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Kirkwood dental tech instructor named national Educator of the Year

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A successful college program leader is getting national recognition for her contributions to her field. Betty Mitchell, Kirkwood’s Dental Technology program director, was named the National Association of Dental Laboratories Educator of the Year at a ceremony in January.

The NADL annually recognizes individuals and companies who have made contributions to NADL and the dental laboratory profession. NADL members are invited to nominate a person, laboratory or company they believe deserved to be recognized by their colleagues.

“Betty has been a tremendous leader in the dental technology field and an asset to Kirkwood’s program,” said Allied Health Dean Nancy Glab. “It’s very clear Betty is most deserving of this honor, for the number of high-quality graduates who have come through her program, and the countless hours she’s given back to the profession.”

Mitchell is the past-president of the Iowa Dental Laboratory Association. She’s also served in roles as a curriculum advisor and commission representative for Commission on Dental Accreditation site visits, a member of the CODA’s review committee, the educator representative on the NADL board and has served on the advisory committee for the National Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped.

Mitchell said it was her involvement in both state and national associations with the dental technology community that contributed to her recent honor. Part of her nomination included recommendations from peers in the field and graduates of Kirkwood’s Dental Technology program. She said she’s honored to receive the award, but looks at it as being a product of the support of other faculty members, staff and administrators she’s received at Kirkwood.

“This isn’t an award just for me,” said Mitchell. “It’s for everyone at Kirkwood and the dental technology community in the support given to this program. Years ago we experienced some low enrollment counts. Now we have maximized our laboratory facilities by running both day and evening labs to better meet the needs of the community. The success of this program and its students does my heart good.”

Since Kirkwood is the only ADA accredited institution in the Midwest, and one of just 19 across the country, Mitchell said typical graduates will have at least three job offers. She said there are around 15-20 dental laboratories, manufacturers or dental offices looking to hire dental technicians annually in Iowa, and without other accredited programs around, offers come from surrounding states as well.

Dental technicians combine science, art and technology to make dentures, and gold and porcelain crowns. Their role is to recreate a tooth or teeth, to make them as natural looking as possible. Kirkwood’s Dental Technology program is a two-year Associate of Applied Science degree.

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