PVCC radiography professor Nicole Winkler awarded 2017 Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence

Nicole Winkler

Nicole Winkler, associate professor and radiography program director at Piedmont Virginia Community College, has been awarded the 2017 Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence.  

The Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence is awarded annually to one teaching faculty member in the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) who distinctly represents the teaching excellence found at VCCS colleges.

“Ms. Winkler is an outstanding teacher and thanks to her leadership, the radiography program has become a star program at the college,” said PVCC President Frank Friedman. “Our radiography graduates are in high demand because area employers recognize the excellence of the program. Not only do students demonstrate the required knowledge and skills to excel in their field, but they are especially strong in soft skills such as teamwork and communication. That does not happen by accident and is a direct result of the family atmosphere that Ms. Winkler has developed for the program. Her hard work has resulted in nearly 100 percent retention and graduation rate and a 100 percent pass rate on the licensure exam. We are exceptionally proud of Ms. Winkler and all that she has accomplished.”

Winkler began her career as an x-ray technologist at UVA Medical Center and came to work at PVCC when UVA Health System’s radiography certificate program was transitioned to the college where it become the associate of applied science degree in radiography.

“Initially, I thought taking x-rays in the hospital setting would be where I found the most excitement,” said Winkler, a native of Canton, Ohio, who now resides in Stuarts Draft. “Two short years into my career, I became a clinical instructor, and it did not take long for me to realize just how much each student meant to me and how gratifying it was to share my love of the field with students. Today, I know that if I can plant a seed of hope into the heart of a struggling student then I will have paid forward the excellent instruction bestowed upon me when I was a student.”

In the seven years she’s taught at PVCC, Winkler has built a strong and versatile imaging program that utilizes modern course methodologies, such as team-based learning, to better engage students with course material. She’s also developed several online classes for the program, which are intended to help students learn complex material, such as physics or ethics concepts, that often require additional study outside the classroom to successfully master.

“Students can read about something until they’re blue in the face, but to actually ‘experience’ the things that we talk or read about is where students make the most meaningful connections,” said Winkler. “In my program, students are given a multitude of opportunities to work together in groups, both in the classroom and in the clinical setting. They learn the value of teamwork, communication, kindness, professionalism and peer collaboration as they work together to best serve the needs of the patient.”

In addition to her role as instructor and program director, Winkler takes an active role in campus life, serving as faculty advisor for the student Radiography Club and as a teacher of self-defense workshops, which she holds annually.

“My students found out that I have a first degree Shodan black belt in Okinawan Kempo and asked if we could hold a self-defense workshop and use it as a fundraiser to send radiography students to the annual state radiologic conference,” said Winkler. “I said yes, of course, and it turned out to be an extremely popular event—so much so that we now offer the workshop to students every year.”

Winkler also serves as a mentor to two PVCC students as part of the college’s new mentorship program. She says that she wanted to become a mentor to “pay forward the abundance of kindness, generosity and overwhelming support that I have received throughout my life.”

“Being a mentor is just one small way that I can positively influence the remarkable lives of the amazing community college students in this area,” said Winkler. “I know how much I love my students, and it’s been extremely rewarding to get to know two other PVCC students outside my program and help them on their path to success.”

Winkler has a master’s degree in education with an emphasis on instructional technology from Virginia Tech, a bachelor’s degree in radiologic sciences from Adventist University and a certificate of radiography from the UVA Health System. She is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in higher education administration at Liberty University.

“The highlight of my career is student success,” said Winkler. ”Caring for the patient community is what we do as radiographers. I feel privileged to teach students how to do this with professionalism, kindness, empathy and love.”

To be eligible for the Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence, faculty members must be teaching full-time, must have at least five years of full-time teaching experience within the VCCS and must be recommended by the president of the employing institution. To learn more about the Virginia Community College System, visit www.vccs.edu. To learn more about PVCC’s radiography program, visit www.pvcc.edu/radiography.