I’m involved in a few projects at my college that move beyond my base teaching load. I’ve created an accelerated English program designed to get my students from remedial to college level English in one year. Acceleration is the name of the game these days, and the program is showing good results after only one year of operation. We’ve been funded for a second year (yay grant writing), so I’m excited for a second year to prove this shit actually does work.
I’m also doing research on faculty and peer mentoring programs in the hopes of creating a centralized mentoring program on campus for first-year students. Mentoring programs have a documented, positive impact of completion and persistence rates for students in addition to causing GPAs to rise. The impact is especially pronounced for minority students, particularly when they are matched up with mentors whom they can identify with in terms of background.
It’s been a lot of work, these projects. I’ve had little time to do much else in the past year. And these are just two of the five major pieces I’m involved in. On top of my teaching load. On top of coordinating a program. On top of being a good husband and a bad writer.
The results of this work–increased student success, student satisfaction, etc.–are the reasons I work on these types of projects. I don’t want students to languish in remedial classes until they drop out. I want these students to succeed, transfer, and graduate. College transformed my life, and I want to help students get to that place, if they can.
Today, though, I got another type of satisfaction from all this work: recognition from students and colleagues. A few weeks ago, I was nominated for the Distinguished Faculty Award–basically my college’s Teacher of the Year award. With the nomination, I was asked to create a binder of evaluations, activities, projects, and other materials the committee could use (in addition to student and colleague nominations) to decide on the finalists for the award.
Today I got a call that I’m a finalist for the award. I have an interview on Friday with the panel, and if I nail the interview, I might win the award. There are lots of perquisites to the award–parking spot, stipend, and recognition–but the thing I’m most excited about is being able to give the commencement address at next year’s graduation. Every since my first graduation, I’ve wanted to be that person. I’ve seen it as some sort of pinnacle, though of what I’m not quite sure.
Soon, I hope, i’ll find out.
Win or lose, it’s an honor to be nominated. It shows that all the hard work is being noticed and appreciated.