2012 Faculty Emeritus and Instructional Excellence Awards winners announced
At the Convocation dinner on May 3, NAIT celebrated excellence in teaching by awarding the Faculty Emeritus and Instructional Excellence Awards.
“It makes me extremely proud to recognize these outstanding instructors for their contributions,” says Dr. Paula Burns. “But even more satisfying is knowing that each one was chosen by those that most directly benefit from their efforts – the students.”
Below, you’ll find the bio of David Odegard, recipient of the 2012 Faculty Emeritus, an honorary title that NAIT has awarded since 2007 to retired faculty in recognition of their record of service. Recipients are recommended by a subcommittee of Academic Council, which then meets to approve recipients for this designation.
You’ll also find each of each of the 2012 Instructional Excellence Award winners. Since 1999, NAIT has recognized excellence in teaching with this award. Instructors are nominated by their students and evaluated by a committee of representatives from across the institute according to, in part, the seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education outlined by Art Chickering and Zelda Gamson. Among those are ensuring student access to staff, prompt feedback and communicating high expectations. This year's winners are (click on the names to read their full bios):
2012 Faculty Emeritus
David D. Odegard
David has been involved with the Biological Sciences program almost from the very beginning, first enrolling as a student in 1969 and graduating with honours in 1971. Upon graduation, he was hired by the program as an educational laboratory technician, a job he held for three years.
In 1974, David began his career as a Biological Sciences instructor. Over the 30 years that followed, he estimates he taught more than 25 different courses to more than 2,000 students. Always an innovator, David constantly adapts courses and methods in response to changes in industry trends.
David naturally progressed into leadership, becoming assistant chair in 1996 and chair of the program in 1998. In that role he was instrumental in establishing the Health, Safety and Environmental Technician program – the precursor of today’s Occupational Health and Safety diploma.
In 2004, David led the successful accreditation of the Renewable Resources program with the North American Wildlife Technology Association. As a goal-oriented leader, he was highly supportive of NAIT’s goals and enjoyed leading staff and students in NAIT’s key directions.
“The best thing about NAIT was the fact that the students were always enjoyable and fun to work with,” David says. “The years went fast because it was an outstanding place to work. Great staff, great students.”
While at NAIT, David was part of numerous committees and councils, including several years with the NAIT Academic Staff Association as a Health Sciences representative and academic vice president. He also chaired the NAIT Animal Care Committee for many years and served as the community representative on a similar committee at the University of Alberta.
Even after retirement, David has continued to teach in the Biological Sciences program as a sessional instructor. He also enjoys tending an award-winning garden in St. Albert with his wife Penny, in addition to woodworking, model engineering and painting with watercolours.
Instructional Excellence Awards
School of Information Communication and Engineering Technology
If you’ve ever wondered what image you might use to capture the spirit of teaching excellence, it might be a ring of keys as a symbol for opening doors to possibility. That image certainly describes how Claudia Calin opens doors for her students.
Claudia does this by exemplifying the qualities she knows her students will need most to meet their biggest opportunities. Her own academic accomplishments, including two master's degrees and a doctorate in applied mathematics, stand as an example. But most importantly, it’s how she applies her knowledge in a climate of openness that best defines her.
Claudia’s students recommended her for this award based on their experiences in her statistics and mathematics courses and from the tutorial sessions she enthusiastically opens up to all students, not just those registered in her courses. Her students say that she demands that they grow, and then makes sure it happens, teaching them to land on their feet by working hard and committing to a goal.
Kouloud (Claudia) Elsayed
Department of Continuing Education
On any given day, Kouloud (Claudia) Elsayed can find herself in front of a roomful of students from around the world. Each has a goal to learn to speak English. And each of them approaches it with a unique cultural background – and varying familiarity with the language.
Claudia has learned to embrace the challenge that can present. “She takes care of the individual needs of all students even though [they are] all different,” says one of her students. While she carefully covers the basics of grammar and spelling, Claudia has a reputation for making learning comfortable and fun, using real-world conversation and storytelling as teaching tools.
“I have spent my entire career in search of teaching excellence,” says Claudia, who began her career as an instructor at the American Lebanese Institute of English.
During her years in the classroom, she has identified several elements for student success, chief among them cooperation and creating an atmosphere in which students feel acknowledged and respected. The impact of those practices has been obvious and profound.
“I think she is the best English teacher I have ever known,” says another student.
Business Administration – Finance
JR Shaw School of Business
Luigi Figliuzzi’s teaching is influenced by a desire to help students develop both inside and outside the classroom. His starting point is to help students feel comfortable in their environment. He also recognizes that they will have challenges and makes sure they know he’s available for extra support.
In terms of instruction, Luigi works to incorporate group projects whenever possible as he believes that they more accurately reflect the workplaces his students will soon enter. He recognizes the range of learning styles and works hard to bring hands-on, non-traditional exercises into the classroom.
Students report that “he provides the greatest respect not just to students, but to the questions they ask, both in and out of class.” They agree that the best thing about Luigi is “that he really connects with each and every one of us in some way.”
Business Administration – Accounting
JR Shaw School of Business
James Guthrie sees his role as a coach and mentor, and feedback from his students indicates that’s how they view him. They note his support as the founding faculty advisor of the student group Business Connex, a networking club that connects students with each other, the community and industry leaders.
His students value the career advice he provides and the individual attention he offers, including creating additional practice materials. “I have several pages of hand-written questions that James has given me over the years,” says one student.
Students note his famous way of introducing a topic with anecdotes and how he’s able to tie his own work experiences into lessons, demonstrating their relevance to the real world.
After he started teaching at NAIT 10 years ago, James completed a master’s in education and is now pursuing his doctorate in business administration. “I do not wish to simply teach leadership, but to model the way, both in and especially outside the classroom,” he says.
Combined Laboratory and X-ray Technology
School of Health Sciences
Renae Kassehi feels feedback is essential for an instructor and regularly seeks personal feedback from students in order to better tailor her teaching methods to their learning needs. “I wouldn’t be the instructor I am now were it not for the profound insights students have chosen to share with me,” she says.
Renae accommodates different learning styles by teaching with multiple forms of media, including visual displays, X-ray images, models of human bones and interactive games.
“Each student has unique experiences and unique ways of learning. I feel that it is my role as an instructor to discover what each student needs and create a learning environment where each student is empowered to succeed in the way that they feel is personally fulfilling.”
Students say Renae is “dedicated to providing quality care to her students and that her students, once out in the field, can provide quality care themselves.”
Also, students appreciate Renae’s genuine interest in their well-being. “Providing holistic support for a student’s learning requires acknowledging their life outside of school and supplying them with the resources they need to be successful,” says Renae.
Power Engineering Technology – Fourth Class
School of Sustainable Building and Environmental Management
One of Keith Munro’s students offered this quote to describe his teacher’s approach: “A Chinese sage once said, There is a sublime form of thieving in the act of teaching; a man gives us what he knows, and without us knowing, an infinite part of us becomes his.”
This astute student is offering a description of both mentorship and citizenship – which is what teaching excellence is about.
It also perfectly describes Keith, who has been repeatedly commended for taking time to get to know each of his students, for offering them the benefit of his own experience – in and out of the classroom – for helping to make them better at their studies and, simultaneously, better at life.
These lasting lessons include modelling deep respect for one another and seeing the opportunity in diversity. Keith sets the bar high, and shows his students that the only way to clear that bar is through hard work.
With 100 per cent of Keith’s students offering their support as co-nominators for his award, we are assured that the Chinese sage was right.
School of Trades
Landon Paquet places as strong an emphasis on professionalism as he does on the practice of welding itself. For him, punctuality and safety rank amongst the hallmarks of success.
“He reminds us that treating our apprenticeship at NAIT like a real job will foster good habits when we enter the workforce,” says student Jason Ford.
That’s just part of how Landon readies his students for life beyond the welding lab. They admire his craftsmanship, as well as his attentiveness and patience.
“As a result,” says Ford, “he provides the entire class with an example of what to strive for.”
His students feel he is approachable and respectful. They feel that he has their best interests at heart and that their career goals are important to him.
Part of Landon’s approach involves as much one-on-one attention as possible. He makes himself accessible outside the classroom and returns grades quickly, recalling how much he appreciated this as a student. Overall, Landon recognizes the importance of his task in supplying industry with skilled welders.
“I always let them know that the more they want to know, the more I can teach them,” he says.
Emergency Medical Technology – Paramedic
School of Health Sciences
As a first-year instructor, Seth exhibits a passion and drive that students and fellow instructors find hard to ignore. Students note that he takes the time to ensure they understand course materials, something he demonstrates inside and outside the classroom.
After class – and even on weekends – Seth can be found reviewing difficult concepts with students, catching up those who’ve missed class and hosting review sessions prior to exams.
That is, of course, when he’s not prepping for class, something that takes up a lot of this new instructor’s time, especially as he focuses on how to meet individual learning styles and finding new ways to encourage collaboration among students. For example, Seth emphasizes group work, even during lectures. He’s open to feedback and adapts as required.
His efforts, as this award attests, don’t go unnoticed. “He spends countless hours creating learning tools for us and making sure we understand what we are meant to,” says one student.