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Sophie Lampard Dennis Earns 2014 Outstanding Educator Award

For her proven contributions to the scholarship of teaching, Sophie Lampard Dennis, Landmark College associate professor, was awarded the Outstanding Educator Award from the College Reading and Learning Association (CRLA) at the annual meeting in Weston, Massachusetts on March 14. Active for 47 years, CRLA recognizes talented educators who are distinguished by their dedication to student success. Dennis’s award comes just one year after faculty member Dorothy Osterholt earned the honor in 2013. With a list of publications and presentations on topics related to college student success, Dennis’s work gives insight and practical tips for teaching in higher education.

Dennis has presented five times at CRLA, and she published four articles this year in newsletters and in the journal About Campus. The theme of Dennis’s scholarship is capturing “what works” in the classroom. With an eye toward improving educational outcomes for students who learn differently, she writes and speaks about collaborative learning, peer-instruction, and barriers to postsecondary success. “She is an engaged educator,” said First Year Studies Department Chair Debbie Gassaway-Hayward. “Her teaching is passionate and compassionate.”

When asked how she finds opportunities to write and present, Dennis described a snowball effect that begins with attending conferences. She said, “One thing leads to another professionally, especially as you network at conferences. Had I never left the classroom, I would have missed out on many opportunities, but I had to start by stepping outside my comfort zone and trying something totally new.” For Dennis, trying something new meant going out and speaking or turning her ideas into useful articles for practice-minded postsecondary faculty.

Dennis is an associate professor in the First Year Studies Department and a certified Wilson Language teacher. In fifteen years of working with students who learn differently at Landmark College, she has taught full-time, developed curricula, and obtained the newest level of Wilson certification in 2008, ‘Just Words,’ which she continues to employ. While busy in the classroom, Dennis contributes to the field and has published in peer-reviewed journals, newsletters, and blogs. In addition, she regularly presents at conferences, including CRLA, The International Conference on the First-Year Experience, and the University of Pennsylvania’s LD Symposium. Dennis is a Justice of the Peace in Marlboro, Vermont, where she has lived with her husband for 25 years.

Sophie Lampard Dennis’s Teaching Statement:

“I love the dynamic that often occurs in a classroom full of students! I draw energy and inspiration from my students and am often in awe of the courage it can take for them to engage fully in the classroom, given the history many of our students have with school. As a teacher in the First-Year Studies Department, I have the privilege of working with students new to Landmark College, and in many cases new to college itself. I believe that this first semester is a critical moment in their educational lives; they have the chance, at Landmark, to experience academic success, which in many cases may be for the first time. In other words, they have an opportunity in my class to begin to believe in themselves as students, and to develop an inquisitive mind and an academic eagerness that I hope will carry them through to a college degree. For me, this process starts with taking care to create opportunities for student success in my course, and this begins with careful consideration of the different learning styles I have in my classroom.”

Landmark College was the first institution of higher learning to pioneer college-level studies for students with dyslexia. Today, Landmark College offers two and four-year degree options, a graduate level certificate in universal design with technology integration, and summer programs for students who learn differently. The College is a global leader in integrated teaching methods for students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities, ADHD, and ASD. Students, faculty, and professionals from all over the world are drawn to Landmark College for its innovative educational model, designed through research and practice to help all students who learn differently become confident, self-empowered, and independently successful learners.

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