November 2011 Employee Spotlight

| December 1, 2011

Lori Diefenbacher

Lori Diefenbacher, coordinator of Experiential Learning, MAT advisor and adjunct professor, School of Education; and Guadalupe Villarreal, site representative, Fort Bliss, Texas, share the November 2011 Employee Spotlight honors.

“As the coordinator of Experiential Learning, Lori Diefenbacher is a brilliantly creative educator,” says her nominator. “Her students enthusiastically adapt her teaching methods for use in their own classrooms, benefiting school children throughout our community.”

As an advisor, the nominator says Lori guides Webster students through all manner of logistical hurdles to achieve their educational goals, always with a kind word and a sense of humor.

In her day-to-day interactions with colleagues, Lori is appreciated for always treating everyone with kindness and respect and for doing more than her share on joint projects.

Any of these qualities would make Lori eligible for the Employee Spotlight award, but this summer she “surpassed even her own high standards by bringing her deep commitment to sustainability to local educators by creating the Midwest Sustainability PK12 Educators Institute with educators from the Missouri Botanical Garden and the St. Louis Zoo.”

The Institute drew more than 70 Missouri and Illinois educators to Webster for a conference on sustainability practices in educational settings and sustainability teaching for Early Childhood to Secondary Education students.

“The benefits of this conference for teachers, students and our environment are immeasurable,” says the nominator.

Lori has had multiple roles in the School of Education during most of her Webster career, which began in 1985. “I never know how to answer the question, ‘What do you do for a living?,” she quips. “I guess variety really is the spice of life.”

“Many of us have had that moment when students express their heart-felt appreciation for the impact we have had on their lives,” Lori says, remembering a student, an elementary school teacher, who was in the middle of a divorce, pregnant and depressed and considering an MAT in Special Education.”

Lori asked her what she liked most in life and without hesitation, she said “Horses.” To the student’s surprise, Lori suggested she take a leave of absence from teaching and classes to do something with horses. Two years later, Lori learned the student had remarried, finished her degree and started and equestrian therapy school for children with special needs. “I never saw her again, but it made me so happy to know that she was fulfilled.”

Heading the 2011 Sustainability Institute was a career highlight for Lori. “It was incredible,” she says. “It was uplifting to share the experience with so many teachers and principals.”

Lori chose the $100 savings bond as her prize.

 

Guadalupe Villarreal

Guadalupe Villarreal‘s nominator says Guadalupe’s forté is customer service. “She is a cheerleader for Webster University, Fort Bliss.”

Guadalupe’s efforts at military forums have increased enrollments and her enthusiastic nature has helped Fort Bliss retain those students.

“She is pleasant to all she encounters and has the willingness to go above and beyond to assist students in administrative matters,” the nominator says.

A life-long learner, Guadalupe volunteers for projects that will expand her knowledge base. Currently pursuing a master’s degree with Webster, she has earned a reputation for her impressive presentations and represents “the highest of standards.”

“She is a change agent, always thinking outside the box about how Webster Fort Bliss can do better,” says the nominator. “Guadalupe is the type of employee every manager wants.”

Guadalupe has been with Fort Bliss for nearly three years. As site representative, she enjoys helping prospective and current students by meeting their needs and helping them feel good about being students at Webster University.

Like Lori, Guadalupe finds the students’ successes to be her greatest reward. She remembers a student who was overwhelmed with two courses and wanted to drop one. Guadalupe encouraged her to continue, pointing out that she also was juggling her job, classes and family. “I told her if I could do it, she could too,” and I also reminded her that she had the first two weeks to make the decision. The student stayed in both courses, completed her MBA and is now a Webster alumna.

Guadalupe was happy to receive the Employee Spotlight award, in part because it gives her the opportunity to tell everyone how wonderful Webster has been to her. She especially appreciates completing her own MBA with Webster, saying it’s “one of the biggest accomplishments in my life.”

Guadalupe chose the $100 savings bond as her prize.

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