Professor Reynolds “Rennie” Scott-Childress, an associate professor of history, has been awarded the title of full-time Teacher of the Year by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS).
Each year, faculty from across the LAS nominate their colleagues for this honor. An ad hoc committee of past award winners and members of the LAS Senate then review the nominations. The Dean of LAS, James Schiffer, then considers the committee’s suggestions and chooses two professors, one full-time and one part-time, to be named Teacher of the Year.
“I felt honored and proud [to be chosen] and that I really needed to clean up my desk,” said Scott-Childress.
He said he attributes his success in the classroom to a strategy based on student participation. Rather than lecturing, he encourages students to figure out crucial elements for themselves within the framework he provides.
He recently created a group called “Teaching Circle,” where he and five other professors observe each other in the classroom and discuss the merits of different teaching styles.
According to testimonials on ratemyprofessor.com, his style has received positive feedback. Nearly half the student comments hail him as one of the best professors at New Paltz.
“Honestly my favorite teacher at SUNY New Paltz,” said one student on the website. “The class is a lot of reading and participation, but really was enjoyable. He is one of those few teachers who really does care about the well-being and future of his students. [I] will definitely be taking more of his classes.”
Professor Joan Perisse, an adjunct English professor, was also honored. She was named part-time Teacher of the Year.
Perisse and Scott-Childress will each be given a $1,000 stipend to support professional development, like attending a workshop or conference. They will also lead a workshop for their colleagues about teaching methods.
To commemorate their achievements, their names will be engraved on a plaque, along with all past honorees, in the lobby of Jacobson Faculty Tower.
Besides students at SUNY New Paltz, Scott-Childress has taught inmates at the Shawangunk Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison in Wallkill and will continue education classes at Marist College.
“The only place I haven’t taught is at the South Pole,” he said, “That’s where I’m going next!”