Colby Community College art instructor Rebel Mahieu is the recipient of the 2017 Tangeman Award for Teaching Excellence. The announcement was made during CCC commencement activities on May 12.

The award is named after the school’s second president, Dr. James Tangeman, and was established in 1988 to recognize the outstanding teacher of the year. A committee of previous recipients and CCC students selected Mahieu.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Brad Bennett presented the award.

“Throughout her career at CCC, Rebel has done an excellent job of combining creativity with higher education,” he said. “She has contributed immeasurably to the college and the community.”

Mahieu’s career at the college began in 2008. Prior to entering postsecondary education, she taught art in the Russell school district. A native of Glen Elder, she earned a bachelor’s degree in art education and a master’s degree in sculpture from Fort Hays State University.

Her activity at CCC blends with community engagement. The CCC Art Club sponsors a variety of activities that are open to the public, such as the annual art walk. Students and community members also participate in Studio Friday, an event that features a different artist the first Friday of each month. 

New last September was the Thirty Thursday art show, where Mahieu says visitors can “quench their culture.” On the third Thursday of each month, works of artists from other geographical areas, colleges and universities are displayed in the renovated gallery of the Cultural Arts Center.

Mahieu enjoys her profession because she anticipates something new every time she walks into a class.

“I never know what I’m getting into because I don’t put a limit on what students can try,” she said. “No two students are the same.”

Another component of her philosophy is helping students explore multiple options to solve problems.

“I try to teach students how to use certain materials after they graduate. At universities or in life they can’t always access kilns, foundries and other tools. So we try to use things at home to have the same outcome.”

By being active in the studio with her students, Mahieu believes education is reciprocal.

“I learn just as much from them as they do from me. It’s not just about what the teacher knows. It’s about the process. I’m constantly asking, ‘What combination can I do to express myself? What can we discover today?’”