Tarshia Stanley, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of English, is experiencing a banner academic year. Earlier this fall, she was selected to the Executive Council of the Association of Departments of English, and most recently became a Governor’s Teaching Fellow. She is one of 12 faculty members from institutions of higher education across Georgia selected for the program.
A Spelman College faculty member since 1999, Dr. Stanley teaches courses in film and media studies particularly as it pertains to images of women of African descent. She has authored several articles critiquing Black women in African, African-American, and Caribbean cinema as well as Black female iconography in American popular culture. As a fellow, she will attend several symposia held over the course of the academic year at the University of Georgia’s Institute of Higher Education. While there, she will connect with faculty across the state in an environment dedicated to raising the level of expectation and expertise of professors.
In recognition of her award, Dr. Stanley recently shared with Inside Spelman some of her upcoming teaching projects, plans to integrate new teaching models into classroom learning, and vision on how Spelman students will ultimately benefit from her participation in the fellowship program.
Inside Spelman: To what do you attribute the recognition you’ve received?
Dr. Stanley: I think I’ve been the beneficiary of some excellent work that went on before me. Spelman’s reputation is stellar, so that opened doors for me. My work ethic, my commitment to my students, my research, and my department made it possible for me to walk through those doors and take a seat at the table.
Inside Spelman: How were you selected as a 2015-2016 Governor’s Teaching Fellow? What was the criteria for receiving the fellowship?
Dr. Stanley: There is an application process which includes a letter of support from your institution’s president. I actually found out about the fellows program very late and wasn’t at all sure my application would receive full consideration. When I met the director of the GTF Program, she told me that after reading my application and the letter from Spelman’s former president, Dr. Tatum, the committee wanted me to participate. They wanted to know me.
Inside Spelman: As a fellow, how do you envision the fellowship will help you develop important teaching skills and impart knowledge to your students?
Dr. Stanley: The 21st century challenge in higher education is to meet our students where they are and provide the means for them to get to where they want to be. That means we have to use every tool at our disposal. GTF allows me to access the best practices and best tools for college teaching. I’ve already introduced my students to websites which allow them to use their phones to take quizzes and surveys. Their phones work like clickers, which saves time and money, and gives them an additional way of interacting with the material. Also, I’ve been introduced to practical techniques to make classroom learning more dynamic. As a result, I am restructuring assignments, paying more attention to the way my students learn, as well as what they are learning.
Inside Spelman: How will students ultimately benefit from this fellowship? Do you hope it will help you become a better professor as you work to improve the student intellectual community?
Dr. Stanley: I will definitely be a better professor. I think I’m going to write an article about the need for dedicated space and time for professional development. As hard as it has been to get away, just having three days a month to think only about teaching has renewed my energy and my creativity. My continuing to learn, grow, and innovate as a professor directly and exponentially benefits our students.
Inside Spelman: How do you plan to incorporate what you are learning and translate it into the classroom, especially as it involves your focus on images of women as depicted in all forms of media?
Dr. Stanley: I’m really excited about creating an e-book particularly with my Images of Women in the Media students. For 13 years, our culminating event has been to share what we’ve learned about images with the community via a daylong symposium. My goal at GTF is to develop a platform for my students to create this e-book. It will have interactive digital material that allows us to interact with the community on a daily basis. We’ll make it available for download to the public at the end of our semester.