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Gainous awarded OTC Instructor of the Year
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Ogeechee Technical College's Rick Perkins Instructor of the Year finalists, left to right, Susan Pope, Matthew Gainous, Jan Martin and Sheryl Rogers wait for OTC president Dawn Carte, to announce the winner of the 2008 Instructor of the Year Award on Monday in the Joseph Kennedy Building on OTC's campus. - photo by Special
   An English instructor at Ogeechee Technical College needed no words to express how he felt about receiving the Rick Perkins Instructor of the Year award — his emotions said it all.
    OTC president Dawn Cartee presented Matthew Gainous with the college’s prestigious award earlier this week in the Joseph Kennedy Building on the Ogeechee Tech campus.
    Gainous was chosen after a lengthy selection process based on student nominations, OTC involvement, community service, awards, and an interview conducted by an external selection committee.
    There were four finalists who were interviewed by the selection committee. In addition to Gainous, radiologic technology instructor Jan Martin, math instructor Susan Pope and accounting instructor Sheryl Rogers were the other finalists in attendance at the awards ceremony.
    In his short but poignant acceptance speech, a teary-eyed Gainous said, “I am so happy to come to work everyday. I feel renewed everyday when I walk into my office here. Each of the ladies here [the other finalists] are fine instructors and some of my best friends. Thank you for making what I do even better.”
    Cartee said she has known Gainous a long time and thinks he is a great representation of the technical college.
    “Matthew is a genuine instructor,” she said. “Teaching is something he pours his heart into. He goes that extra mile. He is always on campus after hours. He is such a great example of what Ogeechee Tech is about,” Cartee said.
    The Rick Perkins Award for Excellence in Technical Instruction honors technical education’s most outstanding instructors for the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG). According to Terry Hand, the award ceremony coordinator and 2007 recipient of OTC’s Instructor of the Year award, the presentation of this award has been an ongoing statewide event since 1991 and is designed to recognize and honor technical college instructors who make significant contributions to technical education through innovation and leadership in their fields. 
    This year, due to a new web-based nomination system, OTC received nearly 700 student nominations — doubling the number of last year’s nominations, said Hand.
    Hand also said that Gainous in particular received 62 student nominations, which were 30 more nominations than any other applicant.
    Liz Hunnicut, a Medical Coding certificate student at OTC was one of the students who nominated Gainous.
    “My husband died last year, and after not being in school for 37 years, Mr. Gainous made my ‘back-to-school’ experience a positive one,” she said. “He conveys the material to you in a way that makes you want to hear what he has to say. He can be serious and make you laugh all in one sentence. He genuinely seems to care about you as an individual. The love and compassion he displayed for his family and his causes were very heartfelt.”
    In addition to being eligible to be chosen as the State Instructor of the Year, Gainous received a $500 award from the Ogeechee Technical College Foundation, a special parking space for a year and a plaque.
    “My students mean everything to me,” he said. “What I do, it’s not for these awards, it’s for my students. Part of my success comes from a gift from a higher power to talk to my students in a language they can understand. OTC is a super place to work, and if I have my choice, I’ll be here 25 years from now.”