Mathematics and Engineering Professor Dr. Mareike Claassen has been named the 2017 Fullerton College Teacher of the Year. News of the award was shared with Claassen during a surprise visit to her classroom in March after she received several nominations from current and former students praising her teaching techniques and encouragement of female students to pursue engineering and STEM degrees.
The campus community honored Claassen during a Teacher of the Year reception on April 25 in the Student Center with nine additional Teacher of the Year finalists. The other finalists were: Amber Gonzalez, Aline Gregorio, Delmas Bruce Magee, Michael Mangan, Mary Nolan-Riegle, Kristy Richardson, Sheilah Stokes Dobyns, Tamara Trujillo and Ryan Shiroma.
Claassen’s nominations included countless recognition for her positive attitude, patience and understanding with teaching complex subjects, and being a role model for women pursuing STEM degrees. One female student said Claassen helped shape her desire for engineering and affirmed her choice to be in the STEM field. Another student credited Claassen for encouraging students to form the Engineering & Technology Club at Fullerton College and mentoring students through the process.
“I believe her passion for engineering and science is seen through her teachings, and I can easily say that taking her classes prepared me for my transfer to Cal Poly Pomona,” one nominator stated. Another former student wrote, “Professor Claassen was always available to give us extra guidance either through emails or office hours. She encouraged all her students to attend different STEM activities on campus in order to further stimulate our young engineering minds.”
All the nominations highlighted Claassen’s positive attitude and visibly strong passion for the subjects she teaches. Her teaching career spans more than 20 years, 16 of which have been at Fullerton College.
Claassen’s teaching philosophy centers on the concept of flexibility. “Teaching is a juggling game that requires constant adaptation with the goal of optimizing the best outcome for the greatest number of students,” she said. She acknowledges her differential approach to teaching students in basic skills math courses versus students taking advanced classes, and said she thrives on interacting with individual students during office hours to help them understand concepts.
“When I work in the Math Lab as a faculty tutor, I enjoy the challenge of having to discover quickly where a student is stuck and to lead them to understanding at their individual pace,” she said.
She is patient with meeting each student’s need and exhibits a passion for enhancing student success. She has taught nine different math courses and four engineering courses since arriving at Fullerton College in 2001.
In addition to classroom instruction, Claassen currently chairs the STEM, CTE, and Engineering Scholarship Committees and serves as a member on the Fullerton College Foundation Board. Outside of FC, she is a community college representative on the California Engineering Liaison Council and the Joint Engineering Program.