Dr. Lucy James Named 2020 Recipient of College's Dr. Aileen Creighton Award for Teaching Excellence
Professor of American Sign Language and Interpreting Recognized as a "Master Teacher"
Article by Rosa Linda Reynoso and Melinda Eddleman
The Dr. Aileen Creighton Award for Teaching Excellence is the highest honor presented to faculty by Del Mar College (DMC). During its first “virtual” fall convocation held this morning, Aug. 17, the College announced Lucy James, Ed.D., professor of American Sign Language (ASL) and Interpreting in the Human Sciences and Education Department, as the 2020 Creighton Award recipient, which also makes her the 19th faculty member to receive the award.
First established in 2002, DMC named the award in honor of Dr. Aileen Creighton, dean emeritus of Arts and Sciences. The award represents the late educator’s legacy as a “master teacher” during her 41-year career at the College and serves as the benchmark faculty must emulate to receive the honor. Known for her dedication to students and higher education, Dr. Creighton provided inspiration to other educators.
James first worked in the interpreting industry before she began teaching at Del Mar College as an adjunct faculty member. She says that working with students is definitely the highlight of her career, noting that many of her former students have continued their education to earn higher degrees in the field.“I also have one student who is teaching with me as an adjunct,” James notes, a familiar route she took 16 years ago.
James admires the dedication and teaching methods of previous Creighton Award recipients and has even interpreted during class for two of these peers in the past. “I admire their interaction with students, and I am honored to join this group of recognized educators,” she notes.As the 2020 recipient, James says that even if she had not received the Creighton Award, just reading the nomination support letters written by colleagues and former students was a reward. “I got the chance to know how people felt about my teaching,” she says.
Her supporters all agree. James lives up to the standards and tradition of the Creighton Award whether she’s teaching students in the classroom or providing training to other faculty as part of program reviews.
Kristen Wilkerson, chair of the Human Sciences and Education Department, wrote, “Dr. James took care to present materials in different ways to address multiple learning styles. One student even described her class with Dr. James as a ‘brave space’ circle where students could comfortably learn to interpret in front of others.”
Former students noted James’ use of her own experiences as a seasoned interpreter gave them valuable examples for their own professional handling of varied situations. One student wrote,
Her lectures are always interesting, engaging and relevant to the course objectives, and she includes activities and games that focus on building necessary skills for long-term success in the field.
Writing about her own teaching style, James noted, “Having the opportunity to teach students about the language, culture and skills needed to work as an interpreter has been the only task that I enjoyed more than actually providing interpreting services myself,” adding that she enjoys creating assignments and gathering materials that challenge students to stretch a little by researching new topics for class assignments and seeking out community members using ASL to learn more about how these individuals use the language.
As a peer who provides training to other faculty, James’ colleague Kinesiology professor Shawnee Bonnette, wrote, “Faculty often leave trainings feeling like the task is manageable and worthwhile. Lucy encourages other faculty and leads them as only a ‘master teacher’ can do.”
During the College’s current campus closure due to the pandemic, James has provided advising services remotely using phone and videoconferencing software. She is one of the ASL and Interpreting program’s primary academic advisors, and her devotion to guiding students during this critical time is invaluable.
Outside the classroom, James fills several other roles at the College, including serving as a member of the Guided Pathways Steering Committee, training mentor with the Faculty Coordinator Assessment, Instructional Program Review Committee and a co-chair of the Student Learning Steering Committee. She also serves on the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) Commission on Colleges Reaffirmation team and the Quality Enhancement Plan development team, which is tasked with improving comprehensive advising services at the College.
James also serves in the community and is the current chair of the Board of Directors for the Corpus Christi Deaf. For the past 11 years, she has been a rater for the Advanced and Medical Interpreting Certification Exam for the Texas Board for Evaluation Interpreters.
Joining the DMC faculty in 2004, James earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and a master’s degree in adult education from Northeastern University in Boston. In 2018, she received her doctoral degree in adult education from Capella University in Minneapolis.
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