Katherine Francois, chemistry instructor at Gwinnett Technical College was recently named the 2020 Gwinnett Technical College Rick Perkins Instructor of the Year.

The annual award given to instructors in Georgia’s technical college system began in 1991 and is designed to recognize and honor technical college instructors who make significant contributions to technical education through innovation and leadership in their fields.

“It is truly an honor to have my colleagues feel that I am deserving of this award,” Francois said. “I am grateful to represent the faculty, staff, and students that make up the body of the Gwinnett Tech family. As a relatively new instructor, it is surely the confidence boost I needed in order to know that I am doing something right.”

Francois found her inspiration to teach when she was a teaching assistant in graduate school.

“My whole life, I always told myself I didn’t have the patience it took to be a teacher,” she said. “It wasn’t until I was a teaching assistant in graduate school that I felt and understood the impact I could have on students. We have all had a teacher that we recommend to our friends, but we have also all had a teacher that made us feel helpless, insecure, or unworthy. My goal is to always be the instructor that shows the students the potential they have.”

She said her students, who hail from diverse backgrounds, inspire here to be an instructor.

“When they are putting everything on the line to start a job in a field they love, how can I not be there, not only as an educator, but as a supporter, motivator, and coach, and give them all I have?” she said.

Francois has a master of science in chemistry from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a bachelor of science in chemistry from Westminster College in Pennsylvania.

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Taylor Denman is a reporter born and raised in Gwinnett County. He came back home to seize the rare opportunity of telling stories about the county in which he grew up.

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