Communication Studies alumnus Courtney Brazile (B.A. 2005; M.A. 2009), was recently honored with the College's Excellence in Teaching Award for his dedication to his students and their academic success. The Excellence in Teaching Award is presented annually to the teacher who has shown an outstanding ability to be innovative and engaging with their students, making an impact both in and outside of the classroom. From outstanding lecturing to an exceptional contribution to academics, the Excellence in Teaching Award is one of the college's most prestigious awards.
Along with a beautiful plaque he keeps in his office, Brazile was also awarded a grant that will assist in funding a trip to the League for Innovation Conference in Maryland where he will again be honored for his standout approaches to teaching and education. As the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award, Brazile will be the college's spring commencement ceremony speaker as well as head the committee who selects next years' award winner.
Brazile's career was established, as he puts it, through "humble beginnings." Shortly after graduating from UNT with his Masters in Communication Studies, he began as an adjunct at Eastfield. One year later, Brazile's supervisors encouraged him to apply for a visiting scholar position and by 2012 he was offered a full-time position teaching speech communication courses. While Brazile was not without recognition throughout the beginning of his career, having been awarded the Visions of Excellence Award in Fall of 2013 and the Jean Sharing Griffith Student Development Award in Fall of 2015, he continued working hard to make a difference in his students' academic careers, and considers the Excellence in Teaching award the "greatest honor" to be received in teaching on his campus. Grateful not only for his selection, he is humbled by the responsibility it brings and equally motivated to continue striving for excellence inside the classroom. He said, "It has made me think of areas I need to grow in. How I can do better to live up to this award.". From colleagues coming to him for advice, to students asking questions about his teaching and his award, Brazile is aware of the new role he has stepped into, "it shines a light on you, puts you on the radar to being a leader to others," he adds.
Remembering his time at UNT, Brazile recalls how one assignment in Dr. Karen Anderson Lain's pedagogy course eventually became the foundation from which his teaching philosophy was built. He said his goal is to "create a classroom where every student has a voice at the table, learn from each other and co create knowledge, to learn just as much from my students as they learn from me and provide curriculum that is applicable so that my students can become change agents."
While attending UNT for his undergraduate and graduate degrees, Brazile's studies emphasized a focus in performance. Continually striving to engage his students in innovative ways, Brazile uses what he learned in his performance focused courses as an elemental part of his teaching method to this day. Performance, according to Brazile, "teaches you about performing roles and embodying the lesson." Brazile attributes his experiences in the department's performance courses to shaping him into the teacher he is today; he encourages his students to be active participants in the process of learning as his professors encouraged him. It was "UNT's supportive program that supplied me with the skills to find my voice and paved the way towards success as a teacher," he said.
Though he is appreciative of the tangible award itself, Brazile has found that the greatest honor and reminder to continue striving for excellence is the wall of gratitude in his office. He said the wall, filled with notes from students, reminds him every day of the "impact he has made and will continue to make."