“I teach students to communicate across geographic, linguistic, and personal cultures. I relish the challenge of helping students understand that learning Spanish is a skill and an intellectual exercise. By making instruction pertinent to each individual and the world in which they live, I help my students own their educational journeys. My teaching is guided by the belief that students are in the best position to be successful when instruction is personal, pertinent, and impactful. To bring these needs together, I developed an instructional approach that I call ‘teaching to the edges.’”
Kessel, Thomas Nelson Community College’s World Languages Department Head, received the 2017 Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence. Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS) presents the prestigious award annually to one teaching faculty member who distinctly represents the system’s teaching excellence. During the New Horizons Conference in April, Kessel received a VCCS stole and $5,000.
A distinguished educator known across Virginia, the assistant professor is chairman of the VCCS Regional Center for Teaching Excellence ̶ Tidewater Region. The VCCS has five centers for teaching excellence throughout Virginia that afford a forum for dialogue about teaching by focusing on four themes: learning, teaching, self-development, and innovation. As chairman, Kessel provides leadership in delivering professional development to faculty members at Thomas Nelson, Eastern Shore, Paul D. Camp and Tidewater community colleges.
Kessel has numerous accolades and special recognition to his credit including a 2013 Marshall Brannon Foreign Language Association of Virginia (FLAVA) Excellence in Teaching Award. His affiliation with FLAVA spans more than 20 years.
He became a Thomas Nelson faculty member in 2010 and is a National Board Certified Teacher in Early Adolescence Young Adult World Languages Other than English. His teaching career includes 14 years with Virginia Beach City Public Schools and 16 with Hampton City Schools.
Kessel believes teaching has many rewards and greatest of all is “providing my students with valuable communication skills that will enhance their quality of life.” He has also taught Spanish at Old Dominion University, Hampton University, and Tidewater Community College. He has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Spanish from San Diego State University.
In addition, he was Director of the Governor’s Spanish Academy for the Virginia Department of Education for over 15 years; FLAVA conference coordinator for more than 12 years, and chairman of numerous Southern Association of Colleges and Schools site visits. Kessel also served as President of FLAVA and the Southeast National Board Certified Teachers Network. In 1990, he received a Virginia Distinguished Foreign Language Teacher Award.