Campus & Community

Two professors receive 2015 Stewart Distinguished Teaching Award

Palm Beach State College leaders officially welcomed faculty and staff to the start of the 2015-2016 academic year during Convocation today and named this year’s winners of the Stewart Distinguished Teaching Award.

Professors Nancy Pennea and Jeannette Sullivan

Professors Nancy Pennea, who teaches math on the Belle Glade campus, and Jeannette Sullivan, who teaches Introduction to the College Experience at the Palm Beach Gardens campus, were surprised with the annual award, which comes with a $5,000 cash prize.

“As a faculty member, this is an unparalleled honor,’’ said Sullivan, who began her career at PBSC in 2003. “I’m just so proud to be a part of this College. When I think of the things that highlight the last decade of my life, they all have to do with being hired at the College and being taken on as a full-time faculty member.”

“It feels good to be recognized,’’ said Pennea. “It does so much for morale and for wanting to continue to do a better job.”

In addition to the awards presentation, the program included an introduction of the College’s new faculty and administrators and a keynote address by PBSC President Ava L. Parker, who told faculty members that they are “crucial to the success” of the College and highlighted some of her goals and initiatives.

A nine-member committee of faculty and administrators selected the winners for the award open to all full-time and part-time faculty and instructors. Pennea and Sullivan are among 18 professors to receive the award since it began in 2006 with a grant from the Douglas and Virginia Stewart Foundation.

As part of the self-nomination process, professors must demonstrate that they go above and beyond the norm by developing, implementing, assessing and analyzing innovative learning practices to help students succeed in reaching their academic goals. Twenty nominations were submitted this year.

Sullivan, who worked as a part-time professor and in other roles before becoming a full-time professor in 2010, was selected for incorporating service learning into her students’ intensive career exploration assignment. Rather than just research and present on a career, students are required to conduct five hours of service learning at a work site related to the career field.

Pennea, who became a full-time professor in 2013 and previously taught part-time, was selected for a statistics course assignment centered on a popular quote attributed to Benjamin Disraeli and made popular by Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies – lies, damn lies, and statistics.” She contends that it represents “unfortunate truths about the information age in which we live.” Therefore, through directed discussions, group activities and a culminating group project, she taught students a different approach to statistics and how to discern whether statistical procedures observed in the media have been used appropriately.

“For students, they have to see some practical and relatable application to what they are learning, and I think that’s what made these applicants shine,’’ said Dr. Anita Kaplan, dean of bachelor’s degree programs who chairs the awards committee. “You have to figure out a way to engage students and make them participants in the learning process.”

“All faculty do a great job, but it’s important and appropriate that their peers get to recognize those among them that go the extra mile,’’ said Suellen Mann, executive director of the PBSC Foundation which oversees the grant funds.

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