The faculty of Central Oregon Community College voted to honor Deborah Davies, professor of dental assisting, with this year’s Faculty Achievement Award. Presented annually since 1986, the award recognizes excellence in teaching.

A member of the COCC faculty since 2005, Davies created the curriculum for the college’s dental assisting program, which has become one of COCC’s most successful and popular programs.

Students’ remarks on course evaluations underscore Davies’s willingness and capacity to assist her students in achieving excellence, according to Shirley Metcalf, COCC’s interim vice president for instruction.

Comments include “I feel like I really understand because she teaches well” and “She answers all questions in a positive manner and is also very helpful and attentive—even outside of class.” Superlatives include “my favorite instructor,” “the best college instructor I have had” and “the goddess of teaching.”

“My goal is to be a mentor to my students, teaching them to teach themselves,” said Davies. “It is very rewarding to help someone learn new skills, and I learn so much in the process!”

Working with Volunteers in Medicine, Davies helped to establish a low-cost dental clinic on the COCC campus in 2005. This program gives dental assisting students practical experience while providing basic dental care to Deschutes County’s low-income and uninsured employed adults. “It has been a wonderful success and a win-win-win for students, patients and the volunteer dentists,” she said.

“It is exciting to realize that with this knowledge and experience, students can pursue worthwhile and productive careers in the dental health field,” said Davies. “Watching them transform from student to dental professional is the best aspect of teaching for me.”

Davies earned an associate’s degree in dental hygiene from Pueblo Community College, a bachelor’s degree in biology and a secondary education certificate from the University of Southern Colorado, an Oregon Dental Hygiene License and certification by the National Dental Hygiene Board.