Faculty Spotlight: Wendy Rappazzo

Throughout her career, Wendy Rappazzo has demonstrated how much she cares about the success of each and every one of her students. As a professor of biology in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) division, she teaches Anatomy and Physiology 1 & 2 as well as Biology for Health Professionals. Some of the courses she teaches are required for acceptance into the College’s highly competitive nursing program. Wendy enjoys the long-lasting relationships and connections she develops with her students and knows she made the right career choice when former students reach out with cards or emails to let her know the impact she made in their lives.

Wendy goes beyond what is expected to ensure the academic success of her students. When she learns of challenges that her students are facing, she looks for ways to intervene. After noticing that some entry-level biology students were not prepared for the rigor of college-level courses, she incorporated planning and organizational activities into her lessons. Wendy created two classroom assignments, “How to Read a College Textbook” and “Interpreting and Evaluating Scientific Data,” tools to help prepare students for success in college. She also teaches life skills such as time management by having students keep a weekly calendar.

Because she is student-focused, Wendy is always looking for ways to make an impact on their lives. Concerned about providing access to materials for those on tight budgets, Wendy worked with a publisher to provide affordable laboratory manuals for her students. She co-wrote and published lab manuals for anatomy and physiology that use a case study approach to help enhance students’ comprehension through real-world scenarios. While many college textbooks cost over $100, the manual she co-wrote is available for less than $30; a digital version costs even less. She also collaborated with the HCC Library to secure anatomical models to increase student access to them and obtained division funding to purchase lab packages to provide students with free access to virtual physiology lab experiments. In addition, when she realized that some students were not comfortable coming for help during office hours, she researched options and learned about an app called “Remind” that she uses with those in her class. The app allows students to text her with their questions 24/7. This past spring semester in response to college closings due to weather, she held a “practical and pizza” open lab study time on a Sunday afternoon.

Wendy has a blended family that includes five children and two grandchildren. Her family life has helped prepare her to deal with frustrated students who are ready to give up when they don’t do well on a test or assignment. She reminds them that no one is perfect and helps them to stay focused on their goals: “I tell them that every struggle is an opportunity to learn.”

Wendy’s College service includes involvement in the leadership of such campus committees as Achieving the Dream (ATD) and Team One Strategic Planning committees. This year, she attended an ATD conference in California where she learned about improving students’ growth mindsets to help increase their perseverance and grit. Wendy said, “I am grateful to have the opportunity to travel to attend the ATD conference. It was a terrific experience to learn more about best practices and to hear students’ success stories.” She shared the information at an April division meeting and hopes to pilot a growth mindset intervention with her students. Changing student mindsets could increase retention and persistence so more students would leave college with a degree or certificate.

As chair of the Student Success Task Force of the Distance Learning Committee, Wendy was instrumental in creating the Student Success Blackboard course that teaches online students how to navigate Blackboard while also providing organizational and academic skills. Described as a pioneer in online learning, she created one of the first online biology course ever offered at HCC, Fundamentals of Biology, and the first hybrid (online lecture and face-to-face lab) Anatomy & Physiology course. She regularly reads and attends PD workshops to find new methods to keep students motivated and engaged.

A strong believer in collaboration and teamwork, Wendy serves as a dedicated mentor to A&P and BIO 119 adjunct and new faculty members. She is also a mentor for students in the S-STEM scholarship program and serves as faculty advisor to CRU (Campus Crusade for Christ).

She has been a member of the Human Anatomy and Physiology Society, largest society of teaching professionals in human anatomy and physiology disciplines, for 12+ years. Wendy serves on the curriculum and instruction workgroup where she helped write course learning outcomes for Anatomy & Physiology 1 and 2 courses taught at two and four-year institutions. She is currently helping to create and map learning activities to those outcomes.

A Quality Matters certified reviewer, she regularly reviews online courses. “I like doing this because it gives me a chance to see how other instructors organize and deliver online content. I always seek to learn and improve my teaching and delivery of materials.”

In addition, Wendy is a content expert in anatomy and physiology for Wiley and Pearson. She regularly reviews Pearson texts, labs, laboratory simulations, tutorials, and assessments. She’s written for both publishers, mainly writing case study-based scenarios and questions for their lab manuals and websites and is currently writing application and case study questions for a new lab manual and their online platform.

In the community, Wendy shares her expertise by teaching middle school chemistry and high school biology classes each week for Cornerstone Community Coop, a homeschool program. She also volunteered at the North Baltimore Wrestling Club.

Wendy has been recognized for her many contributions as a National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) Excellence Award recipient. Her publications have been recognized by the Scholarly & Creative Publications/Performances Committee at Harford.

A faculty member at Harford for 26 years, she earned a BS from the State University of New York (Cortland), an MS from the University of Delaware, and an MS from Towson University.

When she has some free time, Wendy enjoys fitness activities such as running and hiking, reading, and playing baseball with her son.

The College is proud to count Wendy as another faculty member who has shown long-term commitment and passion for her students’ success.