Texas Tech University

2 college faculty members join Teaching Academy

Robert Stein

September 19, 2019

Mellinee Lesley

Professors Mellinee Lesley and Walter Smith were inducted into the academy, which recognizes and promotes outstanding teaching.

In recognition of their excellence as educators, College of Education Professors Mellinee Lesley and Walter Smith were inducted into the Teaching Academy at Texas Tech University on Wednesday (Sept. 18).

Smith, the Helen DeVitt Jones Professor of Education, and Lesley, a professor in the Language, Diversity and Literacy Studies program, were among 11 inductees from across the university.

New members were honored at a ceremony on campus and asked about what motivates and inspires them to teach:

"Teaching is learning. It is shaped by that moment when you dare to ask, 'What else is there?' and are pulled deeper into the realm of possibilities," Lesley said. "Safeguarding the potential of all students to learn is equally important. Classrooms are a site for social justice where students cultivate their intellectual voice and imagine making a powerful contribution to the world. These ideals are at the core of my instruction and inspire me to teach."

Walter Smith

Lesley's background includes working as classroom teacher in Texas and serving as director for developmental reading at Eastern New Mexico University. Her professional focus includes fostering agentive literacy identities and academic literacy skills for marginalized adolescent and adult learners.

Smith specializes in science, technology, engineering and math education. He has been active in the development of science teaching materials for teachers to use with middle school children. Smith was among the first group of recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics, Science and Engineering Mentoring, which he received at the White House in 1996.

"The Enlightenment lives today and continues to make the world a better place," Smith said. "I have great faith that humans can improve their individual and collective lot. I hope my teaching can add to the knowledge, skills and dispositions of my students to strive for a better life for themselves and families but more importantly for all of humankind."

Formed in 1997, the Teaching Academy works to demonstrate, support, promote and recognize teaching excellence at Texas Tech. The academy also offers opportunities for mentorship and other means of professional development.

New members are added annually and must have three years of service to the university and be nominated by a current member. The academy consists of 212 faculty members from various colleges and departments across the university. Last year, three College of Education faculty members joined the academy's ranks.