CSM ad­junct fac­ulty mem­ber wins ex­cel­lence award

Snee hon­ored for work in English cour­ses at the col­lege

Maryland Independent - - Community -

When Denise Snee of La Plata steps into one of her 1010T English classes at the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land (CSM), she looks out on her stu­dents wait­ing to learn about gram­mar, writ­ing struc­ture and lit­er­a­ture, and she said she is struck by the va­ri­ety of their back­grounds. Snee, the win­ner of this year’s CSM An­nual Fac­ulty Ex­cel­lence Award Hon­or­ing Ad­junct Fac­ulty, teaches classes that in­clude dual-en­rolled high school stu­dents, vet­er­ans and mid­dle-aged ca­reer chang­ers as well as tra­di­tional-age col­lege stu­dents at the col­lege’s La Plata Cam­pus.

“The di­ver­sity in the class­room is a plus, but it is also a chal­lenge,” Snee said in a news re­lease. “To try to reach them all. That is the chal­lenge.” Her peers at CSM say Snee ab­so­lutely achieves this goal. “Denise is a thought­ful, car­ing and hard­work­ing fac­ulty mem­ber. Her will­ing­ness to go the ex­tra mile for stu­dents as a mem­ber of the in­no­va­tive English 1010T team is proof of her ded­i­ca­tion to stu­dent suc­cess. She can of­ten be found in the ad­junct tu­tor­ing room, work­ing one-on-one with stu­dents af­ter class, help­ing them to im­prove their writ­ing,” said Pro­fes­sor David Robin­son, in­terim chair of CSM’s Di­vi­sion of Lan­guages and Lit­er­a­ture. “In my view, she is a true ed­u­ca­tor.”

CSM Pro­fes­sor Erich Hintze, a co­or­di­na­tor for the English 1010T course, de­scribed Snee as “a star … an up-and­be­yond moon­shot tal­ent” in a ref­er­ence pro­vided for the ex­cel­lence award se­lec­tion.

“”For the last sev­eral years to now, she posts some of the depart­ment’s high­est gains in in­comes/out­comes mea­sure­ments, posts the high­est re­ten­tion rates of any­one who teaches ENG 1010T and posts, time and time again, the very best suc­cess and com­ple­tion rates of any ad­junct in LAN … over the last 10 years.

“Quite sim­ply, Ms. Snee is in­cred­i­bly gifted and ded­i­cated to the stu­dents. She knows them by name af­ter the first class,” Hintze said in the re­lease. “She walks among them, sits down with them, en­gages in their lives, and pulls them aside, all to in­ter­ject her­self as an ac­tive teacher to lift the stu­dents. Her classes are en­gaged, alert, ready and fun. It is great to watch.”

Snee earned her bach­e­lor’s de­gree in English, cum laude, at Prov­i­dence Col­lege in Prov­i­dence, Rhode Is­land, and her master’s in English at the Univer­sity of Rhode Is­land in Kingston, Rhode Is­land. Since then, she has taught English in the United States, Ja­pan and Guam as the mil­i­tary fam­ily moved to new as­sign­ments. She taught on­line cour­ses to vet­er­ans and ac­tive duty mil­i­tary mem­bers world­wide with the Amer­i­can Mil­i­tary Univer­sity. She has been teach­ing at CSM since 2012.

Snee pulls on this close to 40 years of ex­pe­ri­ence as an ed­u­ca­tor as she works to nudge each of her CSM stu­dents to­ward suc­cess, wher­ever their start­ing point. “You de­velop dif­fer­ent tricks,” she said. “You be­come a re­ally good tap dancer.”

She has found that the Writ­ers’ Workshop ap­proach to teach­ing works well in the di­verse CSM class­room. This method, which was de­vel­oped and pro­duced by the Teach­ers Col­lege Read­ing and Writ­ing Project pro­gram at Columbia Univer­sity, en­cour­ages fre­quent teacher and peer re­view of work and more in­ter­ac­tion dur­ing the learn­ing process. This ap­proach al­lows time for Snee to work oneon-one with her stu­dents. “It lets me an­swer their ques­tions pretty much when they come up,” Snee said. She be­lieves that by giv­ing more im­me­di­ate feed­back and as­sis­tance, she cuts down the frus­tra­tion level of stu­dents try­ing to master new skills.

“I be­lieve in it, and I be­lieve it will take them as far as they want to go,” she said. “It’s up to them.”

CSM rec­og­nized Snee for be­ing the re­cip­i­ent of this year’s An­nual Fac­ulty Ex­cel­lence Award Hon­or­ing Ad­junct Fac­ulty at the col­lege’s 18th Win­ter Com­mence­ment held Jan. 19 at the La Plata Cam­pus. Snee said that win­ning was “hum­bling.”

When Snee first learned of the honor, she went home to tell her hus­band. Af­ter hear­ing the news, he asked her why she didn’t look hap­pier.

“I’m not sure I de­serve it,” Snee said she told him. She noted that teach­ing in­cludes pe­ri­ods when you don’t see im­prove­ment and when you don’t see ev­i­dence of learn­ing, and those times can make teach­ers doubt them­selves. It is the mo­ments when Snee sees that im­prove­ment or new un­der­stand­ing that make teach­ing a plea­sure for her, she said.

“It’s made me re-ex­am­ine my teach­ing,” she said of the award. “Maybe that’s what it’s de­signed to do. En­cour­age you to work up to it.”

De­spite some con­flicted feel­ings, Snee said that it meant a lot to her to be hon­ored for her work in the class­room. “I’ve been do­ing this a re­ally long time. It’s nice to get some recog­ni­tion,” she said in the re­lease.

Snee’s hus­band is re­tired mil­i­tary, hav­ing served in the U.S. Navy, and the cou­ple has two chil­dren, both cur­rently at­tend­ing uni­ver­si­ties. Out­side of her work at CSM, Snee is an avid walker, partly, she said, be­cause she owns two Labrador re­triev­ers who re­quire the ex­er­cise. She also runs sev­eral days a week as she trains for the Across the Bay Run 10K over the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay Bridge, which takes place in early Novem­ber.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Ad­junct Pro­fes­sor of English Denise Snee of La Plata is con­grat­u­lated by Pro­fes­sor Mike Green af­ter be­ing awarded the An­nual Fac­ulty Ex­cel­lence Award Hon­or­ing Ad­junct Fac­ulty at the Col­lege of South­ern Mary­land’s 18th Win­ter Com­mence­ment cer­e­mony, held Jan. 19 at the col­lege’s La Plata Cam­pus.

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