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Fuchs Named SIUE Teaching Excellence Award Winner

26 March 2015, 10:45 AM

Wendy FuchsThe Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Office of the Provost announced that Wendy Fuchs, PhD, is the recipient of the annual Teaching Excellence Award for tenure-track faculty. It is the most prestigious teaching award that a faculty member can receive at SIUE. Six additional faculty members were saluted for their teaching skills and accomplishments.

Fuchs is an associate professor in the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorder within the School of Education, Health and Human Behavior. She received a $2,000 prize as part of the award.

 “I am humbled to be considered a high-quality teacher by my colleagues,” said Fuchs, a native of Homer, Alaska, who joined the SIUE faculty in August 2008. “We get valuable instructor/course feedback from students each semester, but this is the first time I've received feedback about my teaching from a committee of my professional peers.

“I have always felt that it is my civic duty to continuously strive to improve my own teaching, and it is my way of contributing to improving instructional practices for students with disabilities. I have spent my entire educational career working to increase access to high quality instruction and improve educational opportunities and outcomes for all students. As a teacher/educator, I have the privilege of guiding and supporting future special education teachers to continue this important work.”

Fuchs will be recognized during SIUE’s May commencement ceremony and speak at the December commencement ceremony. She will be nominated for the Council of Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for the National Professor of the Year Award.

Chair of the Teaching Excellence Awards committee Bryan Smith, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Heath Education, cited Fuchs as an extraordinary educator. The committee noted Fuchs’ passion and enthusiasm for teaching. One review commented, “She devotes her professional life to teaching and learning about education.”

“It is my responsibility to provide learning experiences for my students that not only give them access to the priority knowledge and skills of our discipline, but also model, and hopefully foster, a love of teaching,” Fuchs explained. “My classes are intentionally designed to include a variety of learning opportunities that model effective practices that create a community in order to allow students to experience multiple ways of learning through large group discussion, journaling, small group projects and individual tasks.”

“This award is a tribute to the tremendous amount of time and effort Dr. Fuchs invests in her teaching,” said Curt Lox, interim dean of the SIUE School of Education, Health and Human Behavior. “She truly represents her program and the School of Education, Health and Human Behavior with distinction.”

Fuchs is the principal investigator and co-coordinator of the Illinois Institutes of Higher Education (IHE) Partnership, a five-year state personnel development grant (SPDG) funded through the Office of Special Education Program and Illinois State Board of Education.

Fuchs was previously a regional coordinator with Illinois ASPIRE (Alliance for School-based Problem-solving and Intervention Resources in Education). She continues to provide professional development and educational consulting in the areas of response to intervention (RtI)/multi-tier system of supports (MTSS), school improvement, and increasing student engagement for school districts in Southern Illinois.

Fuchs is a member of the statewide Positive Behavioral Intervention & Supports (PBIS) leadership team, and serves as a board member for the Illinois chapter of the Teacher Education Division of Council for Exceptional Children. Her research interests include MTSS, stress reduction strategies for students, and improving teacher effectiveness through explicit and inclusive instructional practices.

In addition, Teaching Distinction Awards went to three faculty members. Diane Hudzik, Suman Mishra, PhD, and Alison Reiheld, PhD, are all recipients of $500 prizes.

Hudzik is a recipient for her work as an instructor in the Department of Special Education and Communication Disorder within the School of Education, Health and Human Behavior.

The committee acknowledged Hudzik’s classroom environment as one that immerses students in the real world of special education and complimented her passion for encouraging students to be active participants in this discipline. She also made a significant contribution to virtually redesigning the special education curriculum.

Mishra is an assistant professor in the Department of Mass Communications within the College of Arts and Sciences. She joined the SIUE faculty in 2009.

The committee complimented Mishra as an outstanding mentor to mass communications graduate students by bringing a global perspective, valuing each student’s unique point of view and involving them in her own research. She has been active in updating mass communications curriculum to reflect emerging trends and global perspectives.

A native of India, Mishra achieved a doctorate in mass media and communication from Temple University. She earned two master’s - in advertising from Michigan State University, and in public relations and advertising management from the Institute of Management Studies in India. She earned a bachelor’s in chemistry from Benaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India. 

Reiheld is an assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy within the College of Arts and Sciences. The committee described her as an engaging and passionate teacher who presents philosophy as a life skill and a collaborative effort between student and teacher. The committee pointed to her clear, concise, unbiased delivery style that makes subjects such as ethics accessible and enjoyable to a wide range of students.

Reiheld earned a doctorate in philosophy from Michigan State in 2010 after joining the SIUE faculty in 2009. She spent her formative years in Geneva, Ill., before earning a bachelor’s in biology from Kalamazoo (Mich.) College in 1997. She also studied immunology and microbiology for a year at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland.

Three faculty members received Teaching Recognition Awards. Melodie Rowbotham, PhD, associate professor of family health and community health nursing in the School of Nursing; Cathy Santanello, PhD, associate professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences within the School of Pharmacy; and Stacy Skelton, an instructor in the School of Nursing received $250 prizes.

The committee was impressed with Rowbotham’s ability to teach a wide variety of classes at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. She utilizes a variety of teaching styles to keep students engaged and focused. Curriculum development is also one of her strengths.

Rowbotham earned a doctorate from the University of Missouri-St. Louis in 2007 after achieving her master’s in nursing from UMSL in 1999.  She received a bachelor’s in nursing from Brigham Young University in 1988.

Santanello was complimented for her passion for the educational experience and the seriousness with which she approaches the art of teaching. The Fairview Heights native employs various teaching methods to keep students engaged and make a connection with those students.  

Santanello has been at SIUE since 1993 and was an instructor in the Department of Biological Sciences before joining the School of Pharmacy in 2005. She received a bachelor’s in zoology from Eastern Illinois University in 1979. She earned a master’s in biology from Stephen F. Austin State University in 1983 and achieved a doctorate in biology in 1989 from Saint Louis University.

The committee noted Skelton’s use of different teaching/learning theories to create an optimal learning environment. She utilizes personal experiences in the field to provide students with insight to the impact of the topic being discussed. She works both inside and outside the classroom to ensure her students’ success.

Skelton achieved a both bachelor’s and master’s in nursing from UMSL in 1993 and 2002, respectively.

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