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Jessica Folkart receives 2011 Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching


BLACKSBURG, Va., April 25, 2011 – Jessica Folkart, associate professor of Spanish in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, received the university's 2011 Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching.

Created in 1982 by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association, the Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching is presented to two Virginia Tech faculty members each year. Recipients are selected by the university’s Academy of Teaching Excellence from among those faculty members who have received certificates of teaching excellence from their respective colleges in the preceding three years. Each recipient is awarded $2,000 and is inducted into the Academy of Teaching Excellence.

A member of the Virginia Tech community since 1998, Folkart has expanded and strengthened the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures by revising the undergraduate Spanish curriculum, and she played a key role in the development of the department’s new Master of Arts degree program.

And in addition to these many contributions, Folkart’s students consistently rate her as one of the most outstanding classroom teachers in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures -- a department known for its teaching excellence.

“One of Dr. Folkart’s greatest gifts is to create a classroom environment of trust, support, and rigor where students are inspired to excel,” said Richard Shryock, professor and chair of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures, who nominated Folkart on behalf of the department. “Her engaging sense of humor captivates students and motives them to push themselves.”

Folkart serves as the faculty advisor to more than 100 Spanish majors and minors, and she evaluates the Spanish transfer credit earned in the United States or abroad for all the non-Spanish majors and minors throughout the university.

As the department has grown in recent years, Folkart has overseen the hiring of nine of 16 Spanish faculty and currently serves on the search committee for three new assistant professors of Spanish. She also supports the hiring process for faculty of other languages in the department.

Her impact as a teacher extends beyond her department and the courses she teaches as she has frequently served as a guest lecturer in other humanities courses and the Faculty Development Institute, and she trains high school teachers across Virginia in her role as the director of Virginia Tech’s Intensive Second Language Institute.

Folkart is a member of the Modern Languages Association of America, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, and the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, and she is vice president-elect of the International Association of Hispanic Women’s Literature and Culture. She received her bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary and a master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Kansas.

The College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech includes programs in the arts, humanities, social and human sciences, and education. The college seeks to illuminate human experience and expression by creating works of lasting scholarly, cultural, and aesthetic value; empower individuals to engage critically with the complexities of a diverse, global society; and foster the inquiry, innovation, and growth that produce individual and social transformation.