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Though it was the first year Harold and Elizabeth Hackler were not able to attend the reception for the recipients of the award named for them, they were not forgotten.
Contributions from the Hacklers led to the creation of the Hackler Award for Teaching Excellence. This year, Jenel Cavazos and Monika Linehan were named as the 25th and 26th winners of the award at the reception Thursday night at Cameron-Duncan.
The two professors met with the Hacklers at their home Thursday afternoon.
“This is the highest honor at Cameron,” said John McArthur, Cameron president. “(The Hacklers) remind us education is a lifelong journey and they remind us of the importance of giving back.”
Cavazos is an assistant professor in the university’s department of psychology. She was introduced by her student Jacob Jardel, who told the crowd “it is a joy to see what she does in the classroom.”
Passionate about psychology, Cavazos said she is equally passionate about connecting with her students. She has found ways to hold their attention for longer than just a class period.
“I’m still a little shocked (about getting the award),” Cavazos said. “I work hard to capture the interest of students and to be accessible because the best teachers I had were easy to talk to.”
Introducing Linehan was student Manda Shae Dickinson. Linehan is an associate professor in the department of art and Dickinson an aspiring artist.
“The student-teacher relationship is a lot like an artist with a painting,” said Dickinson.
“Students start out as just a sketch and each stroke of paint is an experience and the teacher, a guiding hand. This woman treats every student like a masterpiece.”
Linehan was a graphic designer in Houston, Texas for 21 years after she graduated from Cameron but had wanted to be a teacher since she was a child. She received her chance when a position to teach art at Cameron came open.
“I’m amazed to be here tonight,” she said.
“I’m fortunate to be back at Cameron because I got so much out of my education here, it’s nice to give back. I try my best to be a role model and to get to know each of my students as an individual.”
Every recipient of the award receives a two-part monetary award. The first part is a stipend that is given to them in their regular paycheck. A second amount is given to them to be put to use for professional development.