By Morgan Geyer, ’19

On December 11, 2018, the members of the Adjunct Faculty Advisory Committee (AFAC) for the University of Richmond School of Professional and Continuing Studies unanimously voted to grant the 2019 SPCS Innovations in Teaching Award to adjunct professors Drew Baker, C’08, and Ryan Conway, ’96, for their course, EDUC 538U Advanced Instructional Design.

The Innovations in Teaching Award is an annual award that recognizes adjunct faculty members for advancements in teaching along the fourteen dimensions outlined by the AFAC's standard for excellence and innovation. 

Baker and Conway’s Advanced Instructional Design course is taught as part of the School’s Teacher Licensure Preparation (TLP) program and equips future educators with the tools they need to design and construct their classes in engaging and impactful ways. 

Baker and Conway encouraged their students to make learning fun by throwing out conventional lecture-style teaching methods. Students learned how to creatively incorporate technology into the classroom and connect it to their teaching subject. 

Their innovation and creativity inspired two of their students, Eliza Cram and Kristen Litchfield, to nominate the two professors for the Innovations in Teaching Award. “The classroom where we met was a hive of ideas and innovation that we couldn’t wait to be a part of every Monday,” one of the students wrote in her nomination application. 

For Litchfield, Baker and Conway’s course concluded her experience in the TLP program and allowed her to take what she learned and apply it immediately to her career. “I believe Dr. Baker and Mr. Conway’s class was the perfect segue to send some of us off into the classroom to implement the strategies and techniques we learned,’ said Litchfield, who has just begun student teaching. 

However, the most important lesson Litchfield learned from Baker and Conway had nothing to do with using technology in the classroom. 

She said, “It’s so important that the students know you’re a person too, you care about their success, and you are ultimately there for them. If you have those relationships with your students, they are going to work for you, but it’s so important that you start to build them from the very first day.”

Baker and Conway will continue to serve as a resource for guidance and inspiration even after the conclusion of the course. One student noted, “After this class is over I will indeed be sad, but I believe that both Dr. Baker and Mr. Conway will be educators that I look up to and seek for advice in my future career as a secondary English Language Arts teacher.”

The Innovations in Teaching Award was presented to Baker and Conway at the School’s annual faculty awards ceremony, held during the Spring SPCS Faculty Meeting on January 10. 

Related Campus Units

Education Department

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Education
Adjunct Instructor, Education