Spoon River College nursing educator Sarah Strode was the 2021 recipient of the H. Truman Standard Award for teaching excellence. The award was announced during employee appreciation receptions held in the spring.

Even though Strode says she never thought of herself as an educator, she often found herself in teaching positions either formally or informally throughout her years as a nurse. When the teaching position at Spoon River College came open, she decided to make it official. “I wanted to shape health care by giving back to the nursing community, and what better way than through educating student nurses! Working with the students renewed my love for nursing and allowed me to share my passion for compassionate and quality healthcare.”

Strode began teaching at Spoon River College part-time in the nursing skills lab in the fall of 2018 before becoming a full-time educator in the spring of 2019, but her career in health care began in 2002 when she enrolled in Graham Hospital School of Nursing. While attending school she worked at both Graham and Proctor hospitals. She graduated in 2005 with her Diploma in Nursing from Graham SON and with her Associate in General Studies from Spoon River College. She continued working at Proctor after completing her nursing degree, giving her a wide range of hands-on experience in various departments, including extended care, surgery, Home Health, Med/Surg, and Quality. She completed her MSN in 2016 from Walden University.

Numerous students submitted nominations for Strode, and key words appeared repeatedly – advocate, respect, supportive, honest, and humorous. “She advocates for each and every student, helps us work through problems with support and honesty, and offers a comfortable feeling that encourages honesty from her students. She also encourages us to perform self-care techniques, reminding us that we need to take care of ourselves so we can better take care of our patients. Sarah is a true asset to the nursing program.”

In the classroom or at a clinical, Strode’s goal is always to maintain a safe, student-centered environment that allows students to comfortably engage with the content and others through class participation, discussion, simulation, and personal experience. “Active learning happens through a team effort based on mutual respect and dignity. No question or idea is wrong, and we as a team investigate to find the most appropriate and safest option for the patient and their family.”

That doesn’t mean being serious all the time. “Learning needs to be engaging and fun. There is always a time and place for students to relax and have a laugh or two.”

“My mentors at SRC and our students provide feedback, views, and opinions that requires me to continually assess and improve my teaching methods to share my knowledge and love more effectively for the nursing profession. Nurses are encouraged to be life-long learners, and I am always learning something new because my students push me to improve just as much as I push them. I owe them the thanks for this award.”

Strode is currently working on her certification as a Certified Nurse Educator (CNE) and (CNE-CL), and was recently selected to serve on the Accreditation Commission of Education in Nursing (ACEN) review team for ACEN Standards and Criteria. She is also a member of the NEA (National Education Association), AORN (Association of periOperative Registered Nurses), NLN (National League for Nursing) and ANA (American Nurses Association).  She lives in Canton with her husband Brian and their two daughters, Natalie and Payton.

Sarah Strode