Northeast Iowa Community College Alumni Shining Stars: Dental Assisting Faculty

Friday, March 24, 2017

Photo of Dental Assisting faculty and alumni group.The history of Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) is forever connected to its alumni – the graduates who have progressed into their careers successfully, raised families and served their communities, and have helped to honor NICC by sharing the College’s story.

In this spirit, the College is honoring “Alumni Shining Stars” during the year to celebrate these standout individuals who have demonstrated their support for NICC and a commitment to its mission. The March 2017 Alumni Shining Stars are all six of the Dental Assisting faculty at the Peosta campus. All the instructors in the program are alumni who returned to their alma mater to teach generations of students and share their passion for careers in dentistry.

The faculty members and alumni are: Dental Assisting program director Dawn Klostermann (1994); clinical coordinator Tina Adams (1976); and instructors Jayne Anglin (1974), Caitlyn Crawford (2014), Nicole Nuehring (1997) and Nancy Schmidt (1978).

“Since graduating from the program in 1994, I have always wanted to come back to be a teacher. Gloria Kluesner (retired Dental Assisting instructor) and Tina Adams were my role models. Gloria invited me to teach continuing education courses after graduation, which led to my helping in the on-campus clinic at the Peosta campus and then assisting with the new Expanded Function training for dental assistants,” Klostermann recalled. “Finally, I had the opportunity to teach in the classroom, and now I'm so thrilled to be the program director.”

Nancy Schmidt is a clinical instructor for the Dental Assisting program and continues to teach students as part of their externship training. Schmidt also credits Adams and Kluesner for their guidance, leadership and passion for dentistry as influences on her career as an educator.

“Both instructors believed in me and that I could utilize my 30-plus years of practical experience to share with the students,” Schmidt said, who has worked in dental assisting for 38 years with two general practices in the Dubuque area.

Thirty-five years of experience teaching Dental Assisting students has shown Tina Adams that many students who enroll in the program must often overcome anxieties of their own before they are ready for patient care.

“Every year that I have taught I have been touched through the stories of our students at Northeast Iowa Community College. Students come to NICC with many challenges, struggles and hardships. When they achieve their goals, realize this is their chosen field and get that first real job in dentistry, I know I helped them do that; I cannot fully explain the joy I feel,” Adams expressed. “Success; there is nothing better as a teacher than to see your student succeed.”

Caitlyn Crawford, a new instructor, shared one success story in particular that reaffirmed the importance of connecting with students and providing them with the guidance they need to complete the 11-month program.

“One of my students decided to return to the College last fall to complete the Dental Assisting program after dropping out two years ago. I have been working with her one-on-one to increase her competency in her lab and chairside assisting skills. What touched me was, that even after two years, she still remembered most of what she learned as a student in our program,” Crawford said. “We aren't in the field of teaching to isolate and make life difficult, but to help students grow, whether it takes multiple times or different approaches.”

Seeing students become confident in their academic abilities and career goals strengthens Jayne Anglin’s belief in her professional work as a clinical instructor and educator. “The greatest joy for me is to watch a student evolve from quiet, tentative and a little fearful at the beginning of the school year to a self-assured, enthusiastic and skilled dental professional when she is ready to graduate,” she said.

In fact, some of the most rewarding experiences for Dental Assisting students include clinical experiences, or externships, that are off-campus at dental offices, according to instructor Nicole Nuehring.

“When our students are excited that I will be at the College to help them, and they want to come to my office for their externship, that makes me realize that I made an impression on them. Our Dental Assisting program at Northeast Iowa Community College produces awesome dental assistants,” Nuehring stated.

The College’s team of instructors, both at the Peosta campus and off-campus at clinical rotations, are among the very best educators in the field, attests program director Klostermann.

“Our program is noted for being one of the very best in the state, and it is my goal that we maintain as well as elevate our students’ success once they leave the auspices of our program,” Klostermann explains. “We must continue to evolve and change in our educational program because dentistry is changing even more quickly.”

Tags: Alumni Shining Star