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Teachers and Staff Receive Awards for Excellence


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Posted: 5/21/2009

Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing faculty members, Laura Taylor and Shirley Van Zandt, and a staff member, Eugene Mobley, were recognized for professional excellence with awards given at an All-School Meeting on May 5, 2009.

Taylor and Van Zandt were named the 2009 recipients of the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Awards.  Given annually since 1992, the awards honor faculty members whoaccording to their studentsstand out in their role as both a teacher and a mentor. 

Laura Taylor, PhD, RN, Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Systems and Outcomes, received the Baccalaureate Excellence in Teaching Award.  “Dr. Taylor accomplished the amazing feat of making patho fun.  I can honestly say that I have retained more knowledge from her class than any other,” wrote one nominating student.  Others agree, calling her classes “the most fun, information-packed sessions in the School of Nursing.”  Taylor is known for her sense of humor and use of technology in the classroom, making podcasts to help students study, and even creating a video of herself dancing to illustrate the various heart rhythms.  She also has a reputation for being readily available via e-mail or phone, even the Sunday night before an exam.   “From her enthusiasm for ‘beans’ (kidneys) to the ‘coconut’ (brain), Laura Taylor has infectious energy to share during her lectures,” lauded another nominator.  “She is amazing and I want to be like her when I grow up.”

Shirley Van Zandt, MS, MPH, RN, CRNP, an Instructor in the Department of Community and Public Health, received the Graduate Excellence in Teaching Award.  “Shirley’s the best!” claim her students.  “Everyone wants to be like Shirley.”  She is described as “an inspiration” and “a patient mentor, who always encouraged me to improve my skills and think critically.”  With a reputation for challenging students, Van Zandt is known for her tough take-home exams and hands-on mentoring.  Says one graduate student:  “No advisee of Shirley’s is going to slide through the program.  And you wouldn’t want to since Shirley is so excited for your potential and helping to motivate you along!”  Despite the rigorous demands she places on her students, many claim her to be “one of my favorite professors.”  On a recent spring break trip, a group of eight students even sent her a “wish you were here” postcard.  “She is never without enthusiasm or a smile.  She brings energy and hope to students that their work will pay off.  And to her I am grateful that I am where I am today.”

Dean Martha N. Hill, PhD, RN, FAAN presented the teaching awards, noting that the winners demonstrate “extraordinary qualities excellent teaching, mentoring, respectfulness, and encouragement. The School of Nursing is proud to have them as part of our faculty.

Hill also presented the inaugural Dean’s SPOT award, given to Staff Performing Over the Top, to Officer Eugene Mobley, who is stationed at the front door of the school and is responsible for the safety and protection of the building and its occupants.  The award honors staff members who go significantly beyond their stated job responsibilities to address and help achieve the school’s strategic goals.  As the first face that visitors see at the school, Mobley is known for going out of his way to be helpful, sometimes even before people know they need help.  Upon bestowing the award, Hill related an anecdote of Mobley volunteering to help a visitor unload her car in the pouring rain.  “Officer Mobley has impeccable initiative, creativity, sensitivity, appreciation, and respect,” said Hill.  “We are delighted that he is the recipient of the first SPOT award.”