SALISBURY, MD ---Two members of the Samuel and Marilyn C. Seidel School of Education and Professional Studies are this year's winners of the Salisbury University Distinguished Faculty Award. Honorees must demonstrate outstanding achievement in teaching, service and professional development including scholarship and research. This year's winners are Dr. Nancy Michelson, associate professor in the Department of Education, and Dr. Victoria Hutchinson, associate professor in the Department of Physical Education.
Michelson has devoted her career to championing a child's right to read, from assisting children and their teachers with innovative classwork and programs, to mining the canon of children's literature, from nursery rhymes to Harry Potter, for ways to entice the young into a world of imagination and thought.
Since joining the SU faculty in 1995, Michelson has played a pivotal role in developing reading programs, directly and indirectly affecting the training of hundreds of new and veteran reading teachers, and through them, thousands of Eastern Shore children. I believe I was nominated for this award because of my dedication to serving the needs of my students," she said. This dedication has most often been expressed by forging connections-between students and the families they will serve as classroom teachers; between the university and local community; and introducing to often hard working and time-strapped Eastern Shore educators helpful ideas and programs culled from the field of reading nationally.
A few highlights of her work include:
--Founding director of the John and Florence Simonds May Literacy Lab, named in memory of two popular SU professors, to help area children in their struggles to learn to read. From humble beginnings as a set of bookshelves in the Education Department., the May Literacy Lab under Michelson's guidance, has expanded to accessible and welcoming rooms at The Camden House at 1212 Camden Ave.
--Coordinator of the Master of Arts in Teaching Program (a collaborative with the University of Maryland Eastern Shore) which brings idealistic students, often non-traditional professionals from other career fields, into the classroom.
--Officer and active member with the Eastern Shore Reading Council. She has served on its executive board, including president, for four years, and co-chaired the Young Authors' Contest, enticing hundreds of area children into the pleasures of creative writing.
--Nationally she has represented Maryland on the Field Council of the National Reading Conference and served on the Political Action Committee of the International Reading Association.
--Author of some half-dozen publications, she is a regular presenter at state and national conferences.
--She is winner of the students' Outstanding Advisor Award.
Prior to her current award nomination, Michelson was, in the words of student Rachel Elben, "In my heart, and the hearts of many of my fellow classmates, already honored as a distinguished member of the faculty."
Faculty have now caught up with students.
Hutchinson, a 12-year faculty member, is "by any standard, a master teacher," said Dr. K. Nelson Butler, professor of physical education. She "brings a boundless energy and passion to her professional responsibilities … that deserves recognition." Dance educators, colleagues, and students agree.
Dr. Hutchinson's dossier ranks in the top 5 % " of dance education professionals in the country, said Dr. John Wilson, professor emeritus of dance and international studies at the University of Arizona. She has created a "gem-like program which has succeeded competitively in Maryland and the region under her well-focused leadership and initiatives."
As a scholar, as a teacher, as a colleague, Victoria is one of the best," said Karen Kohn Bradley, director of graduate studies in the Department of Dance at the University of Maryland College Park. "Victoria is … a wonderful role model for students." Hutchinson holds three degrees in dance and has created more than forty dance works. Her list of awards and honors include the University of Arizona Creative Achievement Award, the American Oil Company/John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Award of Excellence for Performance, and study in India of dance and music as a Fulbright Scholar.
"One of the most dedicated capable professionals that I know--artistically, administratively, and professionally," added Dr. Jane Bonbright, executive director of the National Dance Education Organization, outside of Washington, D.C.
While Hutchinson established SU's dance minor, she values her interdisciplinary work with colleagues in other departments and schools on campus, including elementary education, the performing and visual arts, and general education. Like all artists and good educators, "she takes risks," said Dr. Patricia Richards, associate dean of the Seidel School. An innovative teacher who uses dance as a framework for examining issues of diversity, Hutchinson is a faculty mentor for integrating technology into both studio and lecture courses. Her noteworthy service includes the Board of Directors for the American College Dance Festival Association Board of Directors, chair of the 2001-02 Seidel School's Dean Search Committee, and member of SU's General Education Task Force.
For young dancers, Hutchinson demonstrates a passion for her chosen field which "inspires students to go beyond a normal choreographic vision … to delve within and create from the heart," said Christiana Moore, past president of the SU Dance Company.
"My most valuable and memorable experiences in college have been those spent working with Dr. Hutchinson," added Gretchen Lieb.