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Outstanding Professors Receive Awards for Teaching, Scholarship

From left: College President Joann La Perla-Morales; Shirley Wachtel, Faculty Scholar Award winner; Vice President Mark McCormick; Kathy Shay, Teaching Excellence Award winner; Linda Scherr, dean of Arts and Sciences; and Sara Blomquist, Excellence in Teaching Part-Time Award winner.

Three outstanding professors at MCC were recently honored: Shirley Wachtel, professor of English, was selected as the 2017 Faculty Scholar; Kathy Shay, of the Mathematics Department, received the 2017 Excellence in Teaching Award; and Sara Blomquist, of the English Department, received the 2017 Excellence in Teaching Part Time Award.

“Dr. Wachtel approaches her scholarship in two major directions: her longtime research in survival and Holocaust studies and her work on reading pedagogy,” said Susan Altman, chair of the selection committee. “Her writing about survival and the Holocaust has recently been presented at the Middlesex County Chapter of Brandeis Women and at Catawba Valley Community College in Hickory, North Carolina where she did a reading of her book “My Mother’s Shoes” to more than 500 students who had been assigned the book as part of their coursework. This scholarship has been shared with her MCC students and used to advance writing in her courses at the college.”

Dr. Wachtel’s pedagogical research on reading and basic skills resulted in the 2012 publication of “Spotlight on Reading.” In addition to her research and writing on pedagogical approaches in her discipline, Dr. Wachtel has also published extensively for adults and children, including works of fiction and poetry. Her poem, “A Summer’s Evening,” won second prize in the Dream Quest 2015 Contest.

“Her commitment to ongoing research in these important disciplines emphasizes Shirley’s unwavering commitment to lifelong learning and scholarship,” Professor Altman said.

Dr. Shay brings a variety of teaching methods into the classroom.

“She is truly a passionate master teacher,” Professor Altman said. “A lifelong learner, Kathy brings innovation and new technologies to the classroom, continually working with students to instill a love of learning in addition to teaching them how to learn. As evidenced by her strong teaching philosophy and examples of her unique classroom resources, Kathy always seeks to improve her teaching. Committed to the success of her students, Kathy emphasizes the process of problem-solving and critical thinking. Student projects integrate not only mathematics, but also writing and communication and invite her students to embrace the discipline in innovative ways.”

Dr. Shay has also been involved in CELT, the Center for the Enrichment of Learning and Teaching, since its inception. CELT members serve as leaders in the College community by providing expertise, support and resources to enhance learning, teaching and scholarship.

“Through CELT, Kathy shares her love of teaching and learning with the wider MCC faculty community,” Professor Altman said. “She challenges us to think about how we approach pedagogy in the classroom and raises up all of our teaching.”

Professor Blomquist, an adjunct faculty member, emphasizes connectivity and multiple learning options as well as individual approaches to learning.

“She is one of the rare individuals blessed with both a compassionate heart and a flexible mind,” Professor Altman said. “Sara is a caring individual who stresses to her students the application of what they are learning in the classroom. Encouraging active learning, her project-based assignments create a strong sense of student engagement in her classroom. Using a variety of teaching resources, activities, rubrics and a unique first-day packet, Sara engages her students in innovative ways. She is committed to helping her students achieve success in their coursework and beyond.”