OCC Teacher of the Year is Astronomy Professor
By: Steve Short
April 26, 2010 1:17AM PDT
The OCA was asked to attend a special OCC (Orange Coast College) Teacher of the Year awards ceremony held Thursday April 8th as it was presented to an Astronomy Professor (Nick Contopoulos) this year. OCA Treasurer Charlie Oostdyk and board member Steve Short represented the club, were pointed out during the presentation and Nick was pleased that they were present. Nick has been an OCA member in the past and says he informs his students that they can get hands-on astronomy experience at OCA events. The OCC published the following information:
OCC Astronomy professor, Nick Contopoulos, known to close associates as "Nick Astro", began his teaching career at Orange Coast College in 1991 after having earned his graduate degree from San Diego State University. Nick grew up in Berkeley and lived in Greece for a time. He is also a product of the community college system, having obtained his AS degree from Merritt College. He later taught there, as well as at a number of other community colleges, and California State University, East Bay.
After arriving as an instructor at Orange Coast College, Nick soon acquired a reputation for being a person students could approach easily. All hours of each teaching day are Nick's office hours. According to Dr. Arnold Guerra III, Nick possesses an innate desire to help students excel by motivating them to understand the fundamental concepts of Astronomy prior to sitting down to solve their homework problems. Nick's philosophy of education: 'As a community college instructor of astronomy at Orange Coast College my goal has been to inspire students by fostering a positive thirst for learning as they grasp the vastness of the universe. To motivate one student is often considered a great accomplishment; my philosophy is to motivate all my students through the study of astronomy, a branch of learning fundamentally rooted in all cultures of the world. I am immensely gratified when students in my classes have attained a degree of personal growth that prepares them to benefit the community and to participate in our rapidly changing technological society."
When he is not teaching, you will find Nick riding his bike in the Newport Beach Back Bay. He bicycles religiously and vows next year to be a regular bicycle commuter to Orange Coast College.
As Full-Time Faculty Member of the Year, Nick will be the faculty commencement speaker at OCC's 62nd Commencement.