Who are among this year's best teachers?

Quality teaching is at the core of Appalachian State University's mission. Each year Appalachian and the University of North Carolina Board of Governors recognize outstanding teaching at the undergraduate level.

Recipients of the 2010 awards for teaching excellence are Dr. Pam Schram, Dr. Harold McKinney, Dr. Alecia Jackson, Dr. Margaret Werts, Dr. Elizabeth Carroll, Dr. Julia Pedigo and Dr. Sheila Phipps.

Established by the Board of Governors in 1994 to underscore the importance of teaching and to reward good teaching across the university system, the awards are given annually to a tenured faculty member from each UNC campus. Winners must have taught at their present institutions at least seven years. No one may receive the award more than once.

Dr. Schram, a professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in Appalachian's Reich College of Education, received a commemorative bronze medallion and a $7,500 cash prize. First runner-up McKinney from the Hayes School of Music received $1,500.

The Board of Governors also allocates $6,500 to Appalachian to award to additional faculty for teaching excellence at the undergraduate level. Receiving $1,000 each were Dr. Alecia Jackson, Reich College of Education's Department of Leadership and Educational Studies; Dr. Margaret Werts, Reich College of Education's Department of Language, Reading and Exceptionalities; Dr. Elizabeth Carroll, College of Arts and Sciences' Department of English and the University Writing Center; Dr. Julia Pedigo, Hayes School of Music; and Dr. Sheila Phipps, College of Arts and Sciences' Department of History.

Pam Schram

A 35-year veteran of education, Dr. Pam Schram has taught a range of students—from first graders to doctoral students. "Teaching throughout my career has been reciprocal, rewarding, ever changing, challenging and invigorating," she said.

"My philosophy of teaching is dynamic and currently consists of four guiding principles: create a learner-centered approach to instruction, establish an engaging and respectful learner-center community, critically examine the processes of teaching and learning, and model professional practices."

Schram taught in the public schools for 10 years before becoming a university professor. She came to Appalachian in 1996 and was director of the Appalachian Teaching Fellows Program from 2004-08. She retired in June.

Harold McKinney

Dr. Harold McKinney teaches trombone, philosophy of music and a summer institute in expressive arts.

"As a young music student, I was taught the importance of listening. Later as a teacher I learned that one's effectiveness in the classroom was directly related to the ability to hear in a larger sense of the word," he said.

McKinney praises others who have chosen teaching as a career, especially those in the arts. Quoting from the poet Frank Tichelli, he said, "Music and singing have been my refuge, and music and singing shall be my light."

McKinney has performed at the International Harvest Symposium, the International Brass Symposium, and the International Expressive Arts Therapy Conference.

Alecia Jackson

"We often see the words 'teaching' and 'learning' in opposition to one another," says educational researcher Dr. Alecia Jackson. "But what happens if we view teaching as curiosity, discovery or even inquiry? I am surrounded by colleagues who embrace teaching as an open process full of unintended discoveries and unanticipated possibilities."

Jackson says faculty should ask themselves what they can learn as they teach. "How can teaching open up new ways of being and relating to one another? My own pedagogy involves pushing students to examine their own positions in the world, the assumptions of their knowledge, the limits of their experiences and how they can work the edges of those assumptions and limits in order to open up new ways of being and thinking."

Margaret Werts

Dr. Margaret Werts coordinates the Reich College of Education's Special Education degree program.

She prepares for each semester as if it were the first time she has taught her courses, even though she has taught many classes at Appalachian. "Each class of students that comes to me needs to have that material to be fresh for them," Werts said. "Teaching happens when learning happens. It is not enough to cover material. I must ensure that my students have the skills they need."

Werts teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Assessment and Identification of Students with Special Education Needs Developmental Assessment of Preschoolers Classroom Management and other courses related to teaching in a special education setting.

Elizabeth Carroll

Dr. Elizabeth Carroll earned her bachelor's at Appalachian, and admits that she wasn't the best student when she first enrolled.

"It was here that I went from being a mediocre student who didn't really like school to becoming a dean's list student aspiring to become a teacher. Quite a shift occurred to me at Appalachian and it is because of the wonderful teachers I learned from," Carroll said. From them, she learned to create a classroom that inspires, challenges and supports students. "When I have doubts about how to deal with a particular teaching challenge, I think 'What would my best teachers do?'"

Carroll's research and scholarly interests include the teaching of writing, writing center theory and practice, and ethnography.

Julia Pedigo

Dr. Julia Pedigo has taught voice, vocal pedagogy, and song literature as a member of the Hayes School of Music faculty since 1985. She also is coordinator of voice.

"The opportunity to teach one-on-one is essential in helping each student open up to the possibilities of their voice and a whole new world of awareness and self-confidence," she said. "This is essential in whatever career one chooses. Seeing a student mature, both vocally and as a person in the four years that you teach them is a reward in itself."

Sheila Phipps

Dr. Sheila Phipps teaches courses in U.S., colonial, early republican and women's history. She came to a higher education after careers in the private sector and county and federal government.

"I have never had a job before that left me more uncertain at the end of the day that I have done a good job than teaching," she said. "I have learned with my teaching that my success doesn't count. My students' success is what counts."

She is the author of "Appreciate All the Little Curses: Crossing the Boundaries of Gendered Labor," a book-length study examining the efforts of both men and women during the Civil War to take on tasks normally assigned to the opposite sex.