Jan Banister has brought her love of community and her expertise in interior design together to benefit the Columbus community.
In so doing, the chairwoman of the environmental design program at Ivy Tech Community College–Columbus/Franklin recently was selected as the winner of the first Excellence in Service-Learning Instructional Award at the college.
Academic service-learning integrates academic coursework and relevant community service with structured reflection to enhance student learning, to develop civic responsibility and to address community needs.
The award honors the faculty member who has made the most outstanding contribution to the betterment of students and the community through a service-learning class or classes.
Banister has been a whirlwind at Ivy Tech since she became a faculty member in August 2010. She has engaged her students in numerous projects that have become learning experiences for them and have benefited the community at the same time.
One of the most time-consuming and helpful projects was the assistance that students in Banister’s program gave in designing office spaces and furnishing donated desks and cabinets following the devastating fire at the United Way offices in fall 2011.
Hayli Hopkins and Dawn Shepherd learned how to draw floor plans for each of the United Way agencies, traveled to several locations to measure and to catalog donated furniture and interviewed agency representatives to learn of their needs.
Doug Otto, then United Way president, wrote, “Each of you has a special talent for design. We are grateful for your service to us and to our community. We want you to know that you are truly appreciated for your fine work.”
Another project that benefited both the students and the community involved designing space for a new office layout for the Heritage Fund. Tracy Souza, president and CEO of the Heritage Fund, sent a note of appreciation to Ivy Tech for the work of four environmental design students — Micaela Rushalk, Emmalee Luckman, Hayli Hopkins and Dawn Shepherd — complimenting them on their “outstanding design project.”
In the fall of 2011, the first assignment to 16 of Banister’s students was to design the dining room of the Inn at Irwin Gardens for the United Way’s first Decorators Showcase.
Jenny Simms, event coordinator, wrote, “Because of you, many in Columbus were able to see the Inn at Irwin Gardens decorated so beautifully for the holidays. You are truly appreciated.”
Other service-learning projects, involving Mill Race Center, Children Inc. and Lincoln-Central Family Neighborhood Center, have been undertaken by Banister and her students, and the community has benefited.
Upon receiving the award, Banister said: “Walking the line daily between instilling the technical skills the employers need and encouraging critical and creative design thinking is no simple task, and yet my cohorts in the Ivy Tech School of Fine Arts & Design — Jonathan Wilson, Lloyd Brooks, and Mark Searles — and our professional adjunct faculty members have created an atmosphere of collaboration and interdisciplinary curiosity that serves the students and the college mission well.”
Lynne Sullivan is assistant director of marketing & communications at Ivy Tech Community College — Columbus/Franklin.