The Gillette College Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence is pleased to announce Nancy Preuit as the Faculty Spotlight for September 2019! Nancy has been an adjunct instructor for GC since 2006, teaching a variety of face-to-face and online courses in psychology, sociology, and criminal justice. She was awarded the Master Distance Educator Award in 2016 by the Wyoming Distance Education Consortium for her exemplary efforts in digital learning.
In nominating Nancy for the Faculty Spotlight series, division Chair Chuck Denny writes “students seem to truly feel like Nancy cares about them, and that is hard to convey in an online class. I don’t how she does it, but she does it better than most.” The key, Nancy argues, is to recognize teaching as an opportunity to develop a collaborative partnership between the teacher and each individual student within the class.
While visiting Colombia several years ago, Nancy experienced a cultural custom of strangers first checking in with the “human person” before addressing other issues. “If one stops a policeman to ask for directions,” she observed, “it is customary to first say hello and ask about their health. After the other does the same, it is then, and only then, appropriate to ask for directions. I was so impressed with this attention to recognizing others as individuals first, that I determined to adopt that in my life. I use this with my students.”
In her online classes, Nancy repeats over and over that she wants to hear from her students—“so much so that I suppose they get tired of reading it,” she jokes. When she does get a message from students, she promptly lets them know how pleased she is to hear from them. And if a student apologizes for “bothering her,” she reassures them that “rather than a bother I am delighted to hear from them and indeed they have paid for this service from me.”
In the end, Nancy’s goal in building these relationships is to facilitate deeper learning. In her words, “we work together to assure student success. It is not about memorizing facts to score well on a test, but instead, it is to internalize and learn the concepts in the field of psychology and/or sociology.” And Nancy is quick to give equal credit to the students themselves in building these positive relationships. “They want to succeed,” she says, “and I want to assist them in doing so. Working collaboratively can and does lead to their success.”