The Brantz Award is presented annually to a professor who exhibits commitment, dedication and passion in teaching First Year Seminar. The award honors professors who have enthusiasm, innovation and competence and who effectively connect the learning in the classroom to the life of a broader world.
Gray is assessment coordinator for the university’s General Education Program. She came to Appalachian in 2005. Gray also is an affiliated faculty member in University College where she teaches a First Year Seminar course. She additionally teaches in the university’s interdisciplinary studies program and graduate courses in Appalachian’s Reich College of Education.
Collaboration and a focus on life-long learning skills are crucial in Gray’s approach to teaching. “I teach with a deep and abiding wish to instill within the hearts and minds of students an enduring love of the process of learning and inquiry,” Gray said. “I teach with the intention of creating within students the openness, presence and emotional receptivity needed to challenge and elevate their ways of knowing.”
Students enjoy her approach to teaching. One student nominator wrote, “Dr. Gray has a way of bringing stimulating content into the classroom and really engaging students to think, and to think differently. She connects with students on a personal level, often making me want to continue our dialogues after class.” Another student wrote, “She created an environment that made it easy for students to share their beliefs with the class. Every day she came into the classroom, she took a subject that none of us knew anything about and turned it into something fun and enjoyable that we are all now knowledgeable about.”
Gray says her role in the classroom is that of a facilitator, creating an environment in which students are comfortable asking questions. “Anonymous feedback early in the semester allows me to respond quickly and adjust aspects of the course that are not working as intended,” she said. “I can honestly say I learn with my students. I teach with the primary goals of making shared meaning and connecting learners with each other, their community and the world.”
Gray has a Ph.D. from the California Institute of Integral Studies and a master’s degree from Rollins College. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida.
University College consists of the university’s integrated general education curriculum, academic support services, residential learning communities, interdisciplinary degree programs and co-curricular programming – all designed to support the work of students both inside and outside the classroom.