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For the fourth time since the recognition program was established in 1990, Old Dominion University has two winners in the same year of Dominion Virginia Outstanding Faculty Awards. The program is sponsored by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and funded by the Dominion Foundation.

Sharon Raver-Lampman and Don Zeigler are among a select group of 12 statewide winners of the prestigious awards, who were honored Feb. 23 in Richmond. Each receives a cash award of $5,000. To date, ODU has produced 19 winners in the highly competitive program.

A professor of early childhood special education, Raver-Lampman has taught at the university for 20 years. Students consider her demanding, but do everything possible to get into her classes. She continually ranks as one of ODU's most effective teachers.

Raver-Lampman recognizes that special educators must develop precise teaching skills, have sound behavior management techniques, tailor individual programs for each child and consistently measure learning to support children with disabilities. Special education requires a unique combination of academic flexibility, professional discipline, patience and compassion. In her university teaching, Raver-Lampman not only teaches "best practices," she models them.

Brandy Manning-Bradley, who teaches disabled preschoolers in Chesapeake Public Schools, says that Raver-Lampman "draws her students in by offering real-life scenarios and challenges her students to think critically." She adds, "She teaches with a passion that is contagious by teaching with her heart."

In addition to her demonstrated excellence in teaching, Raver-Lampman has a substantial record of scholarship, which includes more than 110 professional publications, including three books. Much of her research has focused on identifying strategies for improving the functioning of children with disabilities from birth to age 9. Her textbook, "Intervention Strategies for Infants and Toddlers with Special Needs: A Team Approach," is considered a seminal work in her field. It is used as the required textbook at more than 40 universities.

Her teaching and scholarship have earned her three prestigious Fulbright Scholar Awards - to the Czech Republic, India and Ukraine.

"I know this sounds corny and unfashionable, but I love teaching," Raver-Lampman says. "I love writing, serving on journal boards and conducting research. I see it as my responsibility to strive to be an outstanding teacher. My years of classroom teaching left me with a profound sense that those studying to be special educators have an almost sacred commitment.

"All educators do, of course, but special educators have an additional responsibility because they often enter a family's life in a time of crisis. The work special educators do literally changes lives."

Zeigler, professor of geography and an ODU faculty member for 26 years, was selected for his award in the program's special Teaching with Technology category.

He was among the first at the university to use the Internet and CD-ROM technology for asynchronous course delivery. On the rare occasions when he has a face-to-face class, it is likely to be in a mediated classroom with Internet resources at his fingertips. Whether mediated or face-to-face, however, Zeigler designs each course to be personal, interactive and visual.

His Geography Connects course, which is targeted to secondary school teachers and was initially delivered via the Web, is now on CD-ROM. Zeigler appears on video clips in each of the five units of the course. From St. Marks Square, he provides a mini-lecture about Venice; from Peru, one about Machu Picchu; and from the original Megalopolis in Greece, one about America's Boston-to-Washington megalopolis.

Zeigler also teaches one course each spring via TELETECHNET, ODU's televised, asynchronous distance learning system.

His ability to handle large numbers of students has improved immeasurably with the advent of new teaching media and technologies, including the BlackBoard course delivery system. Always game for trying new things, Zeigler used BlackBoard to begin his introductory Cultural Geography course a month prior to the start of the fall 2004 semester.

From his travels that August to Scotland, England and Poland, he utilized his course home page on BlackBoard and an e-mail distribution list to deliver some early "lectures from the field."

Zeigler's central, driving ambition is to make geography relevant. He notes, "When I finished my CD-ROM/Internet course, Geography Connects, I received the following e-mail from Dewey Crockett, a faculty member at the Tangier Island Combined School: 'This course was fantastic! Not only was it helpful for me as a Virginia teacher, but it also met my particular need for distance education since I live on Tangier Island. The course material was well planned and executed. The video clips brought it alive.'

"Every semester since then, when I teach online, I think of Dewey Crockett taking my course in one of the most isolated places in the state. He became my symbol of the importance of distance education."

This article was posted on: February 21, 2006

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