Dr. A.J. Neumann Puts Dr. Bob Teaching Excellence Award to Work

Dr. A.J. Neumann, instructor of residential construction at Delta College, put his Dr. Bob Teaching Excellence Award to work when he enrolled in a train-the-trainer program at JLG University in McConnellsburg, PA. In addition to 32 hours of online coursework, Dr. Neumann traveled to the campus to get an additional 30 hours of hands-on training in construction equipment. He then brought back that knowledge to his Delta College students. As he said, “I feel very confident in my ability to teach Delta students the basics of running these machines and issuing a nationally recognized certification to completers. This certification will make these students much safer and will likely improve their employability status and improve their wage garnering ability.”

A.J. started his career as a carpenter apprentice and soon realized that job security was closely linked with professional training and certificates. Always an avid learner, A.J. earned his bachelor’s while working full time and then went on to complete a master’s in education. His decision to enroll in the doctoral program in post-secondary administration from Central Michigan University grew out of his experience serving on a state-wide committee charged with developing construction curriculum. A.J. observed, “The completion of my degree made me aware of how technical education is a subject that is gravely misunderstood as where the non-college capable kids go. This was very disheartening to me, but also very motivational and I was the only male to complete the dissertation process and receive my degree in my cohort.” Earning  his doctorate along with his vast experience in the construction field afforded A.J. the opportunity to exert his influence on key curricular decisions and policies for construction education in Michigan. Along with his degrees, A.J. has earned certifications to train students in OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) protocols, first aid, AED (automated external defibrillator) use, and SkyTrak (hydraulic and electrical system) operation.

In addition to his more than 20 years teaching at Delta College, A.J. has served as an advisor on the Associated General Contractors Workforce Development Committee, was one of 25 Michigan educators chosen to serve on the inaugural Michigan Teacher Leadership Advisory Council, and served as the Council’s sole representative for Career and Technical Education.

As a teacher, A.J. leads by example. His classes are typically off site, where students do the actual work involved in construction. In his hands-on classroom, A.J. provides continuous informal assessment and guidance that encourage students to finish what they start and to do the job well. A.J. describes himself as an “instructor, mentor, friend,” to his students who understands their experiences as a former student in Delta’s residential construction program and professional with a long tenure in the industry.

The recent pandemic has brought with it many challenges for those in construction.  A.J.’s counseling skills and extensive knowledge of the field provide students with sound strategies and practical ideas for handling the stress that’s part of a construction worker’s life.  As A.J. noted, “Construction workers have a very high rate of suicide and students need to be aware of the pitfalls such as stress, drugs, alcohol and the negative connotations which often come with being a ‘construction worker.'”

Although Dr. Bob chose to study the human mind, pursuing degrees in psychology, he never gave up his early roots in construction and carpentry, as his many house projects revealed. In addition, he and A.J. shared a similar commitment to teaching and improving the lives of their students. There’s no doubt Dr. Bob would be gratified by Dr. A.J. Neumann’s impressive use of his teaching excellence award.

Ultimately, I love my job, which makes all of the extracurricular activities I pursue a pleasure not a chore. Students see my genuine enthusiasm and hopefully it conveys a beacon of hope that they can find a job that is although often very physically demanding, can be satisfying and rewarding. The other goal is to have my students graduate and pursue additional education to become lifelong learners as I have.

-Dr. A.J. Neumann

AY 2020-21 Dr. Bob Scholarships

We received the thank you letters from the Dr. Bob Scholarship recipients a little late this year due to the pandemic, but they were worth the wait and a wonderful birthday present for me. As you’ll read in these excerpts, the students are so like the ones my dad was dedicated to nurturing in his time at Delta College. The first is from a social work major:

Winning this scholarship made me extremely excited and humbled! The funds that I will receive will be helpful towards aiding me in my education to complete my career goals. Furthermore, choosing to attend Delta college as a social work major has given me new hope, especially giving me the knowledge to add value to women and youth. . . . Being enrolled in school has risen my confidence and influenced my children to see a positive impact on our lives.

This nontraditional student has decided to major in counseling:

Your gift brightened my day and it will help brighten my future! . . . I decided it was time to go back to school so I can help support my family and change the trajectory of our lives. . . . After speaking with an academic advisor, I decided to pursue a degree in counseling. I am hoping to help other people navigate life by making the best decisions possible. Your financial gift is helping to make that dream a reality.

The last note is from student majoring in applied science with an emphasis in surgical technology:

I plan to pursue a career as a certified surgical technologist and will also be working on my sterile processing certificate. . . . Thanks to  you, I am one step closer to my ultimate goal. . . . You are a real role model to me and many others, and I thank  you! I  hope that I can give back one day to help young students, the same way you have helped me!

These students, who are committed to their studies and their communities, remind Ted and me of why my dad loved teaching at Delta College. The Dr. Bob Scholarship is part of his legacy at Delta College, along with the thousands of students whose lives are that much richer from taking his classes.

2020 Dr. Bob Endowed Teaching Chair Award

Two years ago the Delta College Foundation Board of Trustees officially recognized the Dr. Robert R. “Dr. Bob” Zimmermann Endowed Teaching Chair Award that Ted and I established. Imagine our excitement when we found out this week that the 2020 award was given to Andrew “AJ” Neumann, Instructor of Residential Construction, for his project “Residential Construction Equipment Training.” AJ will use the funds to become certified as a Telehandler and Mobile Elevating Work Platform Trainer. Congratulations to AJ! My dad would be thrilled. As an undergraduate, he worked as a carpenter on home construction in the summers. He put those skills to work on many home projects and always had some sort of carpentry work to do around the house. Ted and I look forward to the many professional development ventures my dad’s award will fund in the future.

Fall 2019 Scholarship Thank Yous

Four of the 574 scholarships Delta College awarded for Fall 2019 went to students who qualified for the Dr. Bob award. Ted and I recently received the thoughtful thank you notes from the students, who each received $1000. Not a large amount, but enough to make going to Delta a little easier. Here’s what the students had to say.

I would like to express my gratitude for offering me the Dr. Robert R. Zimmermann “Dr. Bob” Scholarship. I am going to be doing my general studies at Delta. I have always loved animals and hope some day to work in the animal rehabilitation field.

 

I am currently working my degree in applied science. After graduation, I plan to follow my dreams of being an OB nurse, working with pregnant women and newborns. . . . Your generosity  will help be get one step closer to achieving my goals in life.

 

I am pursuing a career in the health care field. . . . I will  put this scholarship money to use by furthering my education at Delta College. I can’t thank you enough for opening your hearts to people whom you have never met. I too would love to one day help others. . . . You are the  real role models.

 

I plan to pursue a career as an early childhood educator and I will be finishing my course work at Delta College and then transfer to Ferris State University. Thanks to you, I am one step closer to my ultimate goal. . . . Again, my thanks to you for your trust and consideration of my academic abilities.

We are grateful for the opportunity to help out these students and look forward to their fantastic achievements in the future.