Sentinel Progress

PENDLETON — Jennifer Hulehan’s creative efforts in redesigning developmental course offerings to improve retention and student success earned her the esteemed A. Wade Martin Innovator of the Year award.

Hulehan, who leads Tri-County Technical College’s Comprehensive Studies department, was singled out among 16 nominees, one from each technical college in S.C., and was recognized at the S.C. Technical Education Association annual conference in Myrtle Beach.

The Innovator of the Year award is named in honor of A. Wade Martin, the first executive director of the technical and industrial training program in S.C., now the SC Technical College System. The award was established to recognize individuals in the technical college system who employ innovative approaches to meet the ever-changing needs in the technical education arena and whose achievements assist in statewide economic development and the education of students.

“Successful innovation requires a good team,” said Hulehan. “We are fortunate at Tri-County to have an administration that is willing to support our efforts. We’re also fortunate to have a dedicated team of educators in the Comprehensive Studies Department, who are willing to put in long hours and hard work to do what’s best for students.”

In 2012, Hulehan and her team introduced and piloted a Fast Track program and later an Express Track program, designed to increase student success and retention.

Using the nationally-known Emporium teaching model, she and her math, English and reading faculty created a modified design to help students move through their developmental coursework as quickly as possible. The team redesigned pre-curricular courses to give students a smoother and shorter academic journey so they can move more quickly into their program of study.

Both of these programs resulted in double digit improvement in persistence and retention in the developmental courses and subsequent credit courses. Students in Fast Track classes had an 87 percent success rate while Express Track succeeded at a rate of 73 percent.

“Jennifer’s leadership in re-conceptualizing, reinventing and revolutionizing developmental education for the students at Tri-County has resulted in significant improvements in student learning, outcomes and success,” said Dr. Ronnie Booth, president of Tri-County Technical College. “Her spirit of innovation is well known to her colleagues, who value her energy, collaborative spirit and dedication to student success.”

“Jennifer lives out an authentic commitment to the success of all students, individually and collectively, in the way she leads the Comprehensive Studies department, teaches her courses, invests in students and employees, serves the College and challenges the status quo to continually innovate and improve,” said Jenni Creamer, dean of College Transitions at Tri-County, in support of the nomination.

Hulehan joined the college’s English Department in 2004 as an instructor in the Arts and Sciences Division. She was named Department Head for Comprehensive Studies in 2012 where she was part of the team charged with developing the Quality Enhancement Plan as part of the SACS reaffirmation process. She led the plan which focused on individual students in need of a first-year student experience.

The work was instrumental in Tri-County obtaining a Title III grant to expand the Learning Excellence Initiative program, officials said.

In addition to her responsibilities as department head, she teaches developmental and college-level English, Freshman Seminar and College Skills courses.

She also created two student success courses, an e-Learning Success course and a high school dual enrollment transition course. She piloted an early alert system to help increase student success.

Hulehan currently serves as president of the S.C. chapter of the National Association for Developmental Education and chair of its marketing committee. She is a member of the National Council of Teachers of English, the Two-Year College English Association and the S.C. State Council, International Reading Association. She is secretary for the S.C. Association for Developmental Education (SCADE), president of the SC Department of English and chair of Tri-County’s Cultural Enrichment Series committee.

In 2017, Hulehan was recognized by SCADE with the Outstanding Service to Students Award.

She received the Tri-County Technical Education Association Educator of the Year award in 2015. She serves on the Simpsonville City Council and is active in numerous community projects such as Habitat for Humanity.

She holds B. A. and M.A. degrees in English from Winthrop University. She and her husband, Trent, live in Simpsonville.

Jennifer Hulehan, right, received the A. Wade Martin Innovator of the Year award at the S.C. Technical Education Association annual conference. Presenting the award is Dr. Tim Hardee, president and executive director of the SC Technical College System. Hulehan, right, received the A. Wade Martin Innovator of the Year award at the S.C. Technical Education Association annual conference. Presenting the award is Dr. Tim Hardee, president and executive director of the SC Technical College System. Courtesy photo

Staff report