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Feb. 25, 2014/For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Lauren Whitaker, 336-734-2891, whitakerl@uncsa.edu



WINSTON-SALEM – Six faculty members at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) will receive Excellence in Teaching Awards for the 2013-14 school year. They are Tadeu Coelho and Allison Gagnon from the School of Music, Caroline Kava from the School of Drama, Susan McCullough from the School of Dance, Nola Schiff from the School of Filmmaking, and Beth Thompson from the High School Academic Program.

The Excellence in Teaching Awards were established by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors in 1994 to encourage, identify, recognize, reward and support good teaching at each of its 17 constituent institutions. In addition, one recipient from each campus will receive a university-wide teaching award from the Board of Governors. That award includes a $12,500 stipend, a commemorative bronze medallion, and recognition at commencement exercises. System-wide winners will be announced by the Board of Governors in March.

At UNCSA, recipients are chosen from nominations by students, alumni and peers.

Tadeu Coelho joined the School of Music in 2002 as a member of the flute faculty and is currently an associate professor. Nominations from his students, peers and alumni noted Coelho’s ability to inspire outstanding performance and to model excellence. “He is able to demonstrate what he wants from you,” wrote a student.  “He has a complete control over the instrument and a full knowledge of what he talks about. This keeps me constantly inspired to be better every time, no matter how unattainable the goal may seem.”

An alumnus who studied with Coelho noted, “I remember being in awe when I noticed a pattern: everyone, no matter what level, sounded better after only twenty minutes of working with him.”

A colleague said, “He is exactly the teacher I hope to be one day. He is incredibly smart, knows his instrument, is the most effective instructor I have ever met, and is a role model on and off the stage.”

Allison Gagnon is director of the Collaborative Piano Program in the School of Music, where she has been on the faculty since 1998.  She created UNCSA’s graduate program in collaborative piano, a program that is unique in its field. “Her graduate curricula is meticulously developed and executed,” wrote a colleague. “I cannot think of any other graduate program where so much attention and contact time would be given to every student.”

Nominators wrote of her tireless passion for teaching and learning, and of her inspiring artistry. “As a collaborative professor, she is totally aware of every person in the room - and manages to meet them where they are to bring them to the next level,” noted a student.

A peer said Gagnon is “a wonderful, supportive colleague whose recognition is long overdue.”

Caroline Kava joined the faculty of the School of Drama in 2005, and is currently an associate professor. Nominators noted her commitment to individual students. One of her students wrote, “She is insightful, hardworking, and takes a genuine interest in each and every student that comes through her door. She engages us as individuals and not just as a teacher/student relationship. She pushes us to be our best but not to expect a finished product right out of the gate.”

A colleague noted that Kava is “one of the reasons our students are prepared to enter the profession after four years of rigorous training. She is tough, demanding yet generous, and a nurturing mentor to our students in the classroom and as a director. She is the very personification of working artist, master teacher and mentor that exemplifies what makes the faculty at UNCSA so special.”



From top to bottom: Coelho, Gagnon, Kava, McCullough, Schiff and Thompson

Susan McCullough has contributed to UNCSA as a student, a dean, and currently as associate professor in the School of Dance. Nominators wrote of her commitment and the indelible mark she has left on students and colleagues. “She is treasured as a teacher, mentor, colleague, and supporter of the school,” a peer said. “She continues to teach in a way that is focused on students’ reaching their potential as they prepare for a professional career in the dance world. Susan’s loyalty, commitment, presence, engagement in, and love for our school are a part of who we are and how we continue to fulfill the mission of the school. Her students number hundreds and hundreds. Their successes are her successes.”

A student wrote about McCullough’s commitment to developing both the physical and mental skills of her students, saying “she notices our improvements and continues to push us to the next level. She concentrates on basic technique and breaks all of our bad habits, so that we dance simply, and correctly, and beautifully.”

 Nola Schiff  is currently an assistant professor in the School of Filmmaking, where she has been a member of the Picture Editing & Sound Design faculty since 2006. Nominators noted her dedication to teaching in a way that fosters a safe place where open exchange of ideas and constructive critique can flourish.

 “When students talk about Nola, they bubble with excitement from the quality of learning they are getting,” wrote a colleague.

A student noted Schiff’s nurturing approach, saying “I felt like she continuously challenged me the way a professor in her position should, but also approached me in ways in which fostered a relationship beyond the student/teacher realm, in that she became an actual mentor.”

Beth Thompson has been a faculty member of the High School Academic Program since 2003, teaching English at the sophomore, junior, and senior levels. Her impact extends across campus, according to a peer who wrote, “her enthusiasm for and vast knowledge of her subject, her dedication to student learning and welfare, and her love of the arts and this school are transmitted to her students, producing year after year a cadre of enlightened scholars loving literature, loving UNCSA, and loving Beth Thompson.”

Another peer noted Thompson’s ability to inspire and develop students’ communication skills. “They learn to express themselves because someone is listening and truly interested in what they are saying,” the colleague wrote. “They learn to love what they read because Beth transmits her deep knowledge and infectious excitement for the material and awakens their ability to access and appreciate the art of literature; they learn to write because Beth can skillfully verbalize what constitutes good writing and how to do it; they learn because she cares about their success.”

A student nominator said Thompson “is one of the most engaging, passionate, comical and charismatic teachers I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. “The energy and love brought to class every day is truly awe-inspiring.”

As America’s first state-supported arts school, the University of North Carolina School of the Arts is a unique stand-alone public university of arts conservatories. With a high school component, UNCSA is a degree-granting institution that trains young people of talent in music, dance, drama, filmmaking, and design and production. Established by the N.C. General Assembly in 1963, the School of the Arts opened in Winston-Salem (“The City of Arts and Innovation”) in 1965 and became part of the University of North Carolina system in 1972. For more information, visit www.uncsa.edu.