MATTOON — Lake Land College Dental Hygiene Instructor/Director of Dental Hygiene Debbie Thomason received the Full-Time Faculty Award at Lake Land College’s Virtual Commencement ceremony on June 18. Thomason will be retiring at the end of the summer after 12 years of service to Lake Land College.
Vice President for Academic Services Jon Althaus praised Thomason’s positive influence for the students, saying she always motivates them in both the classroom and the clinic to do their best.
“Debbie has been an integral part of the dental hygiene program at Lake Land College for many years,” Althaus said. “She has a true passion for dental hygiene.”
Lake Land College will forward Thomason’s nomination to the Illinois Community College Trustees Association for consideration of the ICCTA Full-Time Faculty Award.
The Lake Land College Dental Hygiene program is a regional program attracting students from throughout the state of Illinois. Students in the program advance through a rigorous academic program that prepares them to provide preventative dental care to patients in a clinical setting.
Thomason graduated from the Lake Land College Dental Hygiene program herself in 1977. She then began teaching part-time for the program in 1984 and joined the full-time faculty in 2008.
In her time at Lake Land College, Thomason has taught and co-taught a variety of classes in the program as well as being a continuing education presenter on local anesthetics, polish and stain removal, sealants and medical emergencies in the dental office.
Not only has Thomason provided her teaching skills, she was instrumental in building a relationship between Lake Land College’s dental hygiene program and Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center’s Dental Hygiene program which provides community dental health opportunities Thomason also helped to form a bond between the dental hygiene program at Lake Land College and the Douglas County Dental Clinic, allowing Lake Land College students to assist the dentist chairside.
Lake Land College students also provide dental cleanings and X-rays to patients in the Dental Hygiene Lab on campus. In September of 2018, Thomason successfully secured a grant from Heartland Dental for the Dental Hygiene Lab, providing the latest equipment available to the industry and helping to prepare students for a seamless transfer to a professional office.
Thomason was also involved in several areas at Lake Land College as a member of the LLCFA social committee, the cheer committee and general education committee.
Being an examiner for The Central Regional Dental Testing Service Inc., Thomason gained valuable insight into the practice competency portion of the board exam. She has been able to pass this knowledge on to the students as well as educating the faculty and clinic staff.
Thomason is also leading the faculty in completing the self-study report for accreditation in the fall. The accreditation allows students to practice in the clinic and be able to take their board examination.
Still another area of Thomason’s work is the renewal and securing of an articulation agreement with Southern Illinois University Carbondale Dental Hygiene program, which allows students to transfer easily from Lake Land College to SIU-C. Thomason also has active memberships in the American Dental Education Association, the American Dental Hygiene Association and the Illinois Dental Hygiene Association.
Thomason has an exemplary record as an effective instructor and subject matter expert. She practices a “students first” philosophy in each role she fills at Lake Land College. Thomason has been a teacher for more than 36 years and has taught more than one thousand students.
“My teaching philosophy is that teaching a student is much more than delivering information,” Thomason said. “It is caring enough to help them develop the necessary skills to become a successful, caring human being. A teacher needs to help their students develop the tools to thrive, and most of all we need to show them that we care.”
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