2017 Distinguished Teaching Award Winners

2016-2017 Issue 1


Each year, the students of McGill’s School of Continuing Studies nominate and award instructors with the Award for Distinguished Teaching. Receiving a nomination, let alone winning the distinction, is a testament to the excellence of McGill instructors and their dedication to education.

Helle-Mai Lenk

Helle-Mai Lenk has been an instructor with McGill since 1983 – but that is not all she has done. Helle-Mai earned her Master’s in Sociology of Education from the University of Toronto and went on to teach abroad in Egypt and Mexico, helping to bring English language skills to those who want to learn them. At McGill, she instructs Elementary English 1 with the intensive program of the Language and Intercultural Communication unit and academic writing with the McGill Writing Centre.

She is very grateful to the students of Elementary English 1 for nominating her for the award. Helle-Mai believes that one of the reasons she resonates so well with them is that she does not confine elementary English learning to basic needs and commands. “Even though we go over [basic vocabulary], I make it a point to talk about impactful topics,” she said. When she teaches vocabulary as it relates to chores, she may implicitly discuss gender roles and culture by asking her students, “Who does the chores at home?” The resulting discussion proves effective as her students engage personally with even the most basic lessons.

In addition to pushing the depth of discussion in her class, Helle-Mai also realizes the importance of treating each student as an individual. The students in her Elementary 1 course are “truly diverse – even though it is an elementary class, they are rarely true beginners.” She noted the discrepancies in the range and variety of skills present in her course, in addition to the demographic differences. One of the more challenging aspects, according to her, is “sizing up the class at the beginning for the term. We have to teach for them, and the goal is to engage this very disparate group.”

After all is said and done, Helle-Mai Lenk is an instructor that cares deeply about her students and is always looking to provide the best possible environment for them to learn. “It is wonderful to be recognized by the students,” she said. “I was thrilled to know they appreciate the work and planning that goes into their education.”

Joseph Armanious

“For an outsider, taxation is a mountain of a daunting and puzzling set of rules.” Joseph Armanious, CPA CGA, LL.M. Fisc has his Bachelor of Commerce, Accountancy, from Concordia’s John Molson School of Business and his Master of Taxation from the University of Montreal. Here at McGill’s School of Continuing Studies, Joseph teaches Taxation 1.

“Generally, taxation is a very different course than regular accounting,” he said. “It is a hybrid between law and accounting and is often brand new to the students.” In order to better help his students acclimate to this new frontier, Joseph avoids rote memorization of tax laws and opts instead for a logical framework. He introduces the Income Tax Act and the underlying objectives of the government pertaining to the act. Students in his course are evaluated based on their ability to identify tax issues, apply knowledge to formulate a response to these issues and evaluate alternatives to recommend a course of action. Group work is also included, as students are tasked with making a 12-minute presentation via video on a researched topic in taxation.

Going forward, Joseph plans to incorporate more electronic research in the course.

In response to his nomination and award, Joseph said “thank you to all my students for nominating me. It was a privilege teaching them at an outstanding institution such as McGill and I wish them and the graduating class inspiring and fulfilling careers.”


3 Responses to “2017 Distinguished Teaching Award Winners”
  1. Francine Glele says:

    Helle-Mai Lenk Is an exceptional professor who marks the life of her students by the quality of her teaching. I was Lucky to meet her and she gave me the love of English language. She is funny, friendly, but above all professional. She deserves this distinction and I Will be very happy to have her again as a professor.

  2. Regis says:

    I attended her class back in 2000, and she was the best teacher i had during my whole year training (2000-2001)