Not content merely to implement successful teaching methods, Laurie Lyda was recently recognized by Catawba Valley Community College as an Excellence In Teaching Award winner for her willingness to invent new techniques to inspire her students. She is the daughter of Lincolnton residents James and Debby Lyda.
â€œIâ€™m drawn to activities that encourage creativity, critical thinking, writing, reading and social reflection,â€ said Lyda, who constantly searches for more effective ways to communicate with her students and sharpen her teaching abilities. â€œThere is nothing like seeing the spark of understanding in a studentâ€™s eye when they finally understand how to voice their ideas on the page,â€ she added.
Candidates for the Excellence In Teaching award must go through a three-step process: nomination by a fellow faculty member, completion of an application, and an interview with a committee made up of representatives from the collegeâ€™s board of trustees, the CVCC Foundation, Inc., academic and administrative representatives and former Excellence in Teaching award winners.
Criteria for the prestigious award include effective and innovative teaching techniques, leadership and skill in motivating high quality student performance, effective communication with students and colleagues, support of the total college mission and service beyond the classroom.
Lyda received a $2,000 cash award (that is funded 75 percent by the CVCC Foundation, Inc., and 25 percent by the college). Her name will be added to a plaque that hangs in the entry of the collegeâ€™s administration building listing all past winners. She will also enter the state competition among winners from the other 57 North Carolina community colleges.
She constantly reminds her students that no matter how difficult change is, improvement is always possible, using herself as an example. Fifteen years ago, she laughed when people told her she should be a teacher because she was so self-conscious and nervous in front of an audience. Today, itâ€™s something she does comfortably every day.
â€œIf I am a good teacher, it is because I have been taught well,â€ said Lyda, who also gives much credit for her classroom success to her work in 4-H. She is a member of the North Carolina 4-H Honor Club, the highest honor bestowed upon a North Carolina 4-H member.
Another big key to her success might sound out of place in academia. In various jobs as cashier, waitress, bookseller, editor, reporter, researcher and bank teller, she said one element remained constant: customer service.
â€œWhen I left my bank teller job to return to teaching, I was certain that I was leaving the customer service industry behind for good, but I was wrong,â€ said Lyda. â€œTelling a student that theyâ€™ve flunked a class is very similar to telling a customer that their account is overdrawn.â€
Lyda earned two bachelorâ€™s degrees and a masterâ€™s degree at Appalachian State University. She serves as an advisor to the Beta Eta Delta chapter of Phi Theta Kappa National Honor Society. She edits the humanities division faculty newsletter and website and mentors new full-time humanities faculty members.
She is also a contributor to CVCCâ€™s forthcoming freshman college textbook, â€œJourney to Success at CVCC.â€ She assisted in developing a Survey of Film as Literature class scheduled for the fall and is currently the co-chair of the campus Beautification Committee.
Lyda was named to Whoâ€™s Who Among Americaâ€™s Teachers in 2006 and is a member of the Modern Language Association, College English Instructors of North Carolina, the National Council of Teachers of English and Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. by Special to the LTN