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Foothill Instructor Recognized by American Chemical Society

April 9, 2019

kathy armstrongFoothill chemistry instructor Kathleen Armstrong, Ph.D., was recently awarded the Teacher-Scholar Award by the Silicon Valley Chapter of the American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific community. The award is the first in the country to recognize the contributions of community college chemistry teachers. 

“It’s an honor, and a vote of confidence,” Dr. Armstrong said. “Teaching is something you learn. I’ve learned to be a better teacher by continually trying to improve and noticing what works and what doesn’t.” 

Dr. Armstrong has taught at Foothill for 18 years. She is also the faculty advisor for the Foothill College ACS Club. Few community colleges have an ACS chapter on campus. Students get access to career planning tools, networking opportunities and national meetings. 

At her award presentation, several of Dr. Armstrong’s organic chemistry students presented poster projects to ACS representatives as a dry run of a professional research project. This is also part of engaging students in the scientific process and letting them apply their knowledge to real life. That building of intellectual capacity and scholarship is one reason why Dr. Armstrong was honored by ACS. 

“Engaging with students is the most rewarding part of the job, and I love getting to know them over the course of the year. What I like about community colleges is that people can re-invent themselves and pursue their goals despite a late start, or switch gears and train for a new career,” Dr. Armstrong added. 

Organic chemistry is a yearlong course required for professional programs in medicine, pharmacy and STEM careers. Besides the subject matter, Dr. Armstrong hopes her students learn valuable skills that will benefit them throughout their lives. “They may not remember the chemistry, but they will remember the problem solving skills and critical thinking they gained from the course,” she said. “But you know -- we want them to learn some organic chemistry too.”