By Caitlin Powers
A passion for teaching is evident in the classroom, in the conversations with students and now on the wall for assistant professor Jennifer Williams, Ph.D.
Williams, better known as Dr. Jen to her students, will have two teaching awards to display on her office wall making her passion for teaching even more evident.
Williams was selected to receive two teaching awards – the Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for College-Level Teaching and the Montague Center for Teaching Excellence Scholars Award.
“It means a lot to receive the awards because the association award came from student nominations and with the Montague award I was nominated by a peer,” Williams said. “The fact that my peers and students think that I am pretty good in the classroom means a whole lot to me.”
ALEC Department Head Jack Elliot, Ph.D., commends Williams on not only receiving one award but receiving two prestigious teaching awards in the same year, a feat not surprising considering her passion for teaching.
“I don’t know if there is a more passionate person in the whole system not just in the department or college,” Elliot said, “but she is absolutely the most passionate person about what she does.”
The Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award for College- Level Teaching recognizes outstanding faculty members for their dedication to teaching and is considered to be one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a faculty member.
Named in honor of Kenneth Montague ’37, distinguished alumnus and outstanding Texas A&M trustee, The Montague CTE Scholars Award is based on a faculty member’s ability and interest in teaching. The award is given annually to a tenure-track faculty member from each of the nine colleges.
Williams will join the more than 150 Montague CTE Scholars on campus including Kim Dooley Ph.D. and Barry Boyd, Ph.D. from the ALEC department. Previous ALEC faculty Chris Townsend, Ph.D., and Manda Rosser, Ph.D., have also been named Montague CTE Scholars.
“I look and see who in the department has won the Montague CTE Scholars award, Dr. Chris, Dr. Dooley, Dr. Boyd and those are individuals I think are exemplary examples of what a good teacher is,” Williams said.
“So to be counted among them is huge and to be put in the same category as them has been one of my professional goals.”
Being recognized as one of the best also comes along with added pressure for Williams to continue to be engaging in the classroom. “I feel like I need to step up my game even more,” Williams said, “I’m always constantly looking to improve.”
Williams said she has tried to already this semester in the courses she teaches. To get students involved Williams said she took a normal lecture she would normally stand up and deliver and had the students act out the material by breaking them into groups.
“Even though it has made me step up my game and it looks awesome on a wall. It’s the emails I get from students and the little notes I get from students that impact me more than the awards,” Williams said.
“Because they are everyday reminders of the fact what I am teaching is actually important.”