Passion for teaching
By Marilyn Smulders - March 11, 2009
Jen Gauthier started off as the class coordinator and lab instructor for the second-year biology class, The Diversity of Plants and Animals. But within a few weeks, after the professor went on medical leave, the master’s student ended up teaching the class too.
The mother of a two-and-a-half year old, she’d put her toddler to bed before launching into lesson plans for the class, finishing her preparations at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning, giving her a few hours of shut-eye before teaching the class six hours later.
Yesterday, it was all worth it when Ms. Gauthier accepted one of eight DSU Awards for Teaching Excellence.
“She’s a phenomenal teacher, so passionate about what she’s doing,” said Maddi Clark, one of the students taking the class.
Four months into her teaching career, Ms. Gauthier was clearly thrilled to get an award “alongside people who’ve taught longer than I’ve been alive.” While Dalhousie’s research focus is important, she said, teaching students should be front and centre. “I hope my passion continues, so that in 20 years, I’ll be back on that stage.”
The DSU teaching awards represent a chance for students to say thank you to professors and instructors who’ve inspired them with their dedication and passion in the classroom. And not only in the classroom; students told stories about professors who support them by attending varsity games, helping them with grant applications and listening to their difficulties and giving honest advice. Fiona Munro, a fourth-year history major, remarked that history professor Claire Campbell’s open-door policy means that you can often find her keys dangling from the lock.
The awards were organized a little bit differently this year. Rather than one award going to each faculty, the awards were decided upon according to the best and most convincing nominations.
And so, without further ado, the DSU Award winners are:
- Winston Barnwell, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences;
- Claire Campbell, Department of History, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences;
- Lesley Choyce, Department of English and Transition Year Program;
- Jen Gauthier, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science;
- Shannon Johnson, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Science;
- Simon Gadbois, Department of Psychology and Neuroscience Program, Faculty of Science;
- Darrel Doman, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Faculty of Engineering
- Jim Power, School of Business Administration, Faculty of Management.
The winning professors, some of whom were close to tears as they neared the podium, expressed appreciation to the students who nominated them.
“Sometimes, you’ll get an email or a phone call from a former student years later with a thank you and that always makes my day,” said Dr. Gadbois. “But something like this, well this makes my year.”