have some powerfully different qualities.”
Mitchler is currently involved in a national eight-university study that is redefining the way English 101 and other writing courses are taught. “There’s a whole movement,” she said. “They learn to take a writing situation, figure out what they need to accomplish, who they’re writing to and what structures they need to apply, and then write it.” The curriculum is already yielding exciting results.
Goldberg has been a Running Start counselor at Centralia College for over two decades. She uses her private practice counseling experience and passion for animal-assisted therapy to guide young students.
“Peggy’s dedication to assisting the students and advising them – not only on classes but on their personal readiness and goals – helps them move toward success,” Fossett said.
When Goldberg earned the Exceptional Faculty Award, it came as a complete surprise. “I don’t create amazing big things,” she said, “I just love working with my students. I attempt to find what’s best for them, help them find their path, and I’m here for them when they need me.”
She brings therapy dogs to campus during finals week and gives special class presentations with her dog, Dewey. “Dog night is the most crowded study night for finals in the library,” she said. “The energy changes in a room when a dog walks in. Animals can really help decrease stress and students bond around them. They bring people together.”
Goldberg uses multiple techniques to guide and support her students. One Running Start mother recently wrote and thanked her for seeing each child as an individual and helping them find their own unique path. Goldberg enjoys the process. “I love how their eyes get opened, especially living in a smaller rural community,” she said. “They get exposed to so much at the college, it really expands their world. I love watching that develop.”
Nancy Macy’s positive attitude is a powerful antidote to test anxiety. She has helped calm many nervous students and community members over the years in her role as Centralia College Testing Center Program Assistant. When asked about her philosophy, Macy said, “I want to treat them the way I’d want someone to treat my child.”
Macy recently received the Classified Staff of the Year award in recognition of her noteworthy skills. “What is most striking is [Nancy Macy’s] consistency and commitment to the college,” said Testing Center Program Manager Melissa Hahn. “Her ‘primary’ assignment is to proctor tests, yet most who know or have worked with Nancy are well aware that she goes above and beyond. Our department deals with anxious students who have been scared off from schooling, hesitant community members who are confused about how to begin, high level executives needing certification, and staff and faculty on campus who need the type of support unique to our area. Nancy has a unique and gentle approach to everyone who comes in.”
Macy not only helps students overcome their fears, she also encourages them to push further in their educational advancement. Her consistent encouragement has helped many students successfully accomplish their goals.
Liisa Preslan is a TRiO evangelist. The organization’s mission – to provide support for low-income, first-generation students, and students with disabilities to succeed in higher education – is dear to her heart. She has seen it uplift people and put them on the path to a brighter future – starting with herself.
As a CC student, Preslan connected with TRiO, which expanded her possibilities. She embarked on a TRiO travel abroad studying the transatlantic slave industry at the University of Liverpool. She returned the following summer to intern with a college experience program.
Preslan went on to earn her bachelor’s degree from Washington State University at Vancouver and become a full-time Centralia College employee. She worked in various student service positions but her heart was always in TRiO.
Preslan was recently awarded the SPIRE (Special Presentation in Recognition of Excellence) award. “Liisa is a dedicated employee who is passionate about TRiO and its role in helping Centralia College students be successful which is a major goal of the college,” said Doris S. Wood-Brumsickle. “She is articulate, works well with people, and meets new people effectively. She has served as a keynote speaker for three Dare to Dream events … and was incredibly effective in connecting with these girls in talking about thinking positively, and feeling confident in themselves.”
“It’s an incredible honor,” Preslan said of the award. “I look at all the other people who have received it and think, wow – what an honor.”
CONTACT THE FOUNDATION
Centralia College Foundation
600 Centralia College Blvd
Centralia, WA 98531-4099