At a recent Zoom meeting honoring faculty and staff, Dr. Susan English said, “This is such a talented group.” That was evident as the Thomas Nelson Faculty Reward and Recognition Committee handed out awards to dozens of people.
She also noted that the annual Vanguard, Faculty Focus and Gator-Aide awards celebrated “your skill, your heart, your engagement with students, your passion.”
Among the highlights of this year’s presentation were the Learning Environment Awards, which are entirely student-nominated. This year, they were broken down into four categories: bronze (nominated by at last one student), silver (nominated by three students), gold (nominated by between 5-12 students) and platinum (nominated by 15 or more). There were 75 bronze winners, nine silver, five gold and one platinum: Anthony Fotinos, who has been at the College since 2005. He’s an assistant professor and Chair of the Communication, Arts, Business, Humanities and Social Sciences department.
Here are comments from three students who nominated Fotinos:
- “Goes above and beyond to make Zoom classes as close to a face-to-face classroom environment as possible. Professor Fotinos is knowledgeable and enthusiastic during lectures. He goes above and beyond to make himself available for any questions and gives each student the tools to be successful.”
- “Professor Fotinos is probably one of the most animated and vivacious professors I have come across since being with Thomas Nelson. He goes above and beyond in lecture to truly get the point across and thoroughly explaining the answers to even the most redundant questions. He tries to really get you to come out of your shell. He exudes a copious amount of patience toward his students and genuinely wants each of them to walk away taking something from each lesson they did not have prior to the lecture. He is the exemplary of what a professor, mentor and true role model should be to the students of Thomas Nelson. The college is very fortunate to have Professor Fotinos on the faculty list; as am I for have taken his course.”
- “Professor Fotinos made sure every single student felt heard and seen. He encouraged all of us to be brave and confident because we were valuable. I am now able to speak about any topic thanks to the tools he shared in class and during office hours. These tools, while academic, have created a personal growth within me that I will carry for the rest of my life and career as a nurse. He is truly a great educator and human being. I looked forward to every class with him, and all my classmates flourished through the semester.”
Below is the list of the other winners of the awards. The Vanguard and Focus awards are for full-time faculty. The Character of Thomas Nelson Award is for administrative and professional faculty. The Gator-Aide Award is for all classified and P-14 staff.
Vanguard Award ($1,000 each): Michelle Alexander, Amy Anderson, Valerie Burge-Hall, Jean Frank, Alandra Giron-Simmons, Lynsey LeMay, Jennifer Martin, Ed Morris, Stacey Schneider, Jackie Spencer and Michael Sundblad.
Character of Thomas Nelson Award ($1,000 each): Steven Felker and Lauren Williams.
Faculty Focus Award ($225 each): Peter Berquist, Jackie Blackwell, Michelle Dean, Alandra Giron-Simmons, Sofoklis Hiotellis, Sarah Linden-Brooks, Jenn Morey, Joshua Ostraff, Stacey Schneider, Patrick Smith, Cece Wheeler and Julie Young.
Gator-Aide Award ($100 each): Terry Allen, Sharon Dotson, Doreen Dougherty, Julie Lambert, Keisha Matthews, Kris May, LaRai Petway, Randie Trestrail, Jason Vance and Eve Walker.
English, the Vice President of Academic Affairs, noted how difficult it was for students and staff this past year, but both groups shined.
“Thank you so much for the work that you’ve done that really allows our students to step up and be the best that they can be,” she said of the faculty and staff. “That only happens through the work that you do in the classroom, that you do online.”
Dr. Porter Brannon, the College’s president, echoed that sentiment.
“I have to start by thanking you all for what you’ve been through in the pandemic,” she said, and not just for what they did in the classroom. “For what you’ve done as coaches, as cheerleaders and as supporters for students.”