Orange Alert

2021 Outstanding TA Award Stephanie Jones

Stephanie Jones portrait

Posted on: May 7, 2021

Congratulations to Stephanie Jones, doctoral candidate in the Composition and Cultural Rhetoric program, for being awarded a 2021 Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. Selection for the Outstanding TA award is made by a university-wide committee of faculty recognized for their teaching excellence and is given to approximately the top 4% of all TAs campus wide.

In response to receiving this award, Stephanie says, “I am grateful to be recognized for my teaching during such an unprecedented time. Teaching at Syracuse University has been an enlightening experience, and I am honored to have had the chance to work with so many remarkable students. Looking toward the future, I hope that this non-traditional year has cultivated more empathy for the many ways we all show up in the classroom. I believe imagination is an expression of empathy and, in order to create lasting change within our field, we need to engage imagination as a transformative force that recognizes truth. We cannot continue to wait for change. We are the change—our ancestors' greatest dreams realized. Who we touch with our pedagogy shapes their tomorrow, so we must do this work ethically and with the grace we strive to instill in the future. I am hopeful this award is an indication that the change you bring changes your community and will create a society where we are all free.”

The following are excerpts from letters nominating Stephanie for this award:

“One of Stephanie’s great strengths is her ability to develop innovative course materials that reflect careful attention not just to the shared goals of the course, but also larger complex questions of student and teacher identities. In her second year with us, Stephanie volunteered to be part of a pilot project using Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime for WRT 105. The course featured a shared set of assignments and readings which I designed to help explore some of the difficult questions around race, literacy and power. Stephanie met with me to talk about her experience with the ways identities as teachers shape pedagogy and inform relationships with students—particularly what it means to be a teacher of color in a largely white institution. Stephanie came up with some very smart shifts in the design with these questions in mind. In my observation of her class that fall, the wisdom of these choices was made even more apparent. Students were excited to share their thoughts and ideas, and there was a sense of mutual trust and community in the classroom . . . . Her interest in pedagogy led to her selection as a member of the Lower Division Committee, which focuses on teaching and learning for our lower division courses, particularly WRT 105 and WRT 205. Stephanie brought important perspectives to the table, always with the same inviting approach she has in the classroom. She led a workshop in anti-racist pedagogy in our department, as well as presentations at two of our Fall Teaching Conferences—one on celebrating difference, and the most recent on teaching and technology.”—Jonna I. Gilfus, Director of Undergraduate Studies, Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition, Assistant Teaching Professor

“I have known Stephanie for three and a half years and have enjoyed working with her in various capacities. As Director of Undergraduate Studies and Chair, I’ve had the opportunity to mentor Stephanie as she joined our doctoral program and began teaching a wide range of courses in the department. I was also her professor in a graduate seminar on composition pedagogy and theory, where she excelled, producing a strong article that we continued to work on after the semester ended. Throughout these various experiences, Stephanie has proven herself to be a flexible and dynamic teacher, a committed scholar, and a caring and supportive mentor of other teachers . . . . At the time, I was Director of Undergraduate Studies, which allowed me to work closely with Stephanie as she developed curricula for WRT 105 and WRT 205, weaving her rich pedagogical training with the department’s course outcomes. I was impressed by how well Stephanie adapted to a new pedagogy while also making it her own.” —Patrick W. Berry, Chair, Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition, Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric

“I didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t expect to come across a black professor. My first encounter with one here at Syracuse at that. It may not be important to others, but to me, it means I can easily relate to someone or feel safer about going to them for something . . . . She was able to make the class appeal to all her students . . . . The thing about Professor Jones, is that she is a true teacher through and through. She helped us think critically for class, but also, taught us how to apply those skills to other classes and in life. She wanted to see us succeed. Not just in class, but throughout our time as students at Syracuse University. She was invested in our lives. Anytime a student invited her to see their extracurricular school projects or events, she did her best to be there. I invited her to a student short film screening, and she made it and enjoyed our films. It has an effect on you when a teacher shows interest in your success, just as she did for me . . . . Professor Jones is a teacher you want to come across in your life, and she deserves an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. She’s a blessing at Syracuse University and to all her students.”—Giordan Moore-Hair, SU recent graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in film