PENDLETON, SC – Mia Tensley’s dedication to Tri-County Technical College (TCTC), her students, and her craft earned her the highest award presented to faculty.
Tensley, Reading and College Skills instructor in the Academic and Career Foundations (ACF) Department, and Faculty Liaison for the Office of Academic Development, was honored today (May 4) with the Presidential Medallion for Instructional Excellence at the College's spring convocation.
The medallion is presented each year to the instructor who has contributed the most during the academic year to the profession of teaching, to the development of the College and to the students.
“Mia exemplifies the mission and values of Tri-County in every interaction she has with students, faculty, staff, and members of our community,” her colleagues in the ACF Department wrote in their nomination letter. “From the beginning of her time in this department, Mia’s commitment to the success of her students has been evident. If you have ever had the pleasure of sitting in one of her virtual or face-to-face classes or merely walking past in the hallway, you will hear sound effects, laughter, and clear examples of student engagement. Mia consistently does everything in her power to keep the attention of her students so that they will remain focused on her lessons and be more likely to retain the material. She is passionate about helping students succeed, so she embraces the opportunity to reach as many students as possible in as many ways possible,” co-workers wrote.
Jennifer Hulehan, dean of ACT and the Arts and Sciences Division, said, “I have had the opportunity to join Mia in her synchronous online classes, and the energy and engagement of her students is a testament to her dedication to creating and delivering high-quality learning experiences in any environment. Each class meeting offers active, participatory experiences that include collaboration and teamwork. Students truly enjoy her classes.”
Co-workers praise her ability to pivot from in-person classes to online during the pandemic while maintaining that personal touch when face-to-face classes resumed last year.
“She was instrumental in both planning and implementing our successful transition to our modified tutorial version during the pandemic,” co-workers wrote. “She reached out to the publisher of her text to get an ebook for students, ensuring continuity of the course objectives. She successfully negotiated this additional text option for no charge. Her passion for delivering content and creating positive learning outcomes for her students is evident in every aspect of her approach to teaching and learning.”
In addition to teaching students, in her role as faculty liaison, Tensley teaches Learning College 101, a course which provides new full-time faculty an opportunity to integrate into the TCTC culture throughout their first semester. Faculty group meetings are used to encourage faculty to implement diverse teaching and learning strategies that promote both the acquisition and application of knowledge and understanding in an attempt to foster student success in the classroom.
Tensley understands the value of community college education. She earned her first college degree, an associate in arts, from TCTC in 2001. She is always telling the TCTC story to her students.
“When I enrolled in the University Transfer program, I was a first-generation college student without a clear understanding of college,” Tensley said. “Instructors gave me support and just enough resistance to empower me to complete that portion of my educational path. I returned to Tri-County as an instructor as I am a strong believer that in life, I cannot simply ‘take from the table’ and that ‘service to others is the rent we pay for our room on Earth.’ I have found that being involved at Tri-County affords me the ability to pay forward what was liberally given to me.”
In 2019 Tensley was recognized as one of the College’s Educators of the Year at the South Carolina Technical Education Association annual conference and her peers elected her Faculty Senate President.
She was instrumental in launching TCTC’s inaugural transfer fair focused on historically black colleges and universities and minority serving institutions in 2021. She served on the College’s IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access) Council and the Student Enrichment Committee.
Tensley recently supported the College’s efforts to increase outreach opportunities in underserved communities, through her participation in community listening sessions in partnership with the Homeland Park Baptist Church’s Community Center.
Her commitment to her community extends beyond TCTC. In February Tensley was appointed to the Pendleton Foundation for Black History and Culture board. She was recognized April 17 by Clemson Mayor Robert Halfacre and the Clemson City Council
for her work as a founding member of the Clemson Area African American Museum (CAAAM) and as the chair of the Friends of CAAAM for the past two years. As the Friends of CAAAM chair, Mia led efforts to support the mission of CAAAM, which is to collect, interpret, exhibit, and preserve the history of African Americans in Clemson and Upstate South Carolina. She also served as the Juneteenth Coordinator, raising funds and coordinating logistics for the celebration of the historical event, and represented the group on the City of Clemson's Art and Culture Commission
In addition to her TCTC degree, she earned a bachelor’s degree in Special Education from Clemson University. While at Clemson, she received the John Richardson Award for Excellence in Education. She also earned an M.Ed. in Literacy and Curriculum from Grand Canyon University and an R2S Literacy Certification from the South Carolina Department of Education. In 2022 she began Southern Wesleyan’s doctoral program in Curriculum and Assessment.
Her previous employment includes direct care counselor for New Foundations Children and Family Services, a Special Education teacher at Anderson School District 5 and Pickens County School District, and lead instructor for Rehabilitative Behavioral Health Services for Oconee County School District.
She and her husband, Demetrick, and their two daughters, live in Central.
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