Math Teacher Wins Prize for Excellence

Sara Purington

Continuous commitment and dedication throughout nearly 20 years of teaching at Glendale Community College has earned mathematics professor Sid Kolpas the Hayward Award for Excellence in Education.

The award is given to community college faculty members who exhibit the highest level of commitment, excellence in teaching and outstanding performance in professional and campus activities.

Kolpas’ 2 1/2 years of unused sick days are just one example of his high level of commitment to teaching and to his students. This year he is the first professor from Glendale and only the second math professor to ever win the Hayward Award. He is also a nominee for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Professor of the Year Award.

Receiving this prestigious award has left Kolpas thoughtful. “I have a mixture of pleasure and guilt,” said Kolpas. “There are so many deserving teachers. But I’m gratified.”

After receiving the award for excellence in education, Kolpas said, “I better act like it,” which demonstrates his humble commitment to teaching.

“I don’t like being called a professor. What does it mean to profess?” said Kolpas. “I think teacher is better. Teaching is like an art.”

His peers, who nominated him for the award, feel as though he already acts like it.
In his letter for Kolpas’ nomination, John Queen, a political science professor, said, “He is recognized as one of the most outstanding teachers in the history of our college. He would quickly get to know each one of his students on a personal basis, their goals, and give them personal encouragement and feedback throughout the semester.”

This is not the first time Kolpas’ exceptional commitment and dedication has been recognized. He has received more than 30 awards in the past 20 years, including being named one of the top 100 professors in America.

Interim President Dawn Lindsay described Kolpas as a “dedicated and caring professional .He is a true ‘academic’ always working to improve the working experience. We are not only fortunate to have him at Glendale, but are very proud of all he has achieved and continues to give back.”
“I love community college,” says Kolpas. “So much is going on.”

Kolpass taught 20 years full time at Glendale College while participating in a hefty amount of activities, programs, volunteering and other teaching.

He is currently the Governance Review chair, a Science Lecture Series contributor and is a member of the Math Development and Student Affairs committees. These are just a few of Kolpas’ current involvements.

Kolpas has also written several grant proposals for Glendale College which have garnered more than a million dollars.
Kolpas is a member of numerous associations like the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, California Math Council and American Math Association. He has also taught at other schools including Occidental College, Cal State L.A., and at high schools and junior highs.

He has also written and contributed to four books, and this exhaustive list of achievements continues with Kolpas’ mentoring, supplemental instruction and weekend review classes. He is also involved in other volunteer projects in the community.

“We call him Mr. Superman,” said Alex Aleshkevich, one of Kolpas’ calculus students. This nickname demonstrates that Kolpas’ students recognize how much he does for them.

In his office Kolpas has a stack of handouts of a photocopy of an old arithmetic book and pom-poms to be used in his next class.
“I try to be different,” he said. “It takes a lot of work.”

Kolpas is also always available to his students. “I have e-mail, instant messaging, Facebook, I’m worse than my students,” said Kolpas.

“I wish I could be [19] again,” Kolpas said, “I feel like I’m [19].”

Kolpas’ commitment and dedication to teaching has been recognized by his peers, superiors, and students. Now this commitment has been recognized on a larger scale. On March 1 in Sacramento Kolpas received the Hayward Award for Excellence in Education.