2017 Excellence in Teaching Awards Announced

Each year the University of Georgia recognizes graduate students who have demonstrated superior teaching skills and contributed to teaching beyond their own classroom responsibilities through the Excellence in Teaching Awards administered by the Graduate School and the Outstanding Teaching Awards administered by the Office of the Vice President for Instruction.

The winners of this year’s Graduate School Excellence in Teaching Award are Meghan Barnes (Language and Literacy Education), J. Aaron Harris (Cellular Biology), Caitlin Ishibashi (Plant Biology), Haley O'Steen (Finance), and Marcela Reales Visbal (Romance Languages).

Meghan Barnes has been a teaching assistant for the English Education program for the past four years and has taught three different courses within the program. Barnes introduced a community-based component to her courses, partnering university students with local high school students and requiring her university students to learn about, from, and with local community members. Additionally, Barnes was the TA for a service-learning study abroad course through Communication Studies. Barnes has served as the Lead TA for the English Education program, participated in UGA’s Future Faculty Program, and developed a feedback system for the TAs in her department.   

 J. Aaron Harris continues to make the most of his teaching opportunities in the Cellular Biology department. He has taught a number of diverse courses ranging from introductory laboratory courses to upper level lecture courses. He was also selected to teach a seminar course to graduate students that  prepares the students to teach at a university level. In his teaching, Harris utilizes a number of pedagogies to promote the student’s curiosity and develop critical thinking skills that can be applied long after they have left his class. In addition to his work inside the classroom, Harris participates in a number of programs in the community that aim to impart the joys of learning and science to the generation of future learners.

Caitlin Ishibashi is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Plant Biology, and has taught various biology courses since 2013. She also co-designed and co-taught two new classes at UGA: a graduate seminar "Communicating Science" and an undergraduate course "Plant Based Solutions to Societal and Environmental Challenges." Her primary goal in the classroom is to inspire others to enjoy and appreciate the process of learning. She works to create an inclusive environment in which students are excited to participate. Caitlin believes that teaching is immensely rewarding when instructors and students engage together in meaningful learning experiences.

Haley O'Steen has taught Financial Management and Financial Modeling to juniors and seniors in Terry College of Business since 2014. She coordinates the other teaching assistants in the Finance Department and has taught traditional courses as well as an online course for the UGA online BBA degree. Her goal in the classroom is to encourage engagement, and whether her pupils plan to get jobs in finance or pursue research, she is actively involved in working with them all. Even outside the classroom, O'Steen enjoys helping students start careers in the industry as much as mentoring them in CURO undergraduate research projects.

Marcela Reales Visbal is a doctoral candidate in Hispanic Studies in the Department of Romance Languages. She has taught and led discussion sessions for Spanish language and Latin American Literature courses and has participated as a teaching assistant in numerous Study Abroad and Spanish Language Immersion programs. She strives to provide students with multiple paths to learning by creating lessons that incorporate relevant, diverse, and creative materials and encourage students to become active learners and collaborators. She is an advocate for innovative implementation of technology in the classroom, and is interested in developing service-learning courses that promote social justice through community engagement. She currently serves as treasurer of the romance languages graduate student organization.

In addition, to these five graduate students receiving the Excellence in Teaching Award, 120 graduate students were honored with an Outstanding Teaching Award. See the complete list of all winners and nominees for the Excellence in Teaching and Outstanding Teaching Awards.