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Professors John Tenuto and Lamaiya Lancaster named Outstanding Faculty

by Public Relations and Marketing | Published Apr 23, 2020

College of Lake County students voted sociology professor John Tenuto and adjunct dance instructor Lamaiya Lancaster the 2020 Outstanding Full-time and Outstanding Part-time Faculty of the Year, respectively.  

Since he started teaching at CLC in 1998, Tenuto has been nominated 20 times for the award and received it in 2014, 2013 and 2005. He holds B.A. and M.A. degrees in sociology from DePaul University and an humanities/humanistic studies from Tiffin University. Photos of professors John Tenuto and Lamaiya Lancaster

“I cannot imagine a better award for a teacher to receive than one given by students,” Tenuto said. “The award symbolizes that students find value in the ideas, examples and advice I share with them in class. That is everything to me. The award also motivates me to continue trying as I start my 25th year as a teacher, to keep endeavoring to make those connections with students.” 

To reach new generations, Tenuto said he continuously adapts his methods to meet students where they are. “On some days, I lecture or hold discussions and debates, and on other days, I use popular-culture examples from films, television shows, video games or music that students enjoy,” he said. “Using relevant popular culture helps me teach students about new or not-yet-familiar concepts. They may not know Durkheim or Goffman's theories yet, but if I can use Marvel movies or “Star Wars” as an illustration, the students stand on firmer ground and move more quickly to an understanding of the material.” 

Lancaster, a CLC alumna who teaches dance techniques including hip hop, modern, jazz and tap as well as Zumba, said she is “so very honored” to receive the award. “I am dedicated to promoting inclusion through community engagement in the art of dance, and I believe this begins with the work I do with my students,” said Lancaster. Citing examples, she explained that she and her students have participated in the Waukegan Arts Council’s annual Lake County Dance Showcase and have partnered with community organizations to offer free dance workshops. 

Besides actual dancing in a studio, Lancaster said she engages students through lectures, videos, discussions and reflections. She earned an A.A. degree, with a concentration in dance performance and choreography from CLC in 2004. She went on to receive a B.A. in cultural studies from Columbia College and two master’s degrees from Ball State University, one in adult and community education, with a concentration in dance and community engagement, and another in executive development for public service. She also completed CLC’s yoga teaching certification program in 2019 and is a certified Zumba instructor. 

Lancaster, who took several sociology courses taught by Tenuto, said he was a “very influential” professor during her CLC years. “Engaging in courses that dealt with issues and concepts of culture, society and sociology—and how they are reflected in our popular culture—was a large influence in my decision to major in cultural studies at Columbia,” she said. 

Due to COVID-19, the two professors were recognized virtually, rather than the customary, in-person recognition, at the April 21 meeting for the CLC Board of Trustees. 


About College of Lake County: 

The College of Lake County is a comprehensive community college committed to equitable high-quality education, cultural enrichment and partnerships to advance the diverse communities it serves in northeastern Illinois. Offered at three campuses in Grayslake, Vernon Hills and Waukegan or online, college classes are affordable and accessible to help each student achieve academic, career and personal goals. More than 70,000 students graduated with degrees and certificates since the college opened in 1969. The College of Lake County is the only higher-education institution ranked among the top 15 best places to work in Illinois by Forbes and is a national leader in many areas, including sustainability and conservation.