Henke Awarded LCC Distinguished Adjunct Faculty

August 18, 2021

Labette Community College President, Dr. Mark Watkins on left, presented Luke Henke, right , with the 2021 Distinguished Adjunct Faculty of the Year Award.

Photo: Labette Community College President, Dr. Mark Watkins on left, presented Luke Henke, right , with the 2021 Distinguished Adjunct Faculty of the Year Award.

Parsons, KS- Labette Community College recently announced that Luke Henke, was named the 2021 Adjunct Faculty of the Year Award Recipient. Henke has been an adjunct instructor in the Mathematics department since 2010. He teaches beginning, intermediate and college algebras, trigonometry and calculus both at the Cherokee Center and concurrent courses at Columbus High School. 

The Distinguished Adjunct Faculty Award at LCC was developed on the premise that faculty members who have performed in an exemplary manner should be publicly recognized and rewarded. The criteria areas for the award are: teaching effectiveness, college service, involvement with students, and community engagement. All adjunct faculty who have completed at least four years of teaching service to LCC are eligible for the award and there is a three-year interim before a recipient is eligible to be selected for the award again. Faculty may be nominated by full-time employees, adjunct faculty, and students.

In support of LCC’s mission statement and high quality of instruction, Henke believes in ‘teaching how to think, not what to think”. He gives upfront instructions and works through problems with students as long as it takes for them to understand. Students find his lectures are a collaborative problem-solving process, which Henke believes is desired by businesses in the workforce. Henke aspires to constantly develop his personal teaching methods. He submits videos of lectures for critique and feedback from state leaders in Kansas and the National Science Foundation. 

“I don’t carry a calculator. I take the numbers the students give me - right or wrong - and we have a robust discussion on how to recognize if numbers aren’t what they should be as they do the work. It’s exactly what my students will be doing in the workforce. Then, during practice time, I work to connect them regarding their projects, internships, and crazy stories that might help me share ideas to future classes while inspiring them to keep working through what most consider a dreadful subject.

Henke has long been an advocate that high school students should receive college credit for the college-level coursework they complete. Concurrent courses are college courses taught at the high school by qualified high school instructors in which the students receive both high school and college credit. In 2018, Henke was the only instructor teaching a concurrent class. Since then, coursework has expanded to five Columbus High School teachers, at least eight different courses, and hundreds of students receiving credit for general education requirements through Labette Community College. 

Henke engages his students through talking through issues both in and outside the classroom and sharing personal experiences. When Henke learned of a previous students passing, he wanted to honor that student by creating a way to utilize skills in high school and beyond while developing friendships. He created an eSports team at Columbus High School with over 20 participants in the first year. 

His service to the high school and college go beyond the classroom in Henke’s engagement and leadership initiatives. He was selected to join Texas Instruments (TI) T3 Leadership Cadre, to grow and share how to use their technology. He was chosen as a Khan Academy Ambassador in 2018 to assist colleagues in understanding how the academy can be used in the classroom. Prior to teaching trigonometry at the Cherokee Center, Henke met with professors of a construction management program to align his course material with the student’s educational trajectory. The student success rate for this course has consistently improved.  

LCC students speak highly of his personal and positive approach to teaching. “Instructor Henke is an incredible instructor. He sets his students up for success by coming to class early or staying late to make sure the students understand the material,” said one student. 

“Mr. Henke is knowledgeable, creative, and passionate enough to go above and beyond expectations and teach Trigonometry in a way that was understandable and even interesting,” said another student. “His charisma and friendly demeanor helped me be comfortable in the classroom and gave me the confidence I needed to succeed. Mr. Henke leads inside and outside the classroom by teaching and applying not only trigonometry, but also character and integrity to life.”

Henke’s engagement continues in the Columbus community through a revitalization project, The Columbus Project. His church services expand into education through back to school fairs with haircuts, school supplies and career support. He is also a member of the Kansas Teachers of Mathematics and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and has presented at conferences across the state. Henke serves as a reviewer with the Kansas Department of Education, evaluating the Teacher of the Year and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching applications. He also provides feedback as a member of the advisory board to the Kansas Association of American Educators on how the organization can better serve the needs of educators across the state.

Henke said, “Being selected as the Kansas winner in the mathematics category of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching only reaffirmed my process. I’m still refining and am eager to continue to grow. I’ve been telling my students to aim for the highest good for life; being an outstanding teacher is the highest good I can aim for as my role impacts those who will take the reins of the world.”

For more information about the Adjunct Faculty of the Year award, contact Janice Every at janicec@labette.edu.

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