News Release

For Immediate Release

Contact: Kim Schmelz, Foundation Director
Phone: 608.822.2379
Mail: 1800 Bronson Blvd., Fennimore, WI 53809
Date of Release: April 7, 2021

Southwest Tech employees recognized for innovation

Fennimore -

Six Southwest Wisconsin Technical College employees were recognized at the Southwest Tech All-Staff Spring In-Service on Thursday, April 1 with the Innovation of the Year award.

The Innovation of the Year award was established by Joan Senn, retired vice president of learning at Southwest Tech. The award was designed to recognize college staff members who have designed and implemented a significant recent innovation and have met the criteria established.

There were three innovative projects developed and implemented by six employees this year who were recognized as the award recipients.

Julie Pluemer, director of precollege programs and service occupations, developed “Homeschool, Charger Style,” a program that was a part of the Charger Cooperative Network. Pluemer worked with Basic Education instructors and Child Care Center staff to coordinate staff who could assist the children of Southwest Tech employees with their school work and with summer projects in a virtual homeschool style environment.

Krista Weber, chief human resources officer and Pluemer’s nominator said, “Homeschool, Charger Style gave our employees’ children some educational structure and sense of ‘normalcy’ during the lockdown. Julie was quick to coordinate these collaborative efforts and come up with creative solutions during a stressful time. We now have an efficient model that can be used in the future should disaster strike again.” Thirty-four children from 18 families were able to benefit from this project.

Tom Kretschman, criminal justice instructor; Dan Imhoff, director of facilities, safety and security; and Brian Kitelinger, safety coordinator, developed the Student Security Program.

The student security program was created to provide learning and leadership opportunities for Southwest Tech’s criminal justice students with the added benefit of providing safety, security, and assistance to the campus community. The group built the program from the ground up to specifically meet the needs of Southwest Tech. “Tom, Dan, and Brian worked to solve a unique need on our campus, stated Ken Bartz, PSC outreach coordinator and lead EMS instructor, and one of the project nominators. “The lack of on-campus security poses a risk to our students and staff; a risk that most colleges solve with certified law enforcement officers. The criminal justice program has been looking at alternative learning opportunities for those students who may not have a direct desire for patrol work and create more opportunities for those students with patrol aspirations a way to gain experience in a more public/assistant role of policing that many of our communities practice. Countless hours went in to prepare our students to take a leadership role in our campus safety by writing policy and creating the training program. We now have a dedicated staff of students with a passion to learn more and give back to our college; with the ability to continually and consistently train new students in the program. The campus community now sends a visible message to everyone that we take safety and service to others very seriously.”

Denise Janssen, administrative assistant, and Lisa Riley, state reporting and curriculum coordinator developed the Curriculum Project Smartsheet. ​They created a smartsheet for the submission of annual curriculum projects.  “The smartsheet is innovative and captures all the data needed for the faculty submitting the curriculum project, as well as the curriculum committee to review,” said Jen Lame, medical coding instructor and HIT program director. “It has saved time on both the faculty completing the curriculum project application as well as the curriculum committee’s time to review these. The smartsheet also serves as a nice tracking method to see which projects have been submitted, approved, and completed.”

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