LaWanda Franks, right, and Kay Frieze, left, tied for Online Instructor of the Year.

Tying for first place with an equal number of rave reviews from students, LaWanda Franks, right, and Kay Frieze, left, earned the College of the Mainland Online Teacher of the Year Award.

“I feel Ms. Frieze goes above and beyond in making sure I succeed. If I have problems and send her an email, she responds within that hour," one student enthused on the voting form.

Another student praised Franks, who teaches Psychology for Success, a required course for all COM students revealing the habits and attitudes needed for success in college.

“The words of encouragement and the reminders that (Psychology for Success instructor LaWanda Franks) so kindly takes the time to send, many on weekends, are very helpful and sometimes come at just the right moment when you need a ‘pick-me-up.’ She is a true inspiration to us to be a success in every aspect of life.”

Beginning her teaching career at COM in 2009 after interning at the college, Franks tailors her virtual courses for online students using discussion boards, videos and real-life activities.

“I give more encouragement and a lot more guidance when I give assignments back because I don’t have face-to-face contact,” said Franks.

Students’ comments in the online voting process impressed Pam Millsap, COM dean of general education programs, who supervised Franks as an intern.  

“Psych 1300 is a very challenging course to translate online. The fact that she can have such an impact on students in an online environment is a testament to her care for students and their success,” Millsap said.

Frieze’s Medical Terminology course lays the foundation for all COM health care programs including the health information management and nursing programs. With a master’s in health care administration and service as director of health information management at Mainland Medical for 11 years, Frieze brings a wealth of experience and real-world knowledge to the classroom.

“She jumped in with both feet to online education,” said dean of public service careers Carla Anderson. “She goes above and beyond and has a variety of teaching styles targeting older students and younger students. Kay is very geared to students’ success.”

At the OnWards Awards ceremony, college administrators also recognized instructors whose courses received an exemplary rating. Instructors earned the score after a vigorous review process examining criteria including course organization and design, use of technology and learner support.

Honorees included Jim Hackett, Stacey Burleson, Siromi Wijesinghe, Bruce Glover, Chris Walding, Janis Cutaia, Kirk McVey, Gerselda Bourgeois, Qing Li, Sean Skipworth, Gary Wilson, Candi Hollier and Rafael Naranjo.

To browse COM online courses in business, health care, foreign language and more, visit