Two PBSC Professors Receive Teaching Award

Two Palm Beach State College professors have been selected by their peers for the 2015 Stewart Distinguished Teaching Award.

Professors Nancy Pennea, who teaches math on the Belle Glade campus, and Jeannette Sullivan, who teaches Introduction to the College Experience at the Palm Beach Gardens campus, were surprised with the annual award during a convocation Aug. 19, where college leaders welcomed faculty and staff for the start of the 2015-16 academic year. The award comes with a $5,000 cash prize.

“As a faculty member, this is an unparalleled honor,’’ said Sullivan, who began her career at PBSC in 2003. “I’m just so proud to be a part of this college. When I think of the things that highlight the last decade of my life, they all have to do with being hired at the college and being taken on as a full-time faculty member.”

A nine-member committee of faculty and administrators selected the winners. Pennea and Sullivan are among 18 professors to receive the award since it began in 2006.

“It feels good to be recognized,’’ Pennea said. “It does so much for morale and for wanting to continue to do a better job.”

As part of the self-nomination process, professors must demonstrate that they go above and beyond the norm by developing, implementing, assessing and analyzing innovative learning practices to help students succeed in reaching their academic goals.

Sullivan was selected for incorporating service learning into her students’ intensive career exploration assignment. Rather than just research and present on a career, students are required to conduct five hours of service learning at a work site related to the career field.

Pennea was selected for a statistics course assignment centered on a popular quote attributed to Benjamin Disraeli and made popular by Mark Twain: “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies and statistics.” Through directed discussions, group activities and a culminating group project, she taught students a different approach to statistics and how to discern whether statistical procedures observed in the media have been used appropriately.

“For students, they have to see some practical and relatable application to what they are learning, and I think that’s what made these applicants shine,’’ said Dr. Anita Kaplan, dean of bachelor’s degree programs, who chairs the awards committee. “You have to figure out a way to engage students and make them participants in the learning process.”

ABOVE: Nancy Pennea and Jeannette Sullivan.