National Park College named the recipients of its Outstanding Faculty and Staff awards during the annual Employee Recognition Day earlier this month.
Lindsey Vondenstein was named Outstanding Faculty Member and Tikima Simpkins was named Outstanding Staff Member. Recipients of the awards are nominated and selected by their peers, a news release said.
Simpkins currently is an admissions specialist in the recruitment office. She started at NPC as a student in 2019, served as a student ambassador, a work-study student, and was hired in her current role in August 2021. She graduated from NPC with an Associate of Liberal Arts and is now pursuing her Bachelor of Organizational Leadership at the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith.
Simpkins was described by her nominator as "bubbly, kind, dedicated, welcoming to new staff and students, and a pleasure to be around. They said her go-getting attitude is contagious, she lights up NPC, and is willing to step in and help anyone at any time," the release said.
"I'm going to keep striving to be a better version of myself than I was yesterday and it can only get better," Simpkins said in the release.
Simpkins said she was surprised by the award. "You feel like you don't have an impact on people, but you actually do. So, it's a very rewarding experience. I'm just so proud of myself and just so happy to be a part of this family. I'm just happy to be here. I actually look forward to coming to work. I don't actually see it as work. I see it as another day, hopefully making someone's day better. Just being a part of this family is, once again, rewarding."
Vondenstein is an assistant professor of Education and started at NPC in August 2017. She has 13 years of teaching experience in elementary and middle school. She earned a Master of Science in Educational Technology Leadership from Henderson State University and a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Louisiana Tech University.
Vondenstein has experience developing workshops and professional development for teachers and integrating technology into the classroom.
"The role of the teacher is changing. My passion lies in the challenge of teaching students how to use all of this technology the correct way," Vondenstein said in the release.
"I love NPC. Everyone seems happy and there is so much positive energy. People are invested in helping the school grow. It is an exciting time to be a part of NPC," Vondenstein said.
Peer nominations noted Vondenstein has served as a faculty mentor and adviser for more than 100 Education majors. She meets with them either in person or via Zoom to help them with degree plans, scheduling classes, and transferring. She was described as "very supportive, and encouraging with a positive attitude."
"I am so honored to win this award and to be nominated with other deserving faculty. I am so thankful for my job at NPC and to work alongside my colleagues every day. They encourage me and inspire me and we all work hard to help our students achieve success. It is an honor to help my students on their path to becoming educators and to see them in their own classrooms inspiring their students. I love my job, the people I work with, and the students I teach, and I am blessed that I get to do this job every day," Vondenstein said.