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Outstanding Teachers Honoured at Trent University’s Celebration of Teaching Excellence

April 11, 2018

Annual event recognizes passionate and influential educators

Kelly Egan, Robyne Hanley-Dafoe, Malinda Gray, and Paula Sherman smiling into camera

Building on Trent University’s reputation for excellence in teaching, faculty, staff and students gathered today to honour exemplary educators in Cultural Studies, Education, Psychology, Indigenous Studies, and Sociology as the recipients of the 2018 Teaching Awards at the annual Celebration of Teaching Excellence.

“Trent continues to be a University which prides itself on great teaching that fosters the learning of our students every step of the way,” said Dr. Leo Groarke, president and vice-chancellor. “We celebrate the faculty and instructors who help foster that important environment here at Trent with their passion and dedication, and congratulate our award winners this year.”

The following teachers were presented with a 2018 teaching award: 

              Kelly Egan, Cultural Studies
              Symons Award for Excellence in Teaching

              Robyne Hanley-Dafoe, Centre for Teaching and Learning; Education; Psychology
              Award for Educational Leadership and Innovation

              Malinda Gray, Indigenous Studies
              Award for Excellence in Teaching Assistance

              Troy Bordun, Sociology
              CUPE 3908-1 Award for Excellence in Teaching

              Paula Sherman, Indigenous Studies
              Award for Excellence in Online Teaching

Profiles on each recipient including recipient quotes can be found below.

Kelly Egan, Symons Award for Excellence in Teaching

Dr. Kelly Egan, an assistant professor in Cultural Studies, has been named the recipient of the Symons Award for Excellence in Teaching. In receiving this award, Professor Egan is recognized as an extraordinary teacher, extremely knowledgeable in her field, and an influencer in and outside of the classroom whose commitment to student learning ensures that students have the support and encouragement needed to thrive. The classroom environments that Prof. Egan creates are lauded for being motivating and inclusive, and for the ways in which they integrate theory and practice and engage students both creatively and intellectually. Her students also appreciate how Prof. Egan carefully crafts each class to promote critical thinking and in-depth understandings of key concepts while adjusting teaching techniques to fit diverse learning styles; how she is able to a balance clear descriptions and examples with complex theoretical approaches; and how she encourages and challenges students to step beyond their conceived limits to stretch themselves and embrace what they learn from doing so.

“It’s an honour to be included on this list, and to represent my department,” Prof. Egan commented upon learning of the teaching award presented to her. “Cultural Studies as a whole deserves big props. Everyone has been extremely supportive and enthusiastic, open to sharing ideas and strategies for more effective teaching. We share a similar devotion to fostering a deep-rooted intellectual world for our students and bringing abstract theory to life. It takes a village—faculty, admin, and especially students—I’m glad to call this village home.”

Robyne Hanley-Dafoe, Award for Educational Leadership and Innovation

Ms. Robyne Hanley-Dafoe, an educational developer in the Centre for Teaching and Learning, instructor and faculty advisor in the School of Education, and instructor in Psychology, has been named the recipient of the Award for Educational Leadership and Innovation. In receiving this award, Ms. Hanley-Dafoe is recognized as an institutional trailblazer that consistently goes above and beyond her staff and faculty roles to advance exemplary teaching at Trent. She is highly regarded for her collaborative approach to working across disciplines and departments in order to build capacity in the areas of teaching excellence, pedagogical development, and scholarship on teaching and learning. Ms. Hanley-Dafoe is lauded for her leadership in promoting best practices for assessment and student engagement, and for modelling strategic and innovative pedagogical approaches that draw connections between theory, research, and real-world application. She has further consistently demonstrated herself as a leader in universal instructional design at Trent – not only through implementing accessible practices in her own classrooms but also in advocating these practices across the university.

"I am deeply honoured and humbled to be recognized by my colleagues and my students. It is a privilege to learn and work alongside such wonderful people here at Trent,” said Ms. Hanley-Dafoe. “Being acknowledged for my contributions in educational leadership is particularly special for me. My leadership approach is more of a guide. I am committed to fostering leadership in others by inviting them to see what is possible within their own practices that will have impact on all of our teaching and learning communities.”

Malinda Gray, Award for Excellence in Teaching Assistance

Ms. Malinda Gray, a teaching assistant in Indigenous Studies, has been named the recipient of the Award for Excellence in Teaching Assistance. In receiving this award, Ms. Gray is recognized for her compassion, confidence, and commitment to personalized and inspiring teaching and learning. She is lauded for her ability to help students persist in the face of challenges, and for consistently providing thoughtful feedback and encouragement. Ms. Gray is also highly regarded for the ways in which she helps to build close knit learning communities that engage humour and personal experience, while simultaneously helping students develop critical writing and research skills.

In learning about the award, Ms. Gray said, “Receiving the Award for Excellence in Teaching Assistance has filled me with so much gratitude towards my students. I’m happy that I’ve been able to make connections with many of my students over the past year. This award has helped me feel positive about choosing Trent to pursue my PhD and I’m grateful for the opportunity to mentor such enthusiastic students.”

Troy Bordun, CUPE 3908-1 Award for Excellence in Teaching

Dr. Troy Bordun, an instructor in Sociology, has been named the recipient of the CUPE 3908-1 Award for Excellence in Teaching. In receiving this award, Professor Bordun is recognized as a personable and passionate instructor dedicated to student learning and success. The interactive classroom dynamics that Prof. Bordun works to establish are lauded for being lively and engaging. His students also appreciate how Prof. Bordun clearly articulates expectations for assignments; how he presents material in lectures confidently and knowledgeably while breaking down complicated readings to ensure student understanding; and how he consistently encourages students to participate in discussions, ask questions, and relate other parts of their knowledge of Sociology to the course content.

“To be nominated by faculty and students is absolutely thrilling and builds my self-confidence in teaching and learning,” said Prof. Bordun. “Receiving the CUPE award confirms for me that university instructor is the right career choice – I get to do what I love and share my knowledge with bright and engaged students.”

Paula Sherman, Award for Excellence in Online Teaching

Dr. Paula Sherman, an associate professor in Indigenous Studies, has been named the 2018 recipient of the inaugural Award for Excellence in Online Teaching. In receiving this award, Professor Sherman is recognized as an outstanding online instructor whose influence is felt far beyond her own courses, and whose teaching is rooted in deep respect for her students and their well-being. She is highly regarded for the ways in which she seamlessly combines Indigenous pedagogies and online environments, as well as for her ongoing leadership in the adoption and effective use of VoiceThread technology. Her students also appreciate how Prof. Sherman facilitates the growth of dynamic online learning communities while simultaneously ensuring highly personalized student experiences.

“I’m really honoured to receive the inaugural award for excellence in online teaching,” said Prof. Sherman. “I’ve been teaching online for several years and enjoy it immensely. There are a lot of innovative teaching technologies available that create a seminar environment in an online course.”

For more information about the Celebration of Teaching Excellence, including more details about the teaching awards and past teaching award recipients, visit trentu.ca/teaching