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Three GTA's earn special commendation

By Susan Trulove

Spectrum Volume 19 Issue 30 - May 1, 1997

Virginia Tech's Graduate School has recognized three students as outstanding graduate teaching assistants this spring with a special commendation. The students are Heath Demaree, a Ph.D. student in psychology from Scarsdale, N.Y.; Katherine Lynde, a master's student in English from Blacksburg; and Alan C. Taylor, a Ph.D. student in family and child development from Ft. Collins, Col.

In evaluating Demaree as an instructor, one student asked that he be cloned. Most students reported that they enjoyed his classes--even at 8 a.m. Typical comments were: "I really enjoyed your class and the fact that you were willing to help your students in any way possible"; and "a great teacher; concerned with conveying material and making it interesting."

Associate Professor Roseanne Foti said Demaree's Theories of Personality class had 50 people in it "and Heath called on his students by name."

He also taught a social psychology lab, was co-supervisor in a clinical practicum, and provided supervision within the clinical-neuropsychology practicum team specializing in head injury, stroke, seizure disorder, learning disabilities, emotional disorders, and related aspects of psychopathology.

Demaree's undergraduate degree is from Princeton University. His focus at Virginia Tech is neuroscience, studying the brain's relation to emotion, behavior and cognition. His research has been published in professional journals and he is active as a clinician, offering an anger-management group with Professor Richard Eisler. He completed a clinical externship at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Salem.

Demaree will graduate this year and next year will be doing a clinical internship at the University of California at Los Angeles Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital.

Lynde's students in her English-composition class, "Changing Perceptions and the Power of Language," praised her for helping them learn to express themselves, and to learn about other people's views as well as their own. "I've never missed this class unless I've been really sick. Katherine is a great teacher," wrote one student.

Discussion, reading, music, film, art, toys, news articles, role playing, guest speakers, vocabulary quizzes, and personal journals are Lynde's tools for teaching students to observe and write. She was responsible for two sections of first-year composition and..."She not only has the commitment, interest, and knowledge necessary for effective teaching, but truly cares for her students," wrote an English faculty colleague.

Communications Studies Professor Marshall Fishwick has also asked Lynde to lecture in his classes. He notes "Her enthusiasm is contagious and there is always a lively discussion....She reaches out to the students....Her preparation is thorough, her manner assured" and the students applaud at the end of the class.

Faculty members in English also noted that Lynde is an outstanding student and has contributed to the department by serving on the Graduate Committee. She has published and been a presenter on classical literature and popular culture, was an invited speaker at an National Popular Culture Convention, and is assistant editor of "An American Mosaic," an American Heritage publication.

Lynde earned an associate degree from New River Community College, and her bachelor's degree in English from Virginia Tech. She is on the executive board of the New River Community College Alumni Association, and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa at Virginia Tech, the Golden Key National Honor Society, and the Popular Culture Association.

Taylor's ability to engage students in "creative, relevant, and thought-provoking interactions" is remarkable, say colleagues. Why? Because in the two years that Taylor taught Marriage and Family Dynamics, he never had fewer than 100 students in a class.

Taylor used lecture, discussion, and audio visuals and related class material to contemporary events, movies and TV shows to increase student involvement in discussion, reported family and child development Professor Michael Sporakowski. Taylor "also conveyed respect and concern for all students and made it clear they could contact him outside of class," GTA colleague Mary Vail said.

Students themselves said, "instruction was insightful, informative, and...allowed me to learn more about the most important aspect of my life, family."

By using examples from his own family, Taylor "gave a more personal feel to the class," noted one student. Taylor also used guest lecturers, role playing, questions to the class during lectures to keep students involved. "He challenges us daily to involve ourselves in the class. He makes the classroom a pleasant place to be," wrote another student. Students also commented on Taylor's energy, on his skill in explaining material, and repeatedly on his respect for them as students.

Taylor's bachelor's and master's degrees are from Brigham Young University.