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Laurier names outstanding teacher award recipients
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The Wilfrid Laurier University 2009 Awards for Teaching Excellence carry with them recognition and prestige, but perhaps just as importantly for the recipients they also bring accolades from colleagues and students.
There was no shortage of peer and student praise for this year’s award recipients: Dr. Bill McTeer in the full-time faculty category, professor John Stephens in the part-time category, and PhD candidate Lisa Funnell in the teaching assistant category.
Kinesiology and physical education professor Dr. Bill McTeer is respected by his colleagues both for his teaching and for launching the KPE department. McTeer’s small, interactive first-year classes have become a hallmark of the program and are credited with setting students up for success throughout their university years.
McTeer is known for his Organization & Administration in Physical Activity and Sport course, where his students create community athletic events. McTeer not only guides his students, he also spends many hours of his personal time attending their events.
“It is undeniable that Bill is dedicated to students, never stops teaching, and is an inspiration to both faculty and students as someone who is a consummate professional and is full of passion for teaching,” wrote Dr. Jill Tracey, assistant kinesiology and physical education professor in her nomination letter.
Many former students credit McTeer’s enthusiasm and guidance with giving them confidence.
“Yes, McTeer lectures, but one is so captivated by his charisma in the classroom that the lectures come to life and one cannot help but participate…energy fills the room because he embodies all the characteristics of a great teacher,” describes a fourth-year kinesiology and physical education student in her letter.
McTeer also received the 2008 Hoffmann-Little Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence from the Wilfrid Laurier University Alumni Association.
Part-time psychology professor John Stephens is known for peppering his lectures with real-life examples from his years working in private practice and his career as a school board behavioural consultant. It’s a successful technique that results in packed lecture halls and students who do their best not to miss his lectures.
“He constantly searches for innovative instructional techniques…and encourages students to become reflective learners who question what they have been taught and apply what they are learning to their own lives,” describes professor and chair of psychology Dr. Mark Pancer in his support letter.
Stephens is also admired for voluntarily serving as a thesis advisor, even though it is not required in his capacity as a part-time teacher.
“Mr. Stephens did a brilliant job in designing a (first-year psychology) course that was able to provide a holistic introduction to a deep psychological field, and he didn’t just skim the surface, he served clinical psychology justice in a 12-week course,” writes a fourth-year psychology student in her letter of support.
The English and film studies professors who nominated PhD candidate Lisa Funnell for the Teaching Assistant Award of excellence have each worked with more than 20 TAs in the past few years, yet each professor ranks Funnell as one of the very best.
“From high student evaluations to innovative teaching methods, from student mentorship to knowledge of her subject, Lisa is an outstanding teacher,” writes English and film studies associate professor Dr. Philippa Gates in her nomination. “Watching Lisa teach has definitely had an impact on my own teaching.”
English and film studies professor Dr. Paul Tiessen admires Funnell for “functioning as both a peer and authority figure,” while assistant professor Dr. Russell Kilbourn calls her teaching philosophy one of the best he’s ever read, and describes her as going to “extraordinary lengths to make difficult material accessible and to make the learning process as enjoyable and interesting as possible.”
Students respect not only her subject knowledge, but also the way she makes herself available for advice.
“It is one thing to teach, but it is quite another to teach in a way that earns the label of excellence,” reads a student’s letter of support. “And in my opinion, Lisa Funnell has most certainly proven herself worthy of such a title.”
Stephens and Funnell will receive their awards at Laurier’s Spring convocation in June; McTeer will receive his at the Fall convocation.
Lori Chalmers Morrison