Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) professors Paulette Reneau, Ph.D., and Ann Marie Cavazos, J.D., are the recipients of the 2015 Faculty Innovative Teaching Awards that recognize faculty members for their ongoing commitment to student success and innovative approaches to facilitating learning.
After joining the FAMU faculty in 2011, Reneau has taught both undergraduate and graduate courses while maintaining an active research program that also includes mentoring students. Reneau, a molecular evolutionary biologist, is currently working as an assistant professor in the FAMU Department of Biological Sciences. She also serves as the coordinator of the Learning Assistant Program, a key initiative in support of the College of Science and Technology’s efforts to increase student success in STEM disciplines.
Reneau said she believes students’ classroom experiences are framed not only by a professor’s ability to provide information, but also by the ability of the students to use the information provided to ask questions and think critically about the world around them.
“Teaching is like a dance, and I am constantly crafting a rhythm and setting a pace from which my students can begin to form the steps that culminate into a coordinated motion,” Reneau said. “Teaching is doing, and in the classroom I am constantly effecting action from students, as I am genuinely excited about what I teach.”
Cavazos is an associate professor of law and director of the Legal Clinic and Pro Bono Program at FAMU College of Law. Cavazos has worked as a defense litigator for over ten years, sat on the bench for four years, and held various administrative and leadership positions prior to joining the FAMU College of Law faculty.
She received her undergraduate degree from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and her Juris Doctor from Temple University Beasley School of Law.
Cavazos explained that at her core she is a traditionalist, but she understands the need to change her teaching approach to better prepare law students for the changing legal marketplace and the world.
“I strongly believe in a hands-on approach to all teaching and learning especially in the legal field,” Cavazos said. “Law firm employers are looking for graduates to ‘hit the ground running’ and because these employers are no longer willing to do much on-the-job-training, it is imperative that students are trained with skills in the classroom.”