PBSC professors recognized at national conference for excellence in teaching

Professor Christopher Schmersahl and Dr. Sankaranarayana Chandramohan are among the 2015 National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Excellence Award recipients.

Two Palm Beach State College professors, including one who created an interactive e-book to help students master the concepts taught in their anatomy lab, were recently recognized at a national conference for community college faculty, staff and administrators.

Dr. Sankaranarayana Chandramohan, who teaches science at the Lake Worth campus, and Professor Christopher Schmersahl, who teaches English at the Belle Glade campus, were chosen by College administrators from among 320 full-time faculty members to represent PBSC at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development annual International Conference on Teaching and Leadership May 25-28 in Austin, Texas. Faculty, staff and administrators nominated by their respective institutions received an Excellence Award during the conference.

PBSC administrators reviewed 10 recommendations from throughout the College. “We looked at people who were very strong in teaching and innovative in their teaching style,’’ said Dr. Ginger Pedersen, interim vice president of academic affairs. “It’s a good professional development activity for them, and it recognizes their accomplishments at the College.”

Chandramohan was noted for the e-book he created two years ago. He continuously updates the e-book, and it is available as an open educational resource to all students via the College website, not just those enrolled in his Anatomy and Physiology Lab. As a member of the College’s Textbook Affordability Committee, he is interested in exploring more ways to cut textbook costs for students. “We’re trying to use our own resources whenever possible so that we don’t have to use external resources whenever we can avoid it. If they’re in my class, they can get by without having to buy the lab book.”

Chandramohan, who hosted a roundtable discussion during the conference, said he is pleased to receive the recognition from the College and NISOD. “It’s exciting. I’m even more excited to spread the word about what we’re doing at Palm Beach State to help students succeed, and hopefully it will inspire more people to do similar projects.”

Chandrahoman has worked at PBSC for seven years, including six years as a full-time professor. Previously, he worked at the University of Florida as a research scientist and instructor for 11 years. UF also is where he earned his Ph.D. in pathology.

Schmersahl, who also received a PBSC Stewart Distinguished Teaching Award last fall, was recommended for his innovative teaching techniques, including his creative use of videos produced in his class to teach students how to identify and use visual literary devices and the pathos, logos and ethos appeals in their work.  “It’s nice to be appreciated and to know that the contributions that I make are being noticed,” he said.

Schmersahl joined the PBSC faculty in 2013. Prior to then he worked as an adjunct professor at various colleges in St. Louis. He says one of the best aspects of his job is that he “gets to watch students accomplish their goals, become better writers, and to expand their minds to become even better thinkers.”

Professor Christopher Schmersahl (left) and Dr. Sankaranarayana Chandramohan (right), are congratulated during the conference by Dr. Irving Berkowitz, dean of academic affairs at the Lake Worth campus, and Dr. Holly Bennett, provost of the Belle Glade campus.


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