Ginger Ketting has a ritual. It involves purchasing a bag of M&Ms to eat on the plane, every time she flies. Although it is a habit that only travelling companions may have been aware of, it was made public at a recent chapel honoring Ginger Ketting.
On May 20, Ginger Ketting was named Educator of the Year, an award introduced at PUC in 1984 as a means of recognizing excellence in teaching. Selected by a collaborative effort between students and faculty, the award represents quality in teaching and respect among peers.
As is tradition, students, colleagues, and family members gave their own special tributes at the ceremony, but there was one accolade that will most likely be remembered for years to come.
Sandra Balli, associate professor of education, brought a basket of peanut M&Ms to share with the audience, claiming to have found them in Ketting's office. In honor of the Ginger Ketting tradition, yellow bags of M&Ms began whizzing through the air, one even catching Warren Ashworth, professor of religion, on the head.
Candy covered chocolates aside, the ceremony also included a slide show of Ketting's earlier teaching experiences, narrated by her parents, who flew in from Kennewick, Washington for the occasion. Mark Waterhouse, a student, expressed his appreciation of Ketting's devotion to her work and students, thanking her for the long hours she spent advising him.
"My favorite part of the ceremony was Mark's comments," says Ketting. "He was prepared and thoughtful, and I was surprised and touched about the things he had noticed as my student and advisee."
This is Ketting's fifth year at PUC. She recently received her doctorate in education from The Claremont Graduate School. In addition to teaching education classes, Ketting spends extra hours getting to know students through weekend socials and as the faculty sponsor of the Napa Valley Musical Theater group. Establishing a personal connection with students is time consuming, but Ketting feels it is well worth the time.
"The worst I thing I can think of is for someone to be teaching without fostering a friendship and interaction with their students," says Ketting. "Learning happens best when there is a supportive environment where students feel connected to their professors."