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Teaching awards for vet scientist and linguist

Veterinary science lecturer Nicola Smith receiving a Vice-Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence from Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas.

A veterinary science lecturer and a linguistics lecturer have been recognised for their outstanding teaching skills.

Nicola Smith, a senior lecturer in the School of Veterinary Science, received the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence in recognition of her dedication to nurturing a holistic and relevant learning environment. 

Dr Victoria Kerry, a lecturer in linguistics in the School of Humanities, received the Early Career Teaching Award. She was recognised for her teaching philosophy which involves creating inclusive, safe and engaging teaching spaces for her diverse linguistic students, both in online and face-to-face teaching scenarios.

The awards were presented by Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas in a ceremony at the Manawatū campus yesterday. Professor Thomas said teaching was one of her favourite roles as an academic – “the stuff that gave me so much joy”. 

“Every time I come to one of these events I am immensely proud of what I see and what I hear and the work that is done by our colleagues.”

The citation for Ms Smith says her caring approach is demonstrated by the way she developed the Integrative Studies or “Spine” courses in the Bachelor of Veterinary Science qualification. She was praised for her focus on “making assessments more authentic and learning more active, creating an environment that assists students to self-manage, develop effective study habits, and value being life-long learners”.

Ms Smith, whose teaching practice is described as “authentic, reflective and engaging”, said her love of teaching stems from a daily feeling that “I’m making just a little bit of a difference in my students’ lives. And I learn just as much from them as they do from me.” 

She says honest and positive staff-student relationships, student-centred course design and refining her teaching in response to student feedback are at the heart of successful teaching. “For me it is the key to success that moves a course beyond “good” to something memorable.”

One student said Ms Smith “really listens and genuinely cares about students, and has gone above and beyond to make sure we feel heard and supported.”

At the award presentation she said, “I love my job so to get recognised for doing it just seems like a gift”.

Linguistics lecturer Dr Victoria Kerry, who was unable to attend the ceremony to receive her Early Career Teaching Award.

Learning from students

Dr Kerry, who is on parental leave and had her award collected on her behalf by colleague Dr Karen Ashton, was also commended for “continually seeking to improve her practice”. As well as using innovative approaches, such as virtual reality, she is is committed to transforming her teaching practice to be Tiriti-led, her citation says.

A love for her subject and her dialogue with students are at the core of her passion for teaching. 

“I really enjoy hearing from the students about their experiences, ideas and different interpretations on the topics we cover. It's invigorating to come out of a class having learnt from them too. I also love linguistics and having the chance to talk about language all day is a luxury,” she says.

She credits “amazing” teachers at primary and secondary school with inspiring her love of reading and language. Her Massey colleagues in linguistics have helped her develop as a lecturer, she says. 

“In particular, Dr Martin Paviour-Smith was the one who took my initial love of words at undergrad level into a fascination with longer texts and the societal influences of language.”


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