This year’s four Faculty Excellence Award winners at Lone Star College-CyFair are all founding faculty with a love for their respective disciplines and a passion for teaching.
LSC-CyFair’s honorees are professors Macarena Aguilar, English as a Second Language; Kimberly Hubbard, Computer Information Technology; James Seymour, History; and Elise Sheppard, Reference Librarian.
All four have a desire to teach their students life skills and to see them succeed beyond LSC-CyFair.
Aguilar’s commitment of more than 40 years to teaching English to those who speak other languages began at age 15 tutoring a neighbor and shortly thereafter a class of third-graders in a German school.
“Teaching ESL students is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. There’s nothing else I’d want do,” said Aguilar, who is currently chairing an 18-month accreditation process for the college’s English to Speakers of Other Languages program.
Aguilar sees her role in the classroom as one of facilitator, providing her students a safe environment to practice and actively learn while collaborating in pairs and in groups.
Hubbard said Information Technology is a volatile field so her role as teacher also includes that of advisor and counselor. She helps students understand their short-term and long-term goals and guides them toward a career. in IT.
“I create an environment that not only gives students an academic understanding of Information Technology but also a workforce perspective and hands-on skills that are crucial to their success. My approach to teaching IT prepares students for a career in a competitive industry,” said Hubbard, who draws on more than 10 years of experience in the IT industry. “I want to make sure students are prepared for the competition.”
She engages her IT students with fun activities in the classroom, such as creating mock scenarios where students act as network administrators for a week, troubleshooting and resolving issues.
Seymour uses a Socratic teaching method with lots of questions to engage students, to make history relevant to their lives and to show that history is an ongoing process.
“History tells you about people, helps you understand where we are, explains things … and I get to talk about it for a living,” said Seymour, who has 14 years teaching experience that includes high school and four-year universities.
He ventures beyond traditional lecture format, assigning graphic and illustrative readings, oral history projects, weekly readings and daily class discussions to help students learn to analyze, evaluate and see history from many viewpoints while improve their reading, writing, speaking and interpersonal skills.
While a faculty and reference librarian specializing in information retrieval, Sheppard’s time is spent primarily in her role as teen librarian teaching pre-college teen-agers. She offers a variety of library programs that enrich their lives, enable them to explore educational and career goals, develop leadership skills, build self-esteem and confidence and provide worthwhile activities for their leisure time.
Of all the programs, the book discussions are most important because she’s seen an increase in the teens’ critical thinking as well as analytical and communication skills.
“For teens to blossom, it’s important to create a nurturing, respectful, patient and safe atmosphere where everyone is encouraged to express his/her own opinions with no right or wrong answers,” said Sheppard. “I develop a professional relationship with the teens with warmth, humor and trust – that’s why they are still coming back after five years.”
These four faculty will be honored Feb. 15 at the Lone Star College System’s award banquet which recognizes Faculty Excellence Award winners across the system as well as Staff Excellence Award winners, writing award winners and staff with service milestones.