Texas A & M College of Dentistry
MEET THE 2022 TEACHERS OF THE YEAR by Caleb Vierkant
The Dental and Dental Hygiene Teacher of the Year Awards are presented annually by the Texas A & M College of Dentistry Alumni Association and selected by the college ’ s student body . Dental Teacher of the Year Award recipient is Dr . Joel Karns and the Dental Hygiene Teacher of the Year Award recipient is Jane Cotter , RDH .
Dr . Joel Karns
“ I decided to go into dentistry when I broke my front teeth and saw what a difference dentistry could make ,” Dr . Joel Karns says .
Now Karns is making a difference with Texas A & M College of Dentistry students at many levels . He is a clinical assistant professor in the preclinical , removable and fixed prosthodontics labs and also provides clinical instruction to third- and fourth-year dental students . He has been a full-time faculty member for the last three years after serving on the faculty part time since 2007 .
Karns finds his work with dental students to be the most rewarding time of his career , as he has been able to share his experience and knowledge of practical dentistry with future dentists . He graduated near the top of his class from what was then known as Texas A & M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry in 2000 , when he received the honor of Odontological Honor Society membership . He then practiced dentistry in Rowlett , Texas , for over 20 years before retiring and moving into teaching full time .
Throughout his career , Karns has had the opportunity to serve the community in patient care , volunteer work , professional presentations and collaboration with dental laboratories in education . He volunteers with Mission Arlington once a month ,
where he supervises third- and fourth-year students providing free general dentistry for patients with limited funds .
He enjoys spending time with his wife , Tiffany , and his 15-yearold daughter , Caroline . In his spare time , he collects Marvel comics , rides his motorcycle , and works on creative projects around the house .
Karns offers some words of wisdom for students pursuing dental careers of their own : “ I would advise my future colleagues to cherish their relationships with their patients and never be above anyone or anything ,” he says .
Jane C . Cotter , RDH
“ My favorite thing about teaching is when you see students reach their full potential , and that sense of accomplishment they feel when they realize they have made it ,” Jane Cotter , RDH , says .
Cotter began her career 30 years ago as a registered dental hygienist in private practice . She earned a master ’ s degree in Dental Hygiene Education from Texas A & M in 2009 and joined the Caruth School of Dental Hygiene faculty . She has authored and co-authored book chapters in multiple editions of Clinical Practice of the Dental Hygienist and continues to publish in peer reviewed journals .
Cotter played a key role in the design and development of the dental clinic at Baylor University Medical Center ’ s Charles A . Sammons Outpatient Cancer Center . In 2011 , she began serving as the clinic ’ s dental hygienist and dental services coordinator . She also became a Mayo Clinic-certified tobacco treatment specialist to benefit thousands of oncology and transplant patients .
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