BY: JODI STASSEN, DEAN OF HEALTH, NURSING & PUBLIC SERVICES
What is excellence? According to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of being excellent is “very good of its kind”. Here at Northland Community & Technical College, we are fortunate to have an educator who lives up to that very definition and who was recently recognized for being an excellent teacher. Dr. Justin Berry, an instructor in the Physical Therapist Assistant program, was recently presented with the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Teaching.
The educational experiences that Justin works to provide to students here at Northland are phenomenal. He truly embodies excellence in education; Justin is a tremendous educator and caring mentor of students at Northland. Justin sincerely cares about students and their success, not just during their time within the PTA program, but often staying in touch with them long after graduation. Justin works tirelessly to develop a strong rapport with all of his students and ensures that he is available when needed by the student, he can often be found in the PTA lab helping students to review course material.
He is dedicated to continuous professional development in the field of physical therapy education. He attends numerous state and national PTA conferences and encourages ongoing professional development on the part of his students. For several years, PTA students have participated in research with Justin and for the last three years these students have been able to present their research findings at one of the largest physical therapy conference’s in the country! This is very rare at the two-year level, and Justin plays a big role in making it happen.
In addition to teaching in the PTA program, Justin also serves as the Program Director. He took on this role in 2006 and was responsible for developing the PTA program, with the program obtaining initial accreditation in 2009. During the PTA Program’s last accreditation cycle in 2014, with Justin’s leadership the program received a rare “clean report”, being found in compliance with all accreditation criteria! Justin serves as a PTA accreditation site reviewer and is also engaged in various other professional development opportunities, including frequent presenting at state and national physical therapy conferences; and publishing research within the field of physical therapy
Justin himself is a lifelong learner; he earned his A.A.S in Physical Therapist Assisting in 1996, a Master of Physical Therapy in 2000, and a Doctor of Physical Therapy in 2005. After starting at Northland, Justin wanted to ensure he had the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in his position, so he obtained a Master of Science in Education in 2008 and he is currently pursuing his PhD in Higher Education, with graduation expected later this year. Justin embodies the definition of excellence in education and we are extremely fortunate to call him an educator at Northland.