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Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award

The Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award is a tribute to several members of the faculty who influenced and encouraged Thomas Jefferson. The award is intended to recognize today's teachers on the faculty. It is made annually to a younger teaching member of the William & Mary community who has demonstrated, through concern as a teacher and through character and influence, the inspiration and stimulation of learning to the betterment of the individual and society as exemplified by Thomas Jefferson.

Award Recipients
Recent recipients of the Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award
2021 - Katherine Barko-Alva, School of Education
Award citation

Katherine Barko-Alva, your deep commitment to your students, inspiring mentorship and passion for advancing equity exemplify excellence in teaching.

Your experiences as an immigrant, English learner and scholar of color have shaped your teaching practice and research agenda, which are defined by hope, compassion and action. You embrace vulnerability and humility, co-creating profound learning spaces with your students and fostering authentic trust in the classroom.

Since joining the faculty at William & Mary, you have created and championed both a certificate and master’s program in ESL/Bilingual Education, inspiring students to pursue teaching careers rooted in inclusion, equity and justice. You foster a deep sense of community in the classroom, going above and beyond to remain accessible and supportive for your students. According to a former student, you “advocate out of love, a ferocious love that is backed by both evidence, experience and a razor-sharp mind.”

Your service to William & Mary is characterized by meaningful collaboration. You have taken on the roles of faculty fellow in the Center for Liberal Arts, supporting faculty in creating courses that address
issues of equity, inclusion and justice; co-director of WMSURE, mentoring 230 undergraduate students from underrepresented backgrounds as they engage in research; and co-director of the UESTC William & Mary Program, supporting faculty members from our sister university in China as they explore teaching methodologies in higher education.

As an educator with a passion for biography-driven learning, culturally-responsive teaching and innovative family engagement practices, you lead by example through your work in the local community. Together with your students, you collaborate with local faith organizations to support immigrant and multilingual families. When the pandemic struck, you immediately mobilized a team of tutors to support English learners as they and their families navigate virtual learning.

Your impact extends far beyond the boundaries of our campus and local community. You have been involved in numerous initiatives through the Virginia Department of Education to promote multilingual education. You also serve on the ESL advisory board for iCivics, an initiative of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to advance civic education that reaches six million students across the nation.

In recognition of your tireless commitment to a vision of inclusive, high-quality public education for all, and with great expectation for your continued contributions, it is our pleasure to honor you today with the 2021 Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award.

2020 - Leslie Cochrane '05, English and Linguistics
Award citation

Leslie E. Cochrane, your work at the intersections of language and identity guides students successfully through the emotionally-charged and sometimes uncomfortable introspection required in the field of sociolinguistics. Your teaching combines creativity and structured analysis, and integrates the delivery of content with discussion, in-class activities, deep reflection and engagement. 
Since joining the faculty at William & Mary, you have created and restructured courses across the linguistics curriculum and contributed to the course offerings of the Departments of English and Anthropology. You transformed the format of the course Language and Culture with deeper student discussion, new readings and assignments and a semester-long guided research component. You served an instrumental role in restructuring the required introductory course Study of Language, helping to standardize core course content across sections and formulate a co-requisite workshop. You have also created a new senior capstone course in the linguistics major, Sociolinguistic Field Methods, where students apply the knowledge they have gained across their undergraduate courses to undertake and describe their own significant research. 
Your students consistently praise your clear lectures, support of student learning, enthusiasm and passion for the subject. Their typical comments include: “The class gave students the opportunity to fully experience data collection and analysis within a small timeframe,” “[she] makes the material accessible and easier to understand,” and “she inspires W&M students to become socially active, culturally sensitive adults.” 
For several years you have involved students in your own sociolinguistic research, sharing with them your skills and experience as well as insights into faculty-level work, and you have regularly supervised and supported other forms of undergraduate research, including Monroe Scholar projects, honors theses and independent studies courses. We also note your annual extracurricular preparation of students to attend the spring Georgetown University Round Table, an annual linguistics conference, where they have the opportunity to participate as intellectual peers in a national, scholarly conversation that is on the cutting edge of linguistics.  
With great expectation for your continued contributions, it is our pleasure to honor you today with the 2020 Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award. 

2019 - Jennifer Gülly, German Studies
Award citation

Jennifer Gülly, since joining the William & Mary faculty in the fall of 2013, you have introduced students to the joys of discovering another culture and learning another language in which to explore and exchange ideas. You have inspired these students to continue achieving through your challenging and caring pedagogy and your innovative course design.

In the classroom, you bring an expertise in German studies, literary and cultural studies, film and media studies and postcolonial and transnational studies, which informs such varied course offerings as From Page to Stage, Coming to Terms with the Nazi Past and Dream and Reality: Vienna 1900-2000. Your teaching at all levels of German studies reflects a commitment to language rights and linguistic diversity. Students who take your lower-level language courses learn lessons on Germany’s minority languages, and all your courses promote the idea that German society is not monolithic but heterogeneous and polyphonic.

Your research interests in the politics of language ideologies and acquisition, in particular, inform your teaching of language. One of your key concerns is to help students overcome their fear of language learning, and students attest to your success in addressing that fear. A current student writes, “I always considered myself a poor language student in high school, but Professor Gülly’s class has really been inspiring to me.” Your colleagues praise your teaching methods, saying they “emphasize student agency, spontaneous speaking, deep cultural understanding, serious intellectual engagement and interpersonal understanding.”

In addition to your research and teaching, you have contributed to your program and department through a variety of service roles. As the coordinator for the German studies program’s undergraduate teaching assistants, you have mentored students who went on to apply for Fulbright English Teaching Assistantships in Germany and Austria, and have twice-directed the summer programs in Potsdam and Berlin. You have served as the German House liaison, were most recently elected one of three department associate chairs, representing the interests of Non-Tenure Eligible (NTE) faculty and oversee the department’s initiatives in the area of diversity and inclusion.

With great expectations for your continued contributions, we are pleased to honor you with the 2019 Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award.

2018 - Jonathan Glasser, Anthropology
Award citation

Jonathan Glasser, since joining the faculty you have demonstrated a remarkable capacity to engage both students and colleagues in the excitement of combining rigorous scholarship with innovative, experiential learning, kindling new opportunities across our academic departments and programs.

You have taught courses from the COLL 100 and introductory levels to graduate seminars and performance-oriented courses, consistently winning high praise from your students. You routinely expose students to some of the most exciting techniques of anthropological research, bringing your own research to life and into the classroom as a medium for studying memory, patrimony, nationalism and place.

As one example, your book The Lost Paradise: Andalusi Music in Urban North Africa applies historical and ethnographic research methods to reveal this centuries-old musical tradition as a vibrant, contemporary landscape. With your ability to speak and read Arabic, and also play violin and viola in the Andalusi style, you have extended your scholarship into musical performances of the traditions you study. Your leadership has resulted in collaborations that bring our students together with Moroccan musicians from Rabat and Oujda to learn and perform publicly in ways that far exceed the usual reach of scholarly publications and transcend national and social boundaries.

Through your service as the Department of Anthropology’s undergraduate director and your collegial work with faculty in William & Mary’s Asian and Middle Eastern Studies program and Department of Music, you have helped to infuse our curriculum with new insights and vitality, advocating the creation of new courses that bring together the diverse interests of our faculty. Among these is a new four-field undergraduate course that addresses contemporary issues and demonstrates the broad relevance of anthropology, both to the liberal arts education and to life in general.

Colleagues note your equanimity and fairness, and their confidence in your judgment. Students cite experiences that "critically challenge and analyze preconceived notions" and "model how the curious outsider can make meaningful, lifelong connections with any stranger through empathy, the patient pursuit of understanding and artistic exchange."

With great expectations for your continued contributions, it is our pleasure to honor you today with the 2018 Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award.

2017 - Kara Thompson, English and American Studies
Award citation

Kara T. Thompson, your extraordinary record of success with all levels of our students – from entering freshmen to upper-level undergraduate to graduate students – and the wide array of classes you have developed in historically neglected areas of academic study has helped to transform students’ lives, opening their eyes to both what is going on around them and what is happening within themselves.

As assistant professor of English and American studies, you have approached your teaching as both an ethical and an educational practice, bringing to bear a powerful empathy and your abilities to make the material relevant. You challenge them both intellectually and emotionally, and offer your quiet support as they confront the unknown, the unfamiliar and the uncomfortable.

We note that since joining the faculty in 2001 you have taught 14 new classes, particularly in areas that historically have been marginalized in the academy and that are now among the most vibrant and exciting, including Native American and Indigenous, queer, and dis/ability studies. Your approach to the notoriously difficult theory classes, adopting the "slow reading" of texts to parse every word of a few sentences and discuss its meaning and significance in depth, trains students to read passionately and intensely and connects theoretical texts to vital issues in their own experiences. And you have integrated boldly innovative assignments into the structure and content of your classes, designing unusual and practical assignments to augment the class as a whole.

In your course evaluations, students respond with exceptionally high marks, far above the average and in four cases awarding you perfect scores. Students regularly cite your rigor and support, your useful written feedback, how brilliantly you run discussions and how you mentor and encourage every student in your classes. That you have also directed multiple master’s theses and Ph.D. dissertations, serve on graduate examining and qualifying committees and frequently include both graduate students and advanced undergraduates in your classes speaks to your wide range of abilities and your intense dedication.

It is our great pleasure to honor your exemplary contributions by awarding you the 2017 Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award.

View more recipients of the Thomas Jefferson Teaching Award.