Whether their drive to teach came from a parent or from a student’s eyes, the recipients of the Pittsburg State University 2013 Outstanding Faculty Award each share a strong passion for education.
Troy Comeau, director of broadcasting; Aesha John, assistant professor of social work; and Tatiana Sildus, associate professor of curriculum and instruction, received the Outstanding Faculty Award at Apple Day ceremonies on March 7.
Comeau, a member of the PSU faculty since 1998, said he discovered his drive to teach while pursuing his master’s degree from PSU in 1997.
“When I started my graduate degree, I had an opportunity to teach as a graduate assistant,” he said. “The first time I saw the lights go on in the students’ eyes, when I could really tell they were learning something, was the moment I knew I wanted to teach.”
John, in her second year at PSU, has long been driven to educate students of all ages.
“I’ve always taught, for as long as I can remember,” she said. “I taught in a grade school in India. I taught at a special school in India. When I moved to the U.S., it seemed like the natural choice to keep teaching. My two years at PSU have made me feel that it was the correct choice for me.”
Sildus, a PSU faculty member since 2002, said she was inspired by her mother to choose education as her career.
“My mother was a high school teacher,” she said. “It’s the never-ending nature of learning that appeals to me. I like teaching. I like learning. I learn as much from my students as they can learn from me. In my classroom, everyone is a student and everyone is a teacher.”
The Outstanding Faculty Award was established as part of the Apple Day celebration in the early 1980s and has been through several name changes. The Student Government Association coordinates the selection of the winners, who are nominated and selected by PSU students.
This year’s recipients said they were humbled and honored by the recognition.
“It’s always nice to be honored by the students,” Comeau said. “We have such outstanding faculty here at Pittsburg State, and I’m very proud to be among them. This is really a double honor.”
John said she was not expecting to receive the award so soon into her career at PSU.
“It was a very pleasant surprise, to say the least,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve been here long enough to deserve this award, but I’m going to try very hard to live up to it now that I’ve received it. It’s a true honor for me.”
Sildus said the award is especially meaningful since it comes from student selections.
“This makes me feel very special,” she said. “There is no higher honor than to be nominated and selected by the students.”
Dr. Troy Comeau
Dr. Aesha John
Dr. Tatiana Sildus