Outstanding TA Award
Rachael Shapiro: 2015
Congratulations to Rachael Shapiro, doctoral candidate in the Composition and Cultural Rhetoric program, for being awarded a 2015 Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. The award recognizes teaching assistants who demonstrate excellence in teaching. 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.
Asked to comment on her award, Rachael responded, "I am so honored to have been nominated by the incredible undergraduate students and faculty in the Writing Program. Here I have found an intellectual hunger, commitment to a full spectrum of writing spaces and possibilities, and concern for the ethical consequences of writing that have inspired me in and beyond the classroom. I will hold the award as a reminder of the Writing Program's spirit and impact on my pedagogy, a reminder to carry these values forward as I begin my work with students at a new university this fall."
The following are excerpts from letters nominating Rachael for this award:
It is rare to find a graduate student with Rachael's maturity, pedagogical vision, dexterity in teaching a wide range of courses, and ability to convey her insights about teaching to new and inexperienced teachers. I am grateful for Rachael's outstanding service to the Writing Program, and I am confident that she deserves to be recognized as one of the university's outstanding teaching assistants.
—Lois Agnew, Writing Program Chair and Director
Rachael is an excellent and devoted teacher whose pedagogy reflects a sophisticated understanding of the relationship between theory, program and institutional goals, and practice. Her teaching is driven by a commitment to fostering understanding of how issues pertinent to writing and rhetoric—such as the creation and circulation of knowledge, and the ideologies of representation—shape our work as writers and responsible citizens. However, it is also concerned with elements of writing more obviously related to application: for instance, document design, genre, awareness of audience and context, digital media, and editing. She sets a high intellectual bar for her students, compelling them to deepen their writing using complex source material, even as they compose and revise in multiple genres and media platforms.
—Tony Scott, Director of Undergraduate Studies
It has been my pleasure to witness her development as a scholar, teacher, and administrator. In the time I have known her, Rachael has demonstrated a unique ability to move amongst the various realms of academic life with an intellectual insight and collaborative ease that all but insures her professional success. Indeed it is her ability to imagine the pedagogical possibilities of each of these locations that makes her uniquely qualified for this award.
—Steve Parks, Director of Graduate Studies
One of the things I most admire and respect about Rachael is her belief that a Writing Program can and should play an active role in the intellectual life of undergraduate students, in part by becoming a space where issues of diversity and difference are interrogated and complicated, but also by forging meaningful links with faculty and staff across campus and in other teaching sites, and by designing and offering courses in which students are encouraged to raise and respond to important issues—issues that impact their lives, and issues that impact the lives of those around them.
—Anne Fitzsimmons, Teacher Education Coordinator
Throughout my time as a student of hers, I can recall many characteristics of both Shapiro's personality and her teaching abilities that helped me grow as a writer and learner. Shapiro worked hard to successfully establish a trusting and respectful academic atmosphere within the classroom. The tasks given and her approach brought an emphasis on creativity and ability, which encouraged me to push myself beyond limitations. The course made me a much better analyst, critical thinker, and speaker/presenter.
—Jerry Gomez, Student
I admired and valued Rachael's pedagogical style for a number of reasons. First of all, I respected how frank she was with us about her own experiences with writing. I specifically remember her telling us that writing is an endless learning process and that she herself was not a perfect writer. Such openness made Rachael easy to talk to about any qualms I had in regards to writing. Secondly, I appreciated the thorough feedback she would provide students with about their work. I remember that Rachael always gave her students constructive criticism; she made positive comments to encourage us as young writers and suggested something we could improve on.
—Claudia Aviles, Student
Rachael Shapiro deserves an outstanding teacher award because of her dedication to students' development as writers and complete understanding of the fundamentals of academic writing. She ensures every one of her students completely understands every concept and gives many examples to understand many perspectives of each writing concept. In addition to being dedicated to teaching the art of writing, Rachael makes every attempt to form relationships with her students in order to better develop their writing.
—Ana Bahrani, Student
Not only was her class fun and incredibly engaging but she was a very caring professor who really wanted her students to succeed and find themselves in their writing. She made me confident in my ability as a writer and was the impetus to me picking up a minor in creative writing. She is whip smart, hilarious and an all around awesome person to learn from and be around.
—Reba Saxon, Student
I knew this would be a class unlike any other I took in my four years at Syracuse University. Rachael's teaching style was unorthodox in the best way possible. Unlike other structured English/language classes I had taken in the past, Rachael's course was hands-on and required a high level of participation.
Rachael opened my view of the University, and expanded my expectations of the responsibility I hold as a student and member of this University. Rachael effortlessly merged class material with real-world examples as to continually educate us to controversial issues and she worked to provide us with the ability to research on our own and interpret social linguistics and mixed media as to form our own opinions on the matter. Rachael helped me to understand my capacity as a student and as an activist, and set an expectation for the quality of educators that work at this institution.
—R. Devin Nonnenman, Student
Rachael wants her students to invest themselves in their writing and be reflexive as they do so. In addition to making me love the process of writing, Rachael was supportive and approachable as a teacher. She gave me the technical skills I needed to reach this stature of writing that would make me a competitive college candidate. Furthermore, she was available for any questions or thoughts I had. [T]he best learning happens when students are comfortable enough to reach out to their teachers, and Rachael has been nothing but gracious, generous and always willing to lend a hand.
—Thalia Giraldo, Student
Rachael pushed me to discover my creative limits and be myself, to allow my authentic beliefs and skills to shine through the content of my work. I have never before been allowed to feel so open, so able to take academic risks, so ready to face new communicative domains with confidence and excitement. This class positively altered the way I saw the world at SU, how I saw the world of writing and communication, and, honestly, how I saw myself and the way in which I function in this society.
—Meghan Donahue, Student
She taught us the meaning of finding the author's "exigence" rather than just writing a "summary." Through homework and short exercises done in class, I was able to pick up new researching techniques, such as cross-referencing. Towards the middle of the semester, I started my own research paper on Sex Trafficking: Nepal to Mumbai. Professor Shapiro was always there during her office hours to help me on my research when I was unsure of how I wanted to present my ideas on paper.
—Clara Echeverria-Ng, Student
I believe that Mrs. Shiparo 's personality also made her a great teacher. Not only was she good at her job, but she was also funny, relatable and compassionate. Rachel reached out to me in an email after the third class because she was concerned that I might have felt uncomfortable in the class. She didn't push me to speak up but the small gesture of asking me how I was doing in the class allowed me to feel more comfortable.
—Lawrencia Teris, Student
I appreciated that [Rachael] was always organized, friendly and willing to help us understand each topic. Each class we had discussions about the readings, and given time to share our thoughts amongst each other especially when we were introduced to topics such as Cosmopolitanism and Globalization. [She] made my writing 205 experience great and I thanked her for that, and because of that I think I found a new niche for writing.
—Ashani Logan, Student