Instructor Profile: Recipients of the 2015 Award for Distinguished Teaching

2014-2015 Issue 2

Instructor Profile: Recipients of the 2015 Award for Distinguished Teaching

The School’s Spring 2015 Convocation Ceremony will include a presentation recognizing the recipients of the 2015 Award for Distinguished Teaching. All three teachers were selected based on their outstanding contributions as instructors, and were strongly supported by both letters of nomination from their students and student feedback from course evaluations.

Dr. Andrew Churchill, Instructor, McGill Writing Centre

Andrew Churchill’s students range from doctoral candidates studying English literature to first-year undergraduate engineering students for whom English is a second language.  He was deeply touched to learn that this diverse group of students had nominated him for a teaching award.

“The focus for me is that it’s student-nominated,” he says. “It’s an affirmation of working hard and caring about teaching, and that’s one of the things that makes it most meaningful.”

Dr. Churchill earned his PhD in Education from McGill University, and he’s been an instructor here since 2008. His teaching philosophy is student-focused, emphasizing classroom engagement and self-reflection as essential to students’ ability to communicate effectively.

“A lot of the commitment to teaching involves long, quiet hours of preparing course activities and marking. It’s nice to know that those hours are appreciated by the very people I hope will benefit from them.”


Erin Reid, English Instructor, Language and Intercultural Communication

Erin Reid has a Bachelor of Education in English as a Second Language Education and over six years’ experience as an English language instructor, but she’s only been with McGill’s Language and Intercultural Communication’s English program for three years – the minimum requirement to be nominated for the School’s teaching award. So how did it feel to be recognized so early in her career?

“I felt very honoured,” says Reid. “I was actually surprised by how meaningful it was to me, and that I would feel so touched. It’s largely based on student feedback, and the students are at the heart of what we do as teachers.”

Reid sees teaching as a form of compassion and love. “That may sound strange or flakey, but I think it makes a difference. I always try to put myself in the students’ shoes.” As a result, Reid’s priorities, along with teaching the course content, are developing her students’ confidence and making their time together dynamic and fun. “Even though I should leave the classroom feeling exhausted because I give so much of myself, I usually end up feeling energized from interacting with the students. More than anything, I want my students to walk out of the classroom feeling excited about English and saying ‘yes, I can do this.’”


Robert Saggers, Leadership Program Instructor, Career and Professional Development

Over the course of Robert Saggers’ career, he’s worked in human resource management, as a principal at a major consulting firm, and has accrued over 25 years of experience operating his own consulting practice. He’s been teaching at McGill since 1988, and he still keeps in touch with many of his former students, some of whom have become instructors themselves. “I feel so blessed by the students I’ve had over the years,” says Saggers. “I’ve learned so much from them.”

Many thoughts ran through his mind when he was told he’d won the Award for Distinguished Teaching: “Obviously I was happy,” he says, “but it was a humbling experience as well. I appreciate that I am valued by my students, and validated in the sense that students recognize what I am doing.” He believes his role as a teacher “is to create an inclusive environment in which learning is fun, intrinsically rewarding, and each student is motivated and can best learn.”

This past semester, he invited four former students to visit his Developing Leadership Skills class and share with the students what the course meant to them. “It’s so gratifying to hear them talk about the course,” he says, “and how their professional lives have been changed.”

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