Congratulations to College of Western Idaho (CWI) English Department Chair and Professor, Joy Palmer, who was named Faculty of Distinction for May 2023!
Palmer has been part of the CWI community since Fall 2009, where she has since taught various classes such as English 101 (ENGL 101), Persuasive Writing (ENGL 201), Introduction to Shakespeare (ENGL 235), and much more.
For Palmer, teaching is a way for her to continue to learn — something she hopes to never stop doing. Whether it is from her students and what they are able to bring into the classroom or through assignments or from her colleagues around the College who share their time and resources with her. She also acquires knowledge every day through her job by reflecting on her own teaching and other work and seeking out information to help continue to better herself.
“I think even more importantly, I've learned so much about how I want to be in the world by seeing so many people, such as students, faculty, and staff, who are so remarkable and inspiring and caring, and they push me to be better,” Palmer said. “I teach because it is the most rewarding thing I've ever done.”
Approaching 14 years at CWI, Palmer chooses to continue to teach at the College because it provides affordable, accessible education to everyone — no matter their background. She also enjoys working alongside the faculty and staff who are dedicated to that mission, and supporting students working toward their educational goals.
“We talk about students learning how to learn, and I absolutely believe that is something we do and something of enormous value,” Palmer said. “But I think, more importantly, we help students bring their own expertise into the course content — to see themselves as people with something valuable to say. My goal is for students to leverage what they're already good at and find ways to transfer those strengths to new situations. If they make excellent TikToks, then they know about audience and genre, and those things are key to being a successful communicator in and out of academic settings.”
Being able to see students succeed and blossom in what they love is what fuels Palmer. One of her favorite memories at the College has been teaching and working alongside CWI alumna, Ana Karen Arizmendi.
“Ana Karen never chose easy topics or angles, but she was committed to doing excellent work; she dug deep for research, made multiple revisions to better meet audience expectations, and produced one of the most unique essays I've seen in 18 years teaching first-year writing,” Palmer said.
Palmer believes through the College she is able to help empower students to achieve their goals and help them become lifelong learners.
That love for teaching and helping students grow in their talents does not go unnoticed among Palmer’s peers. CWI Arts and Humanities Dean, Justin Vance, calls Palmer “professional” and “respectful,” and commends her ability to adapt to any environment to maintain focus on student success.
“Her work impacts not only the English department but the entire institution,” said Vance. “Of great significance, Joy is the leader of perhaps the largest department at CWI and performs that duty at the highest level. Largely due to her leadership and successful delegation of duties to her supervisees, about 70% of students complete a college-level English course within one year of enrollment.”
Outside of the classroom, Palmer enjoys spending time with her husband, Zeb, her eight-year-old son, Ian, and their Goldendoodle, Ruby.
She also likes to spend her free time knitting, crocheting, hiking, fishing, and reading (some of her favorite genres are science-fiction, fantasy, and romance). For the last four years, she has been taking music lessons for several different instruments such as violin, ukulele, piano, and guitar.