Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence

Antoinette Castillo, Rose State College

2017 Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching at a Regional University/Community College

Antoinette Castillo, the recipient of the Oklahoma Medal for Excellence in Teaching at a Regional University/Community College, is a professor of humanities and writing program administrator at Rose State College.

“Most students come to community colleges wanting to gain a greater degree of economic freedom by learning skills to get a better job,” said Castillo, who teaches courses in writing composition and philosophy. “My mission is to help them gain that economic freedom, but ultimately it is to help them gain much, much greater freedom: the freedom that comes from knowledge and ideas.”  

In her classroom, Castillo seeks to create an environment in which students interact with the knowledge she brings, with one another and with their pre-conceived ideas to create a new understanding of the world and themselves. She uses videos, books, films and images as a springboard to help students build a deeper relationship with material. She has organized field trips to the campus physics lab and a local Buddhist monastery so students could gain added perspectives on metaphysics and Buddhist philosophy.

Former student Elizabeth Tabak said Castillo assigns reflective journals to her philosophy students to help connect concepts to their own lives. “The journals taught me more than the class material. They taught me about myself and showed me I had the strength and courage to make changes in my life I had long feared making,” Tabak said.

Castillo’s commitment to students is evident across the campus, where she volunteers to advise and mentor many student populations, from first-generation and honors students to those with physical or learning disabilities. She is a co-founder and volunteer for CLICK (Community Learning in Critical Knowledge) Team, which provides faculty mentoring and academic support for at-risk students. She helped organize and volunteers weekly to teach free English-as-a-Second-Language workshops for students at Rose State and the community at large. In addition, Castillo collaborated with English faculty members and departments across campus to re-design Rose State’s writing instruction and developed on-line writing course materials to help students save money on textbooks.

“Professor Castillo has a servant’s heart and a scholar’s mind,” said Humanities Dean Claudia Buckmaster. “She is driven to help our students find success regardless of impediments created by their backgrounds or circumstances.”