Anatomy instructor Courtney Mayer got her start as an inspired student

Great Shawano school teachers inspired college instructor Courtney Mayer’s love of teaching.

Mayer, who recently joined NWTC's General Studies faculty, has known she wanted to become a teacher since elementary school. She attributes her love of the sciences to passionate teachers from her youth.

“I was blessed with such wonderful, caring teachers who helped cultivate the deep love I have of learning.... Honestly, if I could've made a career out of being a student, I would have. Being a teacher is about as close as you can get to that!”

Mayer, born and raised in Shawano, graduated from Shawano Community High School in 2008. In her senior year, she attended a General Anatomy and Physiology course that was offered at the high school via transcribed credit offered by NWTC. Transcribed credits are a dual credit offering for high school juniors and seniors that enable them to earn both college credits and credits toward high school graduation.

Mayer received her bachelor's degree in Biology from the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh in 2013. She then went on to obtain a master’s degree in Biology from UW – Oshkosh in 2017. While completing her master’s, Mayer taught her first anatomy course at NWTC Shawano as an adjunct instructor.

“I love that I am always learning as an instructor. After my first experience teaching in 2015, I quickly realized that teaching college science courses was what I wanted to pursue for a full-time career.”

In July 2019, Mayer was offered a full-time position as an Anatomy and Biology Instructor and NWTC Faculty member. Having started her college experience with an NWTC anatomy course in high school, Mayer says, “it feels as if I've come full circle in some respects by returning to where my college education began.”

Mayer says her favorite thing about being an instructor is helping her students by seeing them succeed in class and have a good experience. She shared her belief that “there is always some intrinsic value in learning new information, whether it is used now or later.”

Mayer also shared her love of a good challenge. “One of the greatest challenges I've encountered in teaching is finding ways to make material meaningful to everyone.  Every student has slightly different interests and it can be difficult to find common ground in the content that applies to each person.”

As a fairly new faculty member, Mayer had trouble transitioning to flexible learning when Wisconsin's Safer At Home measures were put in place. “Not having taught much in an online format prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it required a pretty quick learning curve on my part. The difficulty of moving classes online is compounded for lab science courses (like anatomy and biology) which normally require a more hands-on approach and are somewhat difficult courses under normal circumstances… Converting course materials into an online format that was still comprehensible for students was certainly a challenge, but it also allowed me to see opportunities for improving myself as an instructor.  It forced me to dissect my teaching materials and find new, creative ways to explain concepts that I hadn't used before.”

Heidi Thomas, Associate Dean of General Studies at NWTC, said she enjoys working with Mayer. “She asks great questions, provides her opinions and insights, and is simply a very pleasant human being to know. She may come across a bit shy and quiet, but in the classroom, she has a great presence and confidence.” Thomas praised Mayer’s ability to weather challenges with a smile. “Courtney’s ability to shift her mind and focus from one course to another is admirable. I appreciate her flexibility and willingness to teach in these multiple areas [Basic Anatomy, General A&P, Advanced A&P, and General Biology].”

Jeannie Otto, regional manager of NWTC Shawano and Oconto Falls centers, has known Mayer for about ten years and encouraged her to apply as an adjunct instructor after earning her degree. Students have told Otto they enjoy Mayer’s teaching, noting that “she makes learning content like science material so easy. She is easy to understand and breaks down complex concepts so the learner can build on each topic they understand.” Otto added that NWTC Shawano has seen students travel over an hour to take classes instructed by Mayer.

Mayer attributes much of her growth, professional and personal, to Jeanne Cronce. Cronce served as a teacher and administrator for the Shawano School District for many years, as well as a term as Shawano city mayor. Mayer said she feels an exceptional debt of gratitude to Cronce, whom she considers a friend and mentor. “She was someone who helped me find it in myself to become the person (and teacher) I was meant to be and continues to motivate and support me to this day.”

Cronce shared similar praise for Mayer. “Courtney has been a blessing in my life and the daughter that I never had. She has developed high standards for herself and is highly motivated to always work to her highest potential. As a teacher she focuses on her students, their needs, and helps them achieve success. I am extremely proud of the woman and teacher she has become.”

Mayer shared her experience at NWTC as a positive one, focusing on the constant development that is expected and fostered in NWTC staff and faculty. “Something I love about working for NWTC is the ‘growth’ mindset that is behind everything we do.  The goal is always to keep getting better - better for ourselves as instructors and, therefore, better for our students. NWTC provides so many useful professional development opportunities that have really improved the quality of my teaching over the years.”

If you have a passion for teaching or are an expert in your field and are looking for a change, NWTC is looking for individuals to inspire students and transform lives. Whether you're ready to start teaching now, or you've never considered the educational profession, please reach out to Dawn Rentmeester in NWTC’s Human Resources department at 920-498-6932 or You can also visit to learn more about becoming a NWTC faculty member.