Lethbridge College students have no shortage of praise for their instructors, based on their nominations for the Lethbridge College Students’ Association (LCSA) and Lethbridge College Faculty Association (LCFA) annual Excellence in Teaching Awards.
With just two awards available, students submitted 165 nominations for more than 70 instructors from across the institution, recognizing their excellent practices in the classroom, the inspiration they provide and the inclusive, respectful spaces they create.
Dr. Sheila French, an instructor in the college’s Correctional Studies, Criminal Justice – Policing and Justice Studies – Bachelor programs, received the Teaching Excellence Award. French joined the Centre for Justice and Human Services in January 2012. Originally from New Brunswick, she has a doctorate in experimental psychology and more than two decades of experience facilitating learning online, in workshops or in post-secondary classrooms. Before joining Lethbridge College, she worked as Director of Clinical Studies in the Saskatchewan Ministry of Corrections, Public Safety and Policing.
Many of her students said she shares her experience and knowledge in engaging ways. Her caring nature and creation of a respectful classroom culture provide the safe space needed for students to challenge their thinking and discuss difficult issues.
“I think of myself as a facilitator for learning,” French says. “I believe a good working relationship with learners is essential for student confidence and for the creation of a safe environment in which to make mistakes, persevere and develop skills like critical thinking, communication and problem solving. . . I’m proud of my work and grateful students would nominate me.”
This year’s Rookie of the Year Award for a new instructor goes to Christine Baccus, who teaches in the Child and Youth Care program, which is also part of the Centre for Justice and Human Services. Baccus has worked in British Columbia and Ontario in the areas of children and youth mental health, family well-being, child welfare and education. She joined Lethbridge College in August 2022 for the opportunity to directly support post-secondary students’ educational journeys.
“My first year as an instructor at Lethbridge College has been amazing,” Baccus says. “It has been exciting to learn from my colleagues and the students. Their insights and experiences have made my first year at the college valuable. It is important for me that the classroom feels like a place of community and collaboration and I love having the opportunity to hear the perspectives of those around me. Thank you to the students who nominated me!”
Students praised Baccus for her real-world experience that “makes the material feel alive and practical. . . She makes me excited at the prospect of being a similar light in the lives of my clients.”
Award recipients were chosen by a committee of students and LCFA members.
“Our students have so many demands on them – from demanding coursework to part-time jobs and trying to make ends meet,” says Bill Smienk, who led the awards committee. “That so many students took time to craft thoughtful and impressive nominations for their teachers speaks to the appreciation they have for their instructors. We thank them for taking the time to nominate an instructor and thank all of the other instructors who were nominated.”
Dr. Samantha Lenci, Lethbridge College Provost and Vice President Academic, says the outpouring of recognition from students speaks to the college’s caring culture.
“I’m proud of all of our faculty for their genuine care for students and for the experience and expertise they share every day,” Lenci says. “These awards reflect the dedication of our instructors to provide engaging experiences that challenge our students and prepare them for what happens next.”
French and Baccus will be recognized by the LCSA, LCFA, students and colleagues at an event Tuesday, April 4 in The Cave (CE1300).