The University of Houston-Victoria School of Education, Health Professions & Human Development recently recognized four faculty and staff members for their exemplary teaching, scholarship and service.

The awards have been presented every year since 2013 to recognize outstanding accomplishments by the school’s faculty and staff. The recipients are chosen by a committee of faculty and staff members from the education school.

“It’s hard to single out just one outstanding person in each category, but these four individuals stood out for their willingness to go the extra mile in each of these areas,” said Rachel Martinez, interim dean of the school.

The 2020-2021 honorees are:

  • Outstanding Teaching Award – Liping Wei, associate professor of curriculum and instruction
  • Outstanding Scholarship Award – Joann Olson, professor of adult and higher education, and associate provost for research and dean of graduate studies
  • Outstanding Faculty Service Award – Moira Baldwin, associate professor of education
  • Outstanding Staff Award – Keri Waligura, interim manager, certification and student services

Wei has taught at UHV for six years. This is the second time she has received the education school’s teaching award — she previously was honored in 2016-2017. Wei also was awarded the UHV Teaching Excellence Award in 2018-2019. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in English as a Second Language. In 2017, she helped launch the Master of Education in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in ESL and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She currently serves as the coordinator of the Victoria Online Initial Certification for Educators program.

“It is a great honor to be recognized for my teaching by my peers, who are all accomplished teacher educators,” Wei said. “I feel very encouraged and will continue to do my best to prepare qualified teachers who will be ready for today’s highly diverse classrooms.”

Olson serves as associate provost for research and dean of graduate studies. She had a strong year of scholarship with five journal publications and several national conference presentations. She also is the co-principal investigator on a major grant from the National Science Foundation and is an active reviewer and editorial board member on several academic journals. This is the second time she was awarded the education school’s scholarship award. She also is a past recipient of the school’s Outstanding Teaching Award and has received several other awards, including UHV’s Distinguished Faculty Service Award and its Research and Scholarly Activity Award.

“So much of scholarly work and research is solitary,” Olson said. “It’s always encouraging when peers acknowledge the value of that work.”

Baldwin joined the school’s faculty in 2014. She teaches undergraduate courses in science instruction methods and physical science, and she leads the student teaching seminar. As director of the UHV TExES Academy, she helps students prepare for their teaching certification prior to student teaching and graduation. Baldwin also spearheads the annual student teacher induction ceremony and serves as advisor of UHV’s chapter of the Kappa Delta Pi education honor society. Additionally, she serves on both the university’s Undergraduate Affairs Committee and Core Curriculum Committee.

Baldwin said she gets considerable satisfaction from serving the education school in these different ways.

“It all feeds back to making sure the students get what they need to be prepared,” she said. “The most rewarding part to me is seeing students succeed when they did not previously think they could.”

Waligura started her career at UHV in August 2012 as a senior secretary. She moved into the certification analyst position a year later and continued in that role until September 2020, when she assumed her current role as interim manager of certification and student services.

“It is such an honor to be nominated and recognized by my peers and colleagues,” Waligura said. “Our team is truly like family, and I am so grateful to be working with such hardworking, dedicated and caring people. My favorite part of the job is seeing students work hard to complete their degree and state testing requirements, graduate, and eventually be recommended for their ultimate goal of certification. It is truly a rewarding experience for us and the students as well.”

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