Mt. Pleasant area woman wins top teaching honor
Carole A. Zeglin said she often uses her past on-the-job experiences as a phlebotomist and laboratory technician to craft classroom lessons as an associate professor at Westmoreland County Community College near Youngwood.
That real world-based method of instruction recently led Zeglin — a Bullskin resident — to be named the recipient of the college's 2012-13 Outstanding Teaching Award.
“It was kind of an unexpected and a really nice thing to have that happen,” said Zeglin, 64, of the honor recently presented to her by college President Daniel J. Obara.
As director of the college's clinical laboratory technology, medical assisting and phlebotomy programs, Zeglin added that she takes pride in her ability to convey to her students what they can expect from real-world work in those fields.
“Teaching was always a longtime dream of mine,” Zeglin said. “I chose a medical career initially, so I combined my professional experience and my education, and it's really been very rewarding to me, as a teacher, to say to a student, ‘This is how it really happens when you're working with a patient.'”
One of those students, Connellsville's Christina Parfitt, said Zeglin's unique instruction style compelled her to nominate Zeglin for the recent honor.
“She went above and beyond her duty as a teacher,” said Parfitt, 28, who is pursuing an associate's degree as a member of the first class of Zeglin's clinical laboratory technology program. “She did this kind of work during her career, so she's explaining what she has already done. It's the best kind of instruction a student can experience.
“She's not just the best teacher of the year, she's the best teacher of my life.”
Zeglin said the surprise she felt at receiving the recognition was surpassed only by the gratitude she has for Parfitt for nominating her for such an honor.
“It's really amazing that (Christina) took the time to verbalize her thoughts in nominating me,” she said.
Winners of the award must demonstrate teaching excellence, instructional innovation, contributions to curricular development and leadership to one's discipline and profession, said Anna Maria Palatella, the college's spokeswoman. They are nominated by students and the eventual recipient is chosen by a committee of their peers, Palatella said.
Zeglin, who began teaching at WCCC in 1995, has made a lasting impact in several departments at the college, Palatella said.
In addition to developing the programs and writing the curricula for each, Zeglin also helped the medical assisting program receive initial accreditation, Palatella said.
Parfitt nominated Zeglin for the award after taking her for numerous courses and trying to decide on a major. She said Zeglin was a big help to her education path, and a great member of the college's faculty.
Zeglin holds degrees from St. Vincent College in Unity, Point Park University in Pittsburgh and Franklin School of Science and Arts in Philadelphia.
She has co-authored several textbooks in her field and has served in various WCCC committees.
“The opportunity to use my education and experience to help students has been my best teaching accomplishment,” Zeglin said. “The absolute best experience is seeing a past student reach a goal and become independent.”
Zeglin's first career was as a clinical laboratory technologist at what then was known as Frick Hospital in Mt. Pleasant.
In 1980, Zeglin was hired as a phlebotomist at the family practice of now-retired physician Frank Maida in the borough.
She said it's there where she learned much of the hands-on experience she draws on today in the classroom from Maida and registered nurse Bonnie Cunningham of Scottdale.
“Because of my position in Dr. Maida's office, I was able to correlate what I saw with what it meant in medical terms,” said Zeglin, who worked in Maida's office until his retirement in the early 1990s. “That was a really rewarding career.”
Cunningham, a retired licensed practical nurse, called Zeglin “a gem to work with.”
“We worked there for so long, even the patients became part of our lives. We just all worked together,” said Cunningham, 77. “Carole was so good, she ran the lab, but when she wasn't busy doing something else we had her working with the patients.”
When informed of Zeglin's recent achievement, Maida expressed excitment and happiness, but not surprise.
“She was one of my best workers,” said Maida, 87, who lives with his wife, Phyllis, in Raleigh, N.C. “I'm very pleased that she's gone on to do good things.”
Zeglin credited her husband, Mt. Pleasant native Daniel Zeglin, 66, with supporting all of her pursuits.
“Mt. Pleasant has been my home for a long time,” she said.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.