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Luna’s Nichole Collins recognized for her teaching

Luna Community College’s STEM faculty Nichole Collins was recently one of 50 winners of the CompTIA+TestOut Teacher Appreciation giveaway where there were over 2000 nominations. CompTIA+Testout sent out a call for nominations through their Labsim platform asking students to recognize instructors who have helped them succeed in their learning.

Collins utilizes the CompTIA+TestOut technology courseware throughout many of her courses as it is an integrated online curriculum that allows students to build skills through a virtual environment as well as offers the ability to earn and prepare for industry certifications. Many students have earned TestOut’ s Office Pro, Client Pro, PC Pro, Network Pro, Security Pro, and Ethical Hacker Pro, to name a few, as part of the curriculum in the Computer Science AAS program and respective certificate programs.

Nicole Collins says her approach to teaching is student-focused and project-based learning.

The following is one-on-one interview with Collins as she shares her insights on the award and teaching acuity.

What did you say or think when you first found out you were selected?

I felt and still am proud, to say the least. It is an honor to be nominated by my students and see what they had to say. One thing that stood out in their nominations is something I take pride in, which is being available and understanding. I am grateful for all the students I have been able to work with and enjoy seeing their success.

What is your approach to teaching?

I approach teaching through student-focused and project-based learning. I feel it is also important to be understanding and have an inclusive learning environment, as not all students are the same.

What makes a good instructor?

I do not believe there is a cookie-cutter answer to what a good instructor is, as there are a variety of methods and approaches an instructor may use. I think the foundation of a “good” instructor is a person who cares about the success of their students as well as one that can adapt.

How long have you been teaching at Luna?

I have been teaching at LCC since 2010. However, I also had the opportunity to teach during the summer of 2000 and 2001 for the kid’s college.

What programs do you oversee or teach in?

I oversee the curriculum and teach all the program courses for the AAS in Computer Science, Computer Application Specialist Certificate, Cyber Security Certificate, and Video Game Design and Development Certificate.

What classes do you teach on an annual basis?

I cannot list what courses I teach on an annual basis as I teach all the CSA, CS, and VGD courses we offer. I have a set matrix for when all CS courses will be offered so that students can complete them within a two-year time frame and not only earn a CS AAS degree but earn additional certificates. This summer I am offering Introduction to Computer Science, Introduction to Information Systems, Security +, and Ethical Hacking.

What do your students do once they graduate from your program?

It depends; some students will continue their education at the Bachelor level. However, many enter the workforce as our CS program takes a skills-based approach to information technology. Locally, students have gained employment at school districts, clinics, and institutions, working in their IT departments. Students are also gaining employment outside our local area and state with a current graduate working in Wyoming. Information technology is a career that is growing and will continue to grow as well as provides a well-paying career.

What motivates you to teach?

I enjoy sharing my knowledge with others, and in the field of technology, you must be willing to continue to learn, as it is an ever-evolving area of study. Luna Community College is in my blood, as my grandfather was one of the founding board members as well as served on the original task force that did the feasibility study to build what at that time was Luna Vocational Technical Institute now LCC. My mother was a VP of Finance and Administration and retired from LCC after 28 years. This is part of what motivates me, as I know that LCC is an asset to our communities as we provide opportunities for people to learn a skill, trade, or continue their educational path. It not only is a job, but I enjoy being a part of this legacy.

What are your short-term goals and long-term goals?

I would like to continue building and maintaining the program to keep it current and provide students with the ability to earn a degree that has value. In the future, I may see myself stepping into an administrative role at Luna. Recently, LCC stepped into the E-sports world, and I hope that we can build that further.

What do you usually tell a student on the first day of class each semester?

One thing I tell students is “Do not be afraid to ask questions. I may not always have the answer, but I will help you find that answer if I do not have it.” I have also told students that I cannot teach them everything as there is always more to learn, but your education is in your hands, you get from it what you put in. I like to let my students know I am human just like them and I am always learning just like them, as I want to encourage lifelong learning.

Although it is an individual award, what does this award mean to Luna overall?

I think this is an example of the instructors we have here at LCC. I also believe it demonstrates the importance of having knowledgeable and caring instructors and their impact on our students. It is important to value instructors and their students, as they are the foundation of education.

Any final comments?

Thank you to the students who nominated me (it was anonymous) as well as all students who have been in my courses. If you are interested in the Computer Science program or certificate programs (CAS, Cyber Security, VGD) please feel free to contact me ( I will walk you through what the program entails and what it would look like for you.