May 17, 2022
VINCENNES, Ind. – New faculty bring fresh ideas, unique experiences, and different perspectives to the classroom. Through the Trailblazer Teaching Academy, the Vincennes University Office of the Provost is leveraging the strengths of all new faculty, enhancing their knowledge, and expanding their skill set to provide superb learning experiences for VU students through this innovative initiative.
Supporting a new faculty's transition to VU is imperative in positioning them for success by guaranteeing they have all the resources and support needed to thrive. It also ensures VU students are learning from the best.
Created and developed by VU Provost Dr. Laura Treanor, the Trailblazer Teaching Academy is a yearlong program. The academy is designed to provide new faculty with eight goals, including confidence, meaningful discussion about research-based effective teaching practices, and ongoing support, training, and development in addition to resources and contacts essential to personal satisfaction, student retention, and success.
New faculty meet monthly with Treanor and Assistant Provost for Curriculum and Instruction Rick Kribs during the academic year. The meetings feature discussions centered around important teaching concepts and skills. They also include guest speakers who share information and insights about key VU offices and services.
Since the program's inception in 2020, close to 50 faculty have completed the program. The most recent group of participants wrapped up their first year of teaching with a celebratory luncheon on Wednesday, May 11 and they were presented with a program certificate of completion by Treanor and VU President Dr. Chuck Johnson.
Psychology Assistant Professor Kristin Jessee-Davis was among the faculty recently recognized for completing the program. She appreciated the opportunity of learning about her fellow first-year faculty members, and she truly felt comfortable asking questions.
“VU and the TTA have provided mentorship, hands-on training, and a safe environment to learn and grow in my ability to teach,” she said. “I come to the University with experience in the field, but not specific teaching experience. The TTA provided the curriculum and platform to learn how to be an effective teacher.”
With a background in professional counseling, Jessee-Davis brings real-world expertise to the classroom.
“The TTA taught me how to structure class time with variety,” she said. “I was made aware of the numerous resources available to students and myself. I also learned that I'm surrounded by a community of faculty and staff who deeply care about the students.”
Legal Studies Program Chair Shannon Hudson was part of a past cohort. She agrees she is a better educator because of the Trailblazer Teaching Academy.
“The opportunity to listen to other educators share their experiences and insights helped me expand my teaching perspectives,” Hudson said. “It can be easy to decide the way you have historically taught is the best or only way. During the Trailblazer Teaching Academy, I heard about strategies and ideas that I had not previously considered but have since found invaluable in my classroom. My top takeaway from the academy is that Vincennes University is rich in talented, experienced people who are willing to help.”
VU is committed to connecting faculty with resources and opportunities that foster professional growth at all levels of their careers.
According to Fire Science Program Chair Brian Russell, the Trailblazer Teaching Academy helped him focus on the art and science of teaching.
“After many years of teaching, it reminded me that I still have a lot to learn,” Russell said. “It gave me several tools for my toolbox and a fresh perspective on my mission as an educator.”
Ultimately, students are the ones who greatly benefit from the faculty’s engagement with the Trailblazer Teaching Academy.
Hudson has a vital message to future cohorts.
“I continue to reflect back and use the information I gained through the Trailblazer Teaching Academy,” she said. “The Trailblazer Teaching Academy is a unique asset at Vincennes University that can give you resources and perspectives that will make your teaching, service, and advising experiences at VU more rich and less stressful.”
See Photo Gallery of Trailblazer Teaching Academy Celebratory Luncheon