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Evelyn Ward – not your everyday educator

  • Written by 
Evelyn Ward – not your everyday educator

More than likely when you think of educators, you think of a teacher in front of the classroom lecturing hour after hour.  That is the norm or stereotype that those in education have come to accept.  Technology and progression have much improved education through the years, but most assuredly over the last decade.  This week the TIMES teacher feature or in this case, educational feature recognizes the hard work and dedication of Evelyn Ward.    

Ward has been employed with Chipola College since 1996 and is now Director of Fine Arts at Chipola.  Ward graduated from Chipola College, from the University of West Florida with her B.A. degree and earned her M.S. at Florida State University.  

Recently Rachel Berbert, a student at Chipola enrolled in a leadership class taught by Dr. Dale O’Daniel had an assignment to complete a journal on one of the community leaders. Berbert works part time in the Fine Arts Department as a box office assistant.  Berbert said that her supervisor Evelyn Ward immediately came to mind.  Berbert submitted the question, “What are your goals for the Fine Arts Department, and as a leader, how will you achieve those goals?”  Berbert said Ward’s answer that question came from a personal standpoint and was three-fold in her answer but further solidified Berbert’s choice of an outstanding leader.  

Ward responded, “I’m going to answer your question from a personal standpoint of what my goals are as the leader of the Fine Arts Department.”

Below is Ward’s three-fold response:

“Three goals: Students, Staff, and Community.

My first goal is students.  I want to increase the number of students we have in the programs (Art, Music and Theatre) and make sure they are receiving the coursework and the caliber of training that they need to succeed at the next level. I want them to succeed whether they decide to transfer to a university or if they decide to leave Chipola and go straight into the workforce.  I want all students to have the opportunity to participate, make lasting relationships with other students and staff, and to enjoy their experience at Chipola as much as I did as a student.  

How I plan to do it.  As a department we recruit students.  We recruit locally and regionally. I encourage and schedule as many opportunities for us to recruit as possible.  I also schedule as many public performances, especially in schools, as I can to use our greatest tool – our students performing.  I have conversations with other universities to find out if our students are prepared or how we can better prepare them for the university programs.  I constantly encourage our Fine Arts students to “crossover”.  I encourage theatre students to take music classes.  I encourage music students to join Show Choir or audition for the theatre musical.  I encourage music and art students to take theatre tech classes.  I also plan to offer several social events this year where all of the Fine Arts majors can come together and get to know each other and to build those lasting relationships.

My second goal is staff.  I want my staff to enjoy working in our department.  They may not enjoy every task they are given.  I certainly don’t enjoy all of mine.  But I want them to feel at the end of the day, “I love my job.”  

To achieve this, I support them in every way I can.  I support their work financially as long as funds are available.  I support their need for staff development and training and send them to as many conferences as they can attend.  I support them personally and try to be aware of when they need some extra attention or concern.  I host staff lunches and retreats for them to get to know each other and to get a better idea of what each person does; that way everyone can better appreciate the work that each other does.  I include them in decision making so they feel they are part of the process from beginning to end.

My third goal is community.  While this is third on my list as a manager of people, it is first on the list for the college. Offering cultural development to our community is part of our college mission.  It’s our responsibility to offer opportunities to enjoy music, art and theatre in a community that really has no other avenues for offering this.  My goal is to have a diverse offering of music, art and theatre.  My goal is to have as many events as we can possibly host in the Center for the Arts.  My goal is to have as many children and youth in the community involved in productions on our stage.

I began a June Planning Retreat several years ago.  During this retreat my staff puts together the calendar for the upcoming season.  Everyone brings something to the table for discussion.  It may be a new idea they want to try.  It may be concerns with scheduling from the previous year.  But we talk it out and put together a full slate for the upcoming year.  If goal #1 is met, we have the students to perform.  If goal #2 is met, I have an excited staff that is willing to try new things and to put in the extra effort to make it work.  The end result is meeting goal #3. 

I guess my attitude as the leader of the Fine Arts Department is simple.  ‘Take experts in their individual fields, give them every kind of support you can and let them make you and Chipola College look good.’”

And as only a true leader would do, Ward added a “P.S. We also have a Chipola Christmas show on Thursday December 7 and Friday December 8. The show starts at 7 P.M. We welcome everyone in the community to attend!” not missing a beat to headline her department and the many programs offered through her department.  

Ward’s love of her job is known throughout the community and with those who are fortunate enough to work with her.  Athletic director Jeff Johnson has high praise for Ward, “She is one of a kind for sure.  She loves her department as much as I love baseball.  Those who work with her are fortunate in that she works right along with them, there is no top of the totem pole in her department. I am pretty sure there is a long line of potential employees waiting for a position or a chance to work for Evelyn.”  

Karan Davis, Associate Vice-President of Human Resources at Chipola has nothing but glowing remarks for Ward, “She is so efficient and creative.  She used to do all the stats for basketball and the state tournament when she worked in public relations.  She was in charge of the Endless Summer event, and fundraisers, especially those for the foundation.  She did all of the college’s publications, the brochures, all the graphics for them.  She is now of course, director of the Fine Arts Department, and is doing a fantastic job.  Chipola is very fortunate to have her in our corner.”

Chipola President, Dr. Sarah Clemmons said of Ward, “Mrs. Evelyn Ward is a Chipola graduate who has been employed at Chipola since 1996.  Her first job was as Publications Coordinator in the Public Relations office.  She is talented in graphic arts.  She currently serves as Director of Fine Arts.  In her role, she is passionate about recruiting students from our area for her programs and hosts many events for the local schools and communities.  She is truly an asset for Chipola College and serves as an administrator on the Deans Staff.”

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