Celebrate our 2019 Instructional Excellence Award winners

Our instructors go the extra mile for our students! Meet this year's winners and hear why their students nominated them for the award.

Published on October 23, 2019

This year’s student-nominated Instructional Excellence Awards have been awarded to 6 deserving NAIT instructors.

This spring, students nominated 23 nominees for the award. The Instructional Excellence Committee evaluated nominations—along with supporting information submitted by the instructors and their peers—and recommended the winners to NAIT's Academic Council.

To Sue Fitzsimmons, vice-president academic and provost, the award speaks volumes about the outstanding education NAIT provides.

“Our students continue to tell us about their overwhelmingly positive learning experiences and this makes me so proud,” Sue says. “Congratulations to this year’s winners and thank you to the many brilliant instructors who have such a meaningful impact on the success of their students.”  

Natasja Saranchuk, manager of Teaching Services and chair of the Instructional Excellence Committee, says this year’s student submissions not only illustrate the deep knowledge and expertise our instructors bring to their students, but also how they keep them engaged using incredibly innovative methods.  

“This shows exceptional teaching and we can see the impact this has enhancing the learning experience of their students,” says Natasja.

Meet the 2019 Instructional Excellence Award winners

Lamya Asiff
Lamya Asiff, 
Radio and Television

Lamya’s students describe her as a caring and approachable teacher who is passionate about seeing them succeed – both in the classroom and after they graduate.

“She consistently checks up on how we’re doing in class, asking how she can help us improve in her classes,” describes one student. “She encourages us to set up goals and creates a list of expectations for us to follow in class and then take into our careers.”

Helping students improve their writing and encouraging them to consider new perspectives on issues is very rewarding to Lamya. Sharing her love for what she teaches is one of the highlights and she says she always enjoys seeing students “walk into class with smiles on their faces, excited for what we’re learning that day.”

Nathan DevriesNathan Devries, Mechanical Engineering Technology

Nathan’s enthusiasm makes him an outstanding instructor. “I love the material we get to teach,” he says. “I get downright giddy in class when I get to tell stories about the cool things I have seen and experienced in my career.”

Nathan’s students appreciate his excitement and say it’s contagious. “He constantly inspires us to go further and to think deeper,” said one student. “He is as passionate about teaching as he is about the material he teaches.”

Students feel genuinely supported by Nathan, who’s been nominated for an Instructional Excellence award once before. His nominators appreciate his dedication to their success, saying that he is “seriously invested in our well-being” and “always available to help, no matter what.”

Janet MacDonaldJanet MacDonald, Magnetic Resonance

Janet’s students value her supportive and empathetic approach. They appreciate the effort she always makes to spend time with them individually, whether it’s just to check in or to provide the extra help they need.

“She understands that everybody learns differently and uses different techniques to respond to individual needs,” is how one student described Janet.

Her students say Janet’s classes keep them engaged by encouraging discussion and participation. While Janet says she continues to learn how to make the learning more interactive, she is pleased with the positive environment she’s helped create.

“I am so glad my classroom turned out to be a place where students can feel free to be creative and share how they learn,” Janet says.

Wendy PopowichWendy Popowich, Business Administration – Accounting

The accounting class Wendy teaches is notoriously challenging. But her students say she is patient and supports them by making course concepts easy to understand.

“She has clear expectations of the students,” describes one student. “Her ability to communicate these expectations to the students in a respectful and professional manner is a gift. It’s a joy to be in her class.”

Wendy, who has been nominated for an Instructional Excellence award once before, says she strives to make the course as applicable as possible. At the end of every chapter, she asks students to apply what they have learned to real-life scenarios.

“When I go through these questions, there is a noticeable change in the mood of the room,” Wendy says. “Because they can relate to the example, they are more interested and engaged.”

Hilary SchmidtHilary Schmidt, Medical Transcription

Hilary, a previous 2-time Instructional Excellence nominee, enjoys seeing her students realize they are more capable than they once thought.

“There are few things more rewarding as an instructor than having a student say for the first time, ‘I can do it!’,” Hilary says. “I love to see the pride on their faces.”

Her students reflect on the many ways Hilary makes them feel welcome and how she is always compassionate, recognizing the individual challenges her students face. How she treats her students is incredibly uplifting to them.

“Her encouragement has been an incredible motivator for me,” describes one student. “Every day I am greeted with a wonderful smile and I am happy to be sitting in class with someone who makes me feel like I matter.”

Craig StockdaleCraig Stockdale, Industrial Heavy Equipment Technology

According to his students, Craig is an instructor who makes learning a joy.

“[His humour] entertains the class while simultaneously creating an environment of enthusiastic, active learning,” one student wrote in Craig’s nomination. “He has an amazing rapport with our entire class.”

His students appreciate how Craig’s teaching suits all types of learning styles, saying he uses vivid stories and diagrams to answer their questions. They say he is helpful and patient, taking the time to make sure his students have what they need to do well.

Craig says that, to him, the most gratifying part of teaching “is seeing the students succeed when they leave at the end of the course and hearing their stories after moving on from NAIT.”

Congratulations Lamya, Nathan, Janet, Wendy, Hilary and Craig!

The winners will be honoured at our annual Long Service and Employee Recognition Awards ceremony in January 2020, alongside recipients of our SHINE Awards, the Ernest Manning Leadership Medallion, Faculty Emeritus, and our retirees and colleagues celebrating long service milestones.

Group Photo (L to R): Sue Fitzsimmons, Nathan Devries, Janet MacDonald, Craig Stockdale, Lamya Asiff, Wendy Popowich, Hilary Schmidt

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