May 30th, 2024

Lethbridge College instructor named outstanding educator

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on May 1, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

A Lethbridge College technician-instructor has received an Outstanding Educator Award that has sparked the praise of over a hundred alumni from the various programs he has been involved with.
Jim Pinches recently received the ASET Outstanding Educator Award from the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals of Alberta for demonstrating excellence in teaching, educational innovation and commitment to the advancement of knowledge and technological studies.
Pinches says the award came as a heart-warming surprise, especially after receiving praise from so many alumni.
Pinches has interacted with thousands of students in his 20 years at Lethbridge College as he takes part in all three engineering programs.
“I am a field lab instructor for three programs in charge of the equipment room. I take students outside, teach them how to run the survey equipment, carry out various field exercises, understand the calculations and bring the theoretical concepts to life,” said Pinches.
Students in the Civil Engineering Technology, Engineering Design Technology and the previously offered Geomatics Engineering Technology programs take part in survey courses, giving Pinches the opportunity to interact with hundreds of students on a yearly basis.
Pinches said it was one of the alumni from the Engineering Technology department, a member of ASET, who nominated him for the award.
“Wade Weaver, he was past president of ASET he asked me if he could nominate me and I said, sure go ahead,” said Pinches.
 He said days went by and he started to wonder if he needed to ask other members for reference letters or any other information.
 “I didn’t realize that was occurring already. And then out of a sudden I was notified that I have won,” said Pinches.
 He said once he was notified, he found out that the response was overwhelming, that many of his former students have sent reference letters with high praise, so many in fact, that it put his name at the top of the list thanks to them.
According to the website ratemyprofessor.com, Pinches has a five-star rating from dozens of people leaving reviews dating back to 2012. The most common words used to describe Pinches within the rating include “hilarious,” “gives good feedback,” “inspirational,” “respected” and “caring.”
Once the news broke on social media about Pinches’ award, the post reached more than 50 reactions in less than an hour from alumni and colleagues alike. After a couple of days the post had acquired over 150 reactions and multiple comments, with “well deserved” being among almost every comment.
Pinches said during the ceremony while announcing the award, he was surprised by the kind words shared about him.
“I remember some of the comments, one alumnus said how he always remembered I was out there with him whether was plus 30 or minus 30 (degrees), he said I still remember things that Jim said or did for me. When I got up there, I jokingly said oh hey I want a copy of that too, I almost teared up at the back,” said Pinches.
When asked about the impact he has had on his students, he said he has never truly thought about that, so it was heartwarming to hear some of the comments made by them about it.
Pinches said the interaction with the students is something that keeps him coming back to teach after 20 years.
“The energy and interaction with the students because it’s always for the most part enjoyable, and then there’s always that challenge of cracking the nut, you say something and 90 per cent of them catch it right away but there is always that 10 per cent that make you find another way to explain it,” said Pinches.
 He said when the students in that 10 per cent understand the concept that brings him immense joy.  
Pinches is also recognized by his peers and colleagues for his outstanding teaching career and the many lives he has touched.
Edith Olson, chair of the Engineering Technologies department, told The herald she believes Pinches is more than deserving of the award.
“We are thrilled and it’s well deserved in Jim’s part because he is exemplary member of the team, the students love him, he’s very knowledgeable, not just with the theoretical aspects but the practical aspects as well,” said Olson.
 She added that he brings energy to the department, passion, commitment, dedication and his years of experience both from academics and industry proves that he knows what he is talking about when he is teaching the students.
 “The fact that ASET has acknowledged him with this award against probably very stiff competition from a number of other institutions, speaks very highly of the quality of the education the students will receive here at Lethbridge college,” said Olson.

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