Nearing the end of an academic year, Central Connecticut State University pauses to recognize faculty who inspire and engage their students in dynamic and creative ways.
To be considered for an Excellence in Teaching Award, candidates also must work effectively in the classroom and in the larger CCSU community and demonstrate an ongoing commitment to growth as an educator.
Both of this year’s recipients are faculty of the Ammon College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences - Vicente Garcia, professor of art, and Kelly Jarvis, adjunct instructor of English composition and literature.
The rigorous selection process began last fall with nominations from students and alumni. The more than 250 nominees were asked to submit a curriculum vitae, teaching philosophy statement, and references of support from students or faculty. After a review of those materials, the awards committee selected nine full-time faculty semi-finalists and five part-time finalists who were interviewed this spring. From those, interviews finalists emerged, and after observing each finalist at work in the classroom, the committee selected Garcia and Jarvis.
Garcia, a sculptor in clay and metal, teaches ceramics at both the undergraduate and graduate level. He also provides in-school workshops at area high schools.
“He takes students who have never touched clay and molds them into ceramic artists,” one nominator wrote about Garcia. Another said, “He is the quiet guardian who gives his students the freedom to grow and explore.” Other students praised Garcia for his kindness, passion, and encouragement to reach creative heights beyond their expectations.
Jarvis, who has taught courses in college writing and British, American and world literature, believes teaching is “a calling.” Her nominators cited her passion for the power of language and ability to convey the deeper themes of literature to her students.
Though she ably brings literature to life in the classroom, she also encourages students to explore literature, work outside of their comfort zones, and draw their own conclusions about literature and writing. One student said, “She engaged the class in a not-so-easy subject material, made it interesting and easy to follow, and pushed our critical reading skills.” Another noted, “I feel as if her class ultimately has changed the way I think.”
Garcia and Jarvis received their awards during the fifth annual Faculty Day, held on April 28.