Two Palm Beach State College professors were recently named the 2014 winners of the Stewart Distinguished Teaching Award, which began in 2006 with a grant from the Douglas and Virginia Stewart Foundation, for their innovative work engaging students.
Christopher Schmersahl, at the Belle Glade campus, and Mike Sfiropoulos, at the Lake Worth campus, were announced the winners during the convocation, where PBSC leaders officially welcomed faculty and staff to the new academic year.
“I am just so thrilled to be recognized for this achievement. When you love what you do and put all your heart into it, the gratification that your efforts have paid off is all the reward you can ask for,” Sfiropoulos said.
“I’m pleased to be recognized in this way,’’ Schmersahl said. “I also know that I could not have done it without the support and encouragement of my fellow faculty.”
Schmersahl, who joined PBSC last fall, was selected for teaching writing and rhetorical skills using “ethos, pathos and logos,” the critical thinking skills of argumentation and logic. Through the analysis of television commercials, print ads, example essays and lectures in his English Composition I course, students created their own commercial for a fictional product or service using literary devices. Students then individually wrote response essays.
Schmersahl holds a master’s degree in English from the University of Missouri in St. Louis and a bachelor’s degree in English and philosophy from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.
Sfiropoulos was honored for a series of lessons titled “Edutainment: Learning English through Television” for his advanced English course. Lessons were designed to promote engaging and entertaining ways to deliver instruction and connect the content to student lives, while at the same time encouraging students to think critically about the usage of the English language they are exposed to through TV or other media.
Sfiropoulos has taught at PBSC for 10 years. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and linguistics, and a master’s degree in linguistics, from Florida Atlantic University.
“They were very engaging kinds of activities that took everyday occurrences and even electronic media as a way to get students to be excited about the use of language,’’ said Dr. Anita Kaplan, dean of bachelor degree programs.
ABOVE: Christopher Schmersahl