Alpha Sigma Nu Names Teachers of the Year
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Alpha Sigma Nu Names Teachers of the Year

Dr. Paula Gill Lopez, associate professor of Psychology and Special Education at the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions (GSEAP) and Dr. Michelle Leigh Farrell, assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese, have been recognized as the 2017 Alpha Sigma Nu Teachers of the Year. 

Dr. Paula Gill Lopez, associate professor of Psychology and Special Education at the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions (GSEAP) has been recognized as the 2017 Alpha Sigma Nu Graduate Teacher of the Year. Alpha Sigma Nu, the National Jesuit Honor Society, encourages scholarship, loyalty and service to the ideals of Jesuit higher education. The award is given annually to one undergraduate and one graduate faculty member and is determined based on input from Fairfield University students.

Chair of the department of Psychological and Educational Consultation and program director of School Psychology, Dr. Gill Lopez joined Fairfield University in 1994. She received her PhD from the University of California at Berkeley in Educational Psychology with a specialization in School Psychology. While working as a School Psychologist in Richmond, CA, Dr. Gill Lopez co-wrote curriculum and conducted workshops in cultural awareness, anger management, conflict mediation and gang violence prevention for the West Contra Costa Human Relations Department.

In 2008, she attended her first mindfulness conference at Georgetown University and found her personal and professional passion. Since then Gill Lopez has attended numerous mindfulness conferences and retreats and has trained in several major programs, including Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mindfulness in Education (MiEN) and Mindful Schools and Inner Resilience. She has presented self-care and mindfulness workshops throughout the state of Connecticut and nationally.

“I am so humbled to be recognized by my students” said Dr. Gill Lopez. “I am constantly thinking of ways they can distinguish themselves for employment. I’ve learned over the years how important extracurricular activities are. I work with students through a series of committees under the asupices of the School Psychology Student Association, including the annual Conversations in School Psychology Committee and the Mentoring Committee, to provide them with leadership opportunities. I also focus on job preparation by hosting career nights where I invite a panel of experts from our districts to critique resumes and help students prepare for job interviews. Being named Graduate Teacher of the Year feels like an affirmation of how I’ve put students first and I am thrilled that they feel they are benefiting from my leadership and tutelage.”

Most recently Dr. Gill Lopez authored a two-part article on self-care published in the National Association of School Psychologists Communique’. She and her student research team are currently investigating the benefits of practicing self-care and mindfulness for school practitioners.

Michelle FarrellAlso receiving recognition from Alpha Sigma Nu is this year's Undergraduate Teacher of the Year, Michelle Leigh Farrell, PhD, assistant professor of Spanish and Portuguese. In addition to being a professor in the Spanish program, and directing the Portuguese language program, she is also the co-director of the Latin American and Caribbean Studies program. She teaches classes on Spanish and Portuguese languages, the Cuban Revolution, Cuban Cinema, Medical Spanish and Representations of Dictators and Revolutions in Latin America. 

Originally from Massachusetts, Dr. Farrell completed her undergraduate degree at Colby College in Waterville, Maine and earned her Masters and PhD in 2011 in Spanish: Literature and Cultural Studies from the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Georgetown University. Shortly thereafter, she began her extensive research on Cuban, Brazilian and Venezuelan national film initiatives. Currently she focuses her research on the role of digital technologies in changing the control of the Cuban state in the film industry. Most recently, Dr. Farrell published on the digital literacy campaign in contemporary Cuba in her article "Slightly Independent and Illegal: Yaima Pardo’s films OFF_LINE and SWITCH ON at the Crossroads of Literacy, Inclusion and Digital Filmmaking in Contemporary Cuban Cinema” in the journal Transmodernity

“This is such an honor for me, particularly since students chose me for this award," said Dr. Farrell. "Students are my colleagues throughout the year and we work together to create a brave community of scholars, sharing research, opinions and what it is to develop our voices in any language. To receive this award from students is to receive an honor from my colleagues who matter most." 

In addition to her prestigious Alpha Sigma Nu award, Dr. Farrell has received several honors including the Values and Recipient Award from St. Vincent's Medical Center, the Teaching Excellence Department Award Nominated by students at the University of Pennsylvania and the Teaching Excellence Award from Georgetown University Academic Council. She has also received several grants, including the American Philosophical Society’s Franklin Research Grant for her research in Cuba and the American Association of University Women publication grant for her research on Cuba. 

Dr. Gill Lopez and Dr. Farrell will be recognized at the annual Alpha Sigma Nu induction which will take place on Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 3 p.m. in the Quick Center for the Arts.

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Last modified: Thu, 01 Jun 2017 09:45:51 EDT

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