UHV education faculty, staff receive awards from peers
The University of Houston-Victoria School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development recently presented awards to three assistant professors and one staff member for distinction in teaching, scholarship and service.
The 2017-2018 honorees were:
- Outstanding Faculty Member in Teaching – Janelle Bouknight, assistant professor of literacy education
- Outstanding Faculty Member in Scholarship – Liping Wei, assistant professor of curriculum and instruction
- Outstanding Faculty Member in Service – Sherry Vafa, assistant professor of educational technology
- Outstanding Staff Member – Harry Bashaw, instructional technology coordinator
The awards have been presented every year since 2013 to recognize outstanding accomplishments by the school’s faculty and staff. A faculty and staff committee chooses the recipients.
“We have many outstanding faculty and staff members who work extremely hard to help make UHV a great institution,” said Fred Litton, dean of the UHV School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development. “I am pleased to work with these individuals and applaud them for being recognized by their peers for their achievements.”
Bouknight specializes in literacy education, helping provide future educators with the skills they need to assist and assess students who require additional help with reading and writing. Several courses she instructs integrate a reading clinic during which UHV students work with area schools to help struggling readers one on one in a classroom setting. The participation is part of their early childhood assessment course, and UHV students must assess readers at the beginning of the semester to promote and monitor their improvement. Through Bouknight’s courses, students are motivated and get a preview of making a positive impact in children’s lives as educators.
“It was really an honor to be nominated for this award,” Bouknight said. “I typically receive positive feedback from students, but it’s even more meaningful when your colleagues applaud the job you do and the hard work associated with it.”
Since she is instructing future teachers, Bouknight is friendly but firm in order to prepare students for the skills and attributes teachers should possess.
“As an education professor, chances are you’ve been a classroom teacher before, so I try to establish clear expectations up front and help when needed so the students will work hard to reach those goals and grow from it,” she said.
Wei is the first author of several peer-reviewed journal articles published during the school year. Additionally, she was the recipient of the university’s Junior Faculty Summer Research Grant in 2017. She specializes in English as a Second Language/Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages teacher preparation and development. Her research focuses on how teachers think reflectively and systematically about their practice and experiences, to better equip educators with the knowledge, skills and attributes important for working with English language learners.
“I feel very honored to receive this award because our school has many faculty members who are accomplished in various scholarly activities,” Wei said. “I am thankful for all the support from my wonderful colleagues and school leadership.”
Wei said she regards this award as encouragement and motivation to further pursue her research agenda.
“Being aware of the dependence research and teaching have on each other, I have paid special attention to making my research benefit my teaching,” Wei said. “I was able to integrate the research findings to make sure we deliver a high-quality master’s in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in ESL/TESOL that meets students’ needs.”
Vafa is an assistant professor of education technology. During the 2017-2018 school year, she contributed to several technology projects, including the design and implementation of a digital e-portfolio platform intended to be used by students in the undergraduate teacher education program. The tool can be used for assessment, planning, advising and more.
“It means a lot to be nominated by my colleagues, especially for the service award,” Vafa said.
Vafa also is the program chair of the newly developed master degree in education technology. The program prepares students for positions and leadership roles as technology specialists and instructional designers in higher education, corporate settings, human services, and in public and private schools. Four tracks are offered through the program to meet students’ needs.
Bashaw started at UHV in 2001 as a student ambassador. Since then, he has worked as a LEAD ambassadors program coordinator, student recruitment coordinator, internet technician, temporary database developer, adjunct lecturer and multimedia specialist before moving into his current role in 2017 as an instructional technology coordinator. Now he works on projects ranging from the school’s webpages, accessibility and coordinating support for the school’s online courses. Additionally, he assists with grant projects. Recently he helped host a virtual showcase for an autism grant the school received.
“I was surprised to receive this award,” Bashaw said. “I’m grateful my hard work is recognized. I’m glad to work with such a talented, diverse group of people, and I don’t do any of this on my own.”
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973, offers courses leading to 70 bachelor’s, master’s and specialist degree programs and concentrations in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as a teaching center in Katy, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All Initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student popular, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.