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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Aaron Ansell


The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Aaron Ansell, visiting assistant professor of Religion and Culture, for successfully and even brilliantly combining short lectures with class discussions and audio-visual materials to stimulate students in a variety of courses.

Aaron Ansell likes to teach difficult material and, without watering it down, make it clear and comprehensible to everyone in his classes. He teaches both Theories of Popular Culture (HUM-COMM 3034) and Multicultural Communication (HUM-COMM 3204). During the fall semester of 2013 he will teach the very first master's seminar for the Religion and Culture Department’s new degree in Material Culture and Public Humanities. He recently earned a Master Online Instructor certificate this past summer at Virginia Tech.

Aaron came to Virginia Tech with a first-rate teaching record. At Monmouth University in New Jersey (his previous appointment) he taught courses ranging from Introduction to Cultural Anthropology to Food and Culture to Language and Culture to Brazilian History and Culture. In 2010, Professor Brian Greenberg wrote of his work with a first-year seminar, explaining that Professor Ansell "provided an excellent advertisement for what Monmouth has sought to achieve in developing" such courses, and that he had no recommendations whatsoever for improving Professor Ansell's classroom activities. Already, Aaron has served Religion and Culture well; this year (2013-14) he will join the department’s curriculum committee.

Aaron Ansell came to Virginia Tech only last year, but he has already earned kudos from faculty and students alike, and at Monmouth University he was nominated for a teaching award. In May 2013 he received a Thank a Teacher note acknowledged by the Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER). In addition, a colleague who team-taught with Professor Ansell during the fall 2012 semester explained that he was “powerfully impressed with [Aaron Ansell’s] intelligence, insight, and ability to reach out and educate every member of [their] shared class.”

Professor Ansell’s ability to work with students has already produced several spontaneous student responses. "I'm writing today to thank you for all that you did for me [this] spring semester," one student told him in a note dated May 2013. "With your patience [and] understanding, you helped me to finish the semester a lot more successfully than I had hoped.” Another student wrote of his work with her during the summer 2013 semester in an online version of HUM-COMM 3204 that he initiated and taught: "Thank you for all your patience and help during the summer class. . . . It was challenging and interesting, and I learned a great deal. My goal of increasing my awareness of how miscommunication can occur was met and then some." In a letter a colleague wrote after working closely with him during the fall 2012 semester, the colleague highlighted Professor Ansell’s "enthusiasm and engagement with exciting concepts and their usefulness in understanding the world around us." This colleague added that, “Aaron undertook last-minute assignments in [two] fall 2012 Tech courses he was asked to teach--and I do mean *last minute*!--not only seriously and successfully, but with real panache. . . . He is admired by his Tech colleagues, and I only hope he will soon become a regular and more widely recognized member of our university's faculty.”


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A list of the past winners is available.