The Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University has announced the recipients of its annual Outstanding Teacher Award for this academic year.
Susan Braidi (foreign languages), Adam Komisaruk (English), Julie Hicks Patrick (psychology), William Taft (humanities) and Jaime Toro (geology and geography) will be honored at the colleges annual Honors and Recognition Ceremony and Brunch during the Universitys Weekend of Honors celebration in April.
Dr. Braidis teaching responsibilities include undergraduate and graduate courses in linguistics and teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL). Her effectiveness as a teacher is marked by her ability to challenge students in relevant and meaningful ways. To that end, she has developed six new courses at WVU . She is an active participant in the West Virginia Foreign Language TeachersAssociation as well as regional and national TESOL groups.
I believe that good teachers are good learners. We learn about a wide variety of topics: the changing content of our courses, the changing characteristics of our students, new ways to be more effective and more challenging, and mostly new insights into ourselves,Braidi said.
Dr. Komisaruk is regarded by his students and colleagues as a challenging, energetic, versatile and creative teacher. His teaching is strongly interdisciplinary in nature. His literature courses are governed by a metaphor of the cycle or spiral rather than the straight line of chronology, situating texts in the socio political debates not only in their day but also of more recent vintage.
Since visual stimuli saturate our culture, for instance, the visual arts can afford students more comfortable passage to the comparatively unnatural act of close reading,Komisaruk said.
Dr. Patrick, an authority on human cognition, knows that students are apt to remember information that is interesting and/or personally relevant. Hands on and problem based learning are useful ways to increase the personal relevance for students. She uses everyday terms to talk about complex psychological theories.
Ironically, she notes, her graduate advisor once criticized her fornot talking like a psychologist.She still thinks of that as a compliment.Education should not separate people at the level of interpersonal communication. In fact, those of us who are fortunate enough to attend and do well in a formal education system may have stronger obligations than others to build bridges among people,she said.
Dr. Taft began teaching Humanities 101, Introduction to Western Civilization 1, and Humanities 102, Introduction to Western Civilization 2, at WVU in 1992. Prior to that he taught at Morgantown High School for 13 years where he developed and directed a gifted and talented program that received national and international attention. He is honestly and infectiously enthusiastic during lectures, even during the fourth one of the day. His lectures are filled with anecdotes and personal stories that point to application of the texts towards self understanding.
Student Ryan Shiffbauer said,Dr. Taft draws you into his world. He entices you into learning by carrot not stick, and you find yourself seeking to learn more without ever feeling that you were coerced into it by fear of bad grades or a surly reprimand. Dr. Taft is committed to giving his students the tools to live their lives more thoughtfully, more deliberately, and perhaps even a little more aesthetically.
By virtue of having worked in diverse projects both in academia and industry, Dr. Toro has acquired a broad range of expertise as a structural geologist. Toro has brought to WVU a teaching philosophy firmly anchored in seven words: Learning geology is not a spectator sport. In addition to teaching classes, Toro advises graduate students doing research related to structural geology, tectonics, petroleum geology and geophysics.
My first priority as a teacher is to motivate the students to learn. This can only happen if the classroom is a positive environment and if I am myself engaged with the class and genuinely interested in the material,Toro said.
The competition for the Eberly College Outstanding Teacher Award is held annually and recommendations for award recipients are made by a committee of students and faculty. Eligible faculty are nominated by students and colleagues.