2017 distinguished, outstanding faculty named

Terry Thomas
Sherry Colarusso
Kevin Williams

St. Johns River State College presented its 2017 Distinguished New Faculty and Outstanding Faculty Awards at the College’s annual fall Faculty Convocation held at the Thrasher-Horne Center. The 2017 Distinguished New Faculty Award was presented to Professor Terry Thomas, who teaches business and accounting courses. Mathematics instructor Sherry Colarusso received the Outstanding Faculty Award. The awards are sponsored by the SJR State Foundation.

The Distinguished New Faculty Award recognizes a new faculty member who has demonstrated strength using original instructional techniques and creative ways of thinking to successfully guide students into the future. The faculty member’s depth and breadth of expertise, sensitivity, enthusiasm and dedication are all factors considered for this award. Additionally, the award recipient excels at inspiring students to perform beyond normal expectations and is responsive to addressing needs within and outside the classroom.

Thomas’ inspirational teaching style has changed the hearts of many students who initially dreaded taking accounting classes. According to SJR State Director of Business Education Joel Abo, “Professor Thomas’ classes are always exciting and engaging. She is continually available to her students and is constantly communicating with them through Blackboard, e-mail and by phone.”

Thomas’ strong interest in computers led her to pursue many computer certifications, and she was instrumental in developing the College’s first business industry certification with QuickBooks. “As a result, our students have the opportunity to strengthen their resume and increase their marketability with a QuickBooks certification under their belt,” said Abo. “Professor Thomas is an active part of the Workforce family and is not afraid to take the lead.”               
Thomas has also been a beneficial resource for other projects at the College, such as the Career Pathways for Adult Education initiative. Her creative strategies, which combine instruction, internships, entrepreneurship and creative use of technology, also came in handy when assisting with the development of a program proposal.

The Outstanding Faculty Award pays tribute to a faculty member who continuously demonstrates a commitment to the unique mission of the College and whose accomplishments in teaching and service are prodigious and of the highest quality. The recipient of this award must be an inspiring, challenging and effective teacher whose concern and respect for students are evident both in and out of the classroom. Additionally, the faculty member must make important and extensive contributions to the field and share those contributions with peers.

Colarusso, referred to as “the epitome of a master teacher” by SJR State Mathematics Professor Billy Veczko, is also well known for connecting with and engaging her students, as well as inspiring other math faculty to do the same. “Her upbeat personality is contagious, and her students think very highly of her,” said Veczko. “She demonstrates expertise in the profession and knows her craft well, and she never hesitates to participate in committees outside of her normal duties in an effort to support the College and its mission.”

Colarusso has served on various committees, including the QEP Design Team and the Developmental Education Redesign Team. During the 2016-2017 academic year, she served as a facilitator for the Active Learning Workshop.

SJR Mathematics Professor Mark Wilson said, “Sherry, who has produced an amazing amount of educational material for her students, has impressed me with how she continually evaluates her teaching methods and materials in an effort to make them even more effective. That, to me, is a sign of an excellent teacher. Her caring concern for her students and dedication to their success is evident in all that she does. Professor Colarusso is well-respected and liked by both her students and her mathematics department colleagues.”

Kevin Williams was also presented with the 2017 Workforce Adjunct Faculty of the Year Award. Since 2013, Williams has been actively involved with providing student guidance as well as hands-on lab and clinical-setting experiences for students in SJR State’s emergency medical services program.

According to Vice President for Workforce Development Anna Lebesch, “Faculty nominees exemplify individuals who are dedicated to the SJR State mission and meeting the needs of Workforce Development. These individuals have demonstrated their dedication to students, to their program and to the College, going above and beyond to serve our students and the community. We appreciate their dedication and service to SJR State.”

Associate Dean of Allied Health Holly Coulliette said, “Kevin has brought professionalism, expertise, patience and enthusiasm to St. Johns River State College. Kevin’s dedication and experience allow the students an opportunity to be provided with scenarios based upon real-life circumstances. Kevin comes to lab prepared and positively guides the students to success as they practice skills.” The paramedic and emergency medical technician programs have a diverse population, including students who have never taken a college class, and Coulliette said that “the amount of time he spends with EMS students in lab and clinical settings is unprecedented.”

Student comments about Williams include, “Professor Williams is a great instructor. I look forward to any kind of class, clinic or lab when he is there, because I know that I will learn a great deal,” and “Five-star brilliant, perfect teaching.”

Williams is currently working on his master’s degree in Health Professions Education. He holds certifications in Basic Life Support, Advanced Life Support, Paramedic and Firefighter and has been involved with SJR State’s EMS program since its inception.

SJR State's paramedic program serves as an intermediate step for obtaining the College's Associate in Science degree in Emergency Medical Services, a program that serves as a one-stop resource for students interested in gaining both the medical and academic components necessary for career advancement. For more information, call 904-808-7465 or visit the College's website at

Distinguished New Faculty TerryThomas: SJR State business instructor Terry Thomas receives the 2017 Distinguished New Faculty Award from SJR State President Joe Pickens. The award is sponsored by the SJR State Foundation.

Outstanding Faculty SherryColarusso: SJR State mathematics instructor Sherry Colarusso receives the 2017 Outstanding Faculty Award from SJR State President Joe Pickens. The award is sponsored by the SJR State Foundation.

Workforce Development Adjunct Faculty of the Year Kevin Williams: Emergency Medical Services instructor Kevin Williams, left, receives SJR State’s 2017 Workforce Development Adjunct Faculty of the Year Award from EMS Program Director Richard Webb, Associate Dean of Allied Health Holly Coulliette and Vice President for Workforce Development Anna Lebesch.


Susan Kessler
Director of Public Relations and Publications
(386) 312-4020