York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD) celebrated the start of the academic year with a fall faculty reception and teaching awards presentation that honoured two faculty members.
On Sept. 18, the AMPD eLearning Award was presented to Professor Teresa Przybylski, and the AMPD Teaching Award was given to Sessional Assistant Professor Monique Johnson.
AMPD Dean Sarah Bay-Cheng opened the event with a few words marking the start of the academic year as a special time of new possibilities.
“As I begin my first year with you, I want to acknowledge and thank all our faculty and staff for your commitments to each other and for your continued efforts to create an exciting and rewarding learning environment for our students,” she said.
She also thanked retiring faculty for their service, before moving the ceremony to the awards presentation.
Marlis Schweitzer, chair of the Department of Theatre, read a message from her colleague Professor Shawn Kerwin to introduce the Przbylski as the recipient of the AMPD eLearning Award.
Kerwin, in her message, talked about her hesitancy toward Przbylski’s desire to create an Introduction to Design for Theatre course that included an online component, as well as her push to increase the class size in order to open opportunities to more students.
“Design work involves ‘stuff;’ models, drawings, entire theatre spaces in smaller scale. How could all of this ‘stuff’ possibly all fit into a room with twice as many students?” Kerwin’s message read. “I need not have worried. I saw that every year, Teresa continued to modify this course, continued to change aspects of it to respond to the evidence she found within the class.”
In her own professional work, she said, she has come to realize the value of online and digital experiences for students.
“So Teresa, thank you. Thank you for the desire to develop this course. Thank you for the continuing work you put into this course, constantly working to make it better. Thank you for your care and heart that you put into teaching all of your students. Perhaps mostly, thank you for teaching me something,” said her message.
Sarah Parsons, chair of the Department of Visual Art & Art History, presented the AMPD Teaching Award to Johnson, who joined the department last summer on a one-year contractually limited appointment.
Johnson was handed responsibility for revamping the introductory survey in Art History, teaching a survey in the history of photography, teaching two courses in her specialization of the history of photography, teaching the graduate museums seminar, and, currently, she is teaching a spring lecture course on 20th century art, said Parsons.
“Making full use of e-learning tools, her carefully designed courses introduced students to a wide diversity of content as well as the practical and critical interpretive tools students need to engage with art and architecture,” she said. “Monique’s work with graduate students included mentoring them in teaching. Several of the TAs in the survey course went out of their way to tell me how much they had learned from Monique and how included and respected they felt by her incredibly organized and generous approach to teaching.
“We feel honoured to have had Monique with us in Visual Art and Art History this year,” said Parsons.