The SCS Teaching Excellence Awards Committee has awarded three prizes this year to the following teachers at the college and university level:
E. Del Chrol (Marshall University)
Shelley Haley (Hamilton College)
Mary Pendergraft (Wake Forest University)
The winners will receive their awards at the Plenary Session at the Boston Annual Meeting. Please click on the names above to read the full citations.
The committee is delighted to recognize Professor E. Del Chrol of the Humanities Program at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, where he has been for the past twelve years. Prof. Chrol is already a decorated teacher: he has won the Pickens-Queen Teaching Award at Marshall, the West Virginia Foreign Language Teachers Association’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, and, in graduate school at the University of Southern California, both a departmental and a university-wide teaching award. So it is no surprise to find in his application materials a deep commitment to and patent skills in pedagogy, conceived very broadly, including also a wide range of presentations on pedagogical issues.
One of his letter-writers notes, “He is a spell-binding presenter, a showman with pizzazz as well as substance, who utilizes humor, rhetorical flourishes, and a fast-paced delivery to keep students interested and engaged. He so thoroughly inhabits his ideas that his presentations often seem off-the-cuff, even though he works diligently on them.” It is no surprise, then, to find that one of his most popular courses is entitled “The Rhetoric of Seduction.” This course, which builds upon his research, is taught in election years, and is specifically designed to enable students to think through campaign rhetoric. Prof. Chrol regularly enlists local and state politicians to come to the course as guest lecturers, an event which clearly blows the students away. And, as Prof. Chrol notes in his description of the course, his aim in this is not merely to impress: his main goal is in bringing in such local superstars is to introduce his students, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college, to successful individuals who have similar backgrounds to them, and to encourage them to broaden their horizons.
Indeed, the broadening of horizons is an apt way to characterize Prof. Chrol’s approach to teaching as a whole. Several years ago, he began to invite outside speakers to come to Marshall, and he regularly attends regional conferences with students. He incorporates oral Latin into his Latin classes; he uses Classcraft in beginning Latin; he regularly teaches Reacting to the Past modules; he mentors both students who want to teach Latin and those interested in graduate programs. Such horizon-broadening is well within the realm of ordinary mortals, and indeed, might well result – as it has at Marshall – in regularly filled courses offered by Prof. Chrol, and increased enrollments across the program, including in Greek language courses. But there is also a faint whiff of the super-human about his team-taught major seminar on horoscopes, divination and astrology, which involved a field trip to the top of the parking garage for a hands-on session in ornithomancy and the casting of horoscopes according to several ancient systems.
Prof. Chrol shines in the classroom, but according to one student he is even more impressive in situ, as it were, in Rome, giving lectures on a remarkable range of topics. His passion for the Classics, construed extremely broadly, was noted by many of his students and colleagues, as were his accessibility to students and his evident concern with their progress as students and as human beings. We are, then, extremely pleased to honor Del for his exemplary teaching and service to the profession with this Award for Excellence in Teaching of Classics at the College level.
Shelley Haley, professor of Classics and Africana Studies at Hamilton College, wears many hats. As a traditionally trained Classicist, she teaches a wide range of courses in Latin, Greek, and Classical Civilization. As an expert in North Africa during the period of classical antiquity, she teaches courses on Ancient Egypt. And as Shelley Haley, she challenges all her students and colleagues to see the effects of racism and gender discrimination in the ancient world, in modern scholarship, and in the world around us. In a course on Xenophon, she asks students to consider the treatment of the “other” by the author; in a senior capstone class for classics majors, she taught a segment on “Constructions of Difference in Ancient Greece and Rome.” Her course “Unraveling Cleopatra”, which is cross-listed with Classics, Africana Studies, and Women’s Studies, exposes the many biases that underlie the reception of the character of Cleopatra.
Haley’s knowledge and passion for Classics is widely appreciated by Hamilton students, who all comment on her broad knowledge, caring mentorship, and teaching approach which challenges them to look beyond the narrow confines of the whiteness of Classics. Many students comment on how Haley challenged them to be conscious of their own biases, and the lifelong benefit they derived from her approach. One student, now a physician, writes “What I admire most about her teaching style is how she challenges students to analyze ancient sources and modern receptions of antiquity through an intersectional feminist lens… I often use what I learned about intersectionality from her in my patient interactions to provide more holistic medical care to patients.” A recent graduate notes “From her fascination with Cicero, to her flawless mastery of the Latin language, to her research on thousands of years of Egyptian antiquity, it was always clear that Professor Haley’s passion for these subjects was unwavering, and that she could never rest complacent in her existing pool of knowledge. Shelley Haley is always pushing to learn new things in her own field, ensuring for her student that no lecture or assignment will ever feel stale.” Students and colleagues alike note her tremendous skill in and passion for mentoring. It should come as no surprise that students at Hamilton College awarded Haley the Samuel and Helen Lang Prize for Excellence in Teaching in 2015.
We are honored to recognize Professor Shelly Haley for her devotion to teaching and mentoring with the SCS’s 2017 Award for Excellent in Teaching of the Classics at the College Level.
Mary Pendergraft has been a Classics professor at Wake Forest University since 1988 Throughout that time, Prof. Pendergraft has tirelessly and masterfully taught, advised, and mentored countless students. As all of her letter writers note, she is extraordinarily generous with her time and is always available to students. Wake Forest University acknowledged her devotion to mentoring her students by giving the Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Advising in 2016. She has played an important guiding role in undergraduate honors theses and M.A. thesis committees at Wake Forest. As a letter writer put it, "that, for me, is the mark of 'teaching excellence' […] someone from whom you continue to learn, even 20 years after you have left her classroom." She has endless reserves of wisdom, energy, and patience for her students and her memorable classes are clearly only the beginning of her lasting effect on their lives. One letter writer stated that Prof. Pendergraft "helped me to achieve through her rigorous training, tireless encouragement, and wise counsel." It is no surprise that CAMWS recognized her superlative teaching with its award for Excellence in College Teaching in 2013.
This would be in itself a notable legacy but Prof. Pendergraft has somehow found the time to develop and sustain substantive dialogues between college professors and high school teachers. She has consistently organized panels, delivered papers, and published articles about pedagogy and mentoring. As an expression of their gratitude for all she has done to support and promote the field of Classics, Prof. Pendergraft received a Merita Award from ACL in 2011, and an Ovatio from CAMWS in 2013. She has been active in the National Committee for Latin and Greek and is the current coordinator for the Tirones Project that mentors new Latin teachers. She has also been heavily involved with the JCL at the state and national levels. Prof. Pendergraft has been an integral part of the AP Latin Readings for the past twenty years, and she has served in every leadership role there including that of Chief Reader (2007-2011). When the AP curriculum substantially changed, Prof. Pendergraft offered many workshops, seminars, and webinars devoted to helping teachers to teach that material effectively. She has been advisor for Wake Forest's Eta Sigma Phi chapter every year since 1994, and she has encouraged many students over the years to attend and present at the annual national conference. Unsurprisingly, a large number of those students look back on these conferences as important moments in their professional careers. Under the kind and expert eye of Professor Pendergraft, many of her students have gone to graduate school and become teachers and professors all over the country in Classics and related fields.
This is just a small sampling of the astonishing amount and variety of teaching and service she has done for students and teachers at the local, regional, and national levels. She has in a sense been mentoring the very field of Classics itself by directly inspiring so many students to remain engaged with the ancient world as teachers and as avid lifelong learners. As one letter writer puts it, "Mary Pendergraft has taught us all, and she is deserving of the award for Excellence in Teaching at the College Level." The committee could not agree more and we are delighted to honor Prof. Pendergraft this year with this Award for Excellence in Teaching of Classics at the College level.
Citations by the Excellence in Teaching Awards Committee members, Eric Casey, Laurel Fulkerson, and Jennifer Sheridan Moss