USC Aiken Professor Earns Teaching Excellence Award
Aiken, SC (03/18/2019) — The South Carolina Association of Middle Level Education, or SCAMLE, awarded Dr. Gary Senn the Dr. Jennifer L. Wilson Teaching Excellence Award.
This honor recognizes "significant contributions of a classroom teacher, literacy leader, or teacher educator who has had a significant long-term impact on the advancement of middle level teaching excellence in South Carolina schools or colleges and universities," according to SCAMLE.
The award's namesake, who was a faculty member at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, had a reputation throughout the state and nation "as a passionate teacher and a tireless advocate for young adolescent education."
The association believes Senn embodies these same attributes.
"I am truly humbled by this honor," Senn said.
This USCA Aiken professor's contributions to middle level education extend from local to state and national levels.
Senn participated in the development of the middle level education degree programs at USC Aiken. He has served as a faculty team member of the middle level education program since its inception. As a teacher educator, he has taught science methods courses for middle level education pre-service teachers and supervised field experiences in middle schools. He also works with graduate-level educators pursuing advancement in educational technology.
In his role as director of the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center, Senn works with middle grades teachers and students from across South Carolina. He oversees student programs involving middle grades students in inquiry-based, hands-on math and science. There are more than 80,000 visits to the Ruth Patrick Science Education each year.
Teachers also participate in professional learning opportunities at the RPSEC. Senn also provides support for pre-service teachers to gain experience by working with students in these programs.
In 2008, Senn established the Center of Excellence in Middle Level, Interdisciplinary Strategies for Teaching through a grant from the S.C. Commission on Higher Education. As the leader of the program, he established partnerships with middle schools and developed plans for professional learning for in-service educators. The professional learning sessions led to the development of traveling interdisciplinary trunks that are implemented in the partnering schools and are available to all middle grades teachers in South Carolina.
"The impact of [the Center of Excellence in Middle Level, Interdisciplinary Strategies] has extended across the state and nation," said Dr. Bridget Coleman, a colleague in the USC Aiken School of Education.
Additionally, Senn has served on the executive board for the S.C. Professors of Middle Level Education for more than eight years. During that time, he has served in officer roles, including president, president-elect, and past president. He also created and maintains the organization's website.
"His influence is felt in the structure of the group's meetings and their role in state policy," Coleman said at the time of Senn's nomination for the award.
He was recently elected to serve as president of the National Professors of Middle Level Education.
Senn's presentations and publications of research are numerous. He participates regularly as a presenter at the Association for Middle Level Education conference as well as at the annual SCAMLE conference. He has multiple publications in the SCAMLE journal; the Association for Middle Level Education journal; and Current Issues in Middle Level Education, the journal of the National Professors of Middle Level Education.
"I believe Dr. Senn exemplifies the characteristics of the Jennifer Wilson Teaching Excellence Award. His work has led to the advancement of middle level teaching excellence and continues to move us forward," Coleman said.