The California Community Colleges Board of Governors on Tuesday honored two professors and one academic counseling member with the prestigious 2020-21 Gerald C. Hayward Award for Excellence in Education. One of the professors, Dr. Peter “Tony” Zitko, a Solano College political science professor, is also an instructor at Napa Valley College (NVC).
Dr. Zitko along with Los Angeles Pierce College sociology professor A. James McKeever and Butte College counselor Brandy Thomas were chosen by representatives of the Academic Senate based on their record of outstanding achievement and participation on campus.
“Brandy Thomas, Peter Zitko and A. James McKeever epitomize the excellence of the California Community Colleges through their commitment to putting students first and their unwavering support of students from underrepresented and marginalized backgrounds,” said Board of Governors President Pamela Haynes.
Dr. Zitko, a lifelong Napa resident and a 2009 graduate of Napa Valley College, has been a part-time instructor at NVC since 2014, where he teaches political science including courses in American Government, Comparative Government, International Relations, Modern Political Ideology and International Political Economy.
Dr. Zitko is known for his dedication in providing a quality college education for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals, an endeavor that began as a novel teaching assignment but has grown into a lifelong mission and writing scholarly articles promoting greater educational resources to the largely disenfranchised group of learners. His dedication to students with diverse backgrounds, however, is not exclusive to educating the incarcerated.
“It has been my teaching and leadership model to treat all students fairly and equally irrespective of their unique experiences and backgrounds,” he said.
Dr. Zitko is currently working with NVC professor of English and Distance Education coordinator Cathy Gillis to provide Distance Education mentoring for NVC faculty.
“It’s a pleasure to work with Cathy, who has been one of the greatest inspirations in my academic venture,” said Zitko. “She was instrumental in my award as Phi Theta Kappa (the premier honor society recognizing the academic achievement of community college students) All-State Academic team (1st team) when I was a student at NVC. I often tell my students and peers how one person, one teacher, like Professor Gillis can change a person’s life.”
Dr. Zitko is one of those teachers.