The University of Georgia Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes exemplary instruction by teaching faculty at the University of Georgia.
These teachers show the strong commitment to UGA’s teaching mission and the award recognizes the corps of teaching faculty that dedicate their time primarily to outstanding teaching endeavors, in and out of the classroom.
Department of English
Franklin College of Arts and Sciences
Nancee Reeves wants to demystify words.
“Literature is not a code to be broken by a few select intellectuals, and good writing is not exclusive to poets. I want students to understand that the skills required to analyze and compose are accessible and of great importance to everyone, no matter what they hope to achieve,” she said.
Reeves joined the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences’ English department in 2013. In that time, she’s taught 14 different classes, including Honors and service-learning courses. To make those classes as strong as possible, she regularly creates and adapts course materials and finds inventive ways to engage with students.
Her goal is to make sure her students truly understand what they’re reading. For example, in her Shakespeare course, Reeves not only has her students read the plays, but she also has students study the cultural impact Shakespeare made. Each class starts with student examples of a book, song, commercial, movie, political debate or medical innovation influenced by Shakespeare.
Similarly, Reeves had students in her composition service-learning class visit animals at the Athens-Clarke County Animal Services, then write a profile on one of the animals, complete with pictures and video, that was posted to the shelter’s adoption website. Students learned how tone, structure and word choice, paired with complementary electronic media, can make a meaningful difference.
“She is truly a dream teacher, the kind you see in movies or read about in books, but I had the pleasure to experience it for real,” one former student said. “Her deep heart for students, for representation, for intellectual growth and for bringing the best out of each person is so evident in everything she teaches, every word she says and every action she performs.”
Reeves’ colleagues have noticed her ability to connect with students in a variety of ways.
“What sets Dr. Reeves apart from other excellent teachers is her masterful in-class use of media and technology,” said Cody Marrs, professor and interim head of the English department. “She seamlessly weaves together lessons on writing and literature with art, memes, sounds, webpages, clips, zines, quotes, pulps, comics, illustrations, social media and physical technology. To be in Dr. Reeves’ class is to be immersed in a multisensory, multimedia environment that is maximally attuned to the different ways in which different students learn.”
Reeves hopes that the education her students receive extends beyond their time at UGA.
“No matter what I am teaching, I want my students to understand the importance of critical thinking and asking questions,” she said. “In pursuing skills that will fit them for their future careers, students are also leaving my classroom equipped with skills that will be applicable to all facets of life.”