Christine Duffy-Webb, Karyn Lyn Moyer Zapach, and Timothy Skinner are SUNY Broome Community College’s first recipients of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Adjunct Teaching. The annual award is being inaugurated in 2014 to recognize the demonstrated expertise, dedication, and commitment of adjunct faculty members teaching at the graduate, undergraduate, and professional levels in the SUNY system.
“SUNY Broome is fortunate to have so many faculty and staff who go the extra mile to serve our students and our entire academic community,” said Kevin E. Drumm, president of SUNY Broome. “It is an honor for these faculty members to be recognized among the dozens and dozens of exceptional adjunct faculty who grace our classrooms and online networks every semester.”
After failing out twice at SUNY Broome, Duffy-Webb graduated in 1995 with an associate’s degree concentrating in art and went on to earn a bachelor’s in science and a master’s in curriculum development at SUNY Cortland. Currently an instructor in SUNY Broome’s Department of Teacher Education/Early Childhood Education, Duffy-Webb has taught in elementary schools, provided instruction in ESL, and led adult education courses at Broome-Tioga BOCES. A co-advisor to the Broome Educators of Children Association and a programs co-chairwoman for the Binghamton Association for the Education of Young Children, Duffy-Webb is also a member of the Early Childhood Coalition, where she plays an active role supporting that organization’s Early Childhood Community program.
Her early difficulties as a student, said Duffy-Webb, have strengthened her as a teacher.
“My GPA was .6 before I got my act together,” she said. “Maybe that’s why I invest so much now: I had a teacher who really invested in me. The last time she failed me—or rather, the last time I failed myself—she wrote me a letter telling me that when I was ready, I would be amazing. I have that letter to this day.”
Teacher and early childhood education programs are her passion, Duffy-Webb said. Having discovered that in herself, she wants to nurture that same process of self-discovery in her classrooms.
“My SUNY Broome department leaders and colleagues have given me the professional autonomy to customize my learning environment to meet the needs of the students through the course standards and outcomes,” she said. “My hope is that through field work experiences and honest discussions on engaging topics, I’m exposing my students to diverse classroom and educational settings. No two semesters are alike, and I love that, because my teaching philosophy is student centered.”
Karyn Lyn Moyer Zapach
An instructor in the Department of English, Zapach holds bachelor’s degrees in English and economics from Hartwick College and a master’s in English from Binghamton University. She began teaching at SUNY Broome in 2003. Her motivation to be an excellent teacher, she said, comes from her students.
“I’ve always loved asking ‘What if?’ so I challenge my students to not only push for the answer to ‘Why?’ but also to find the more interesting ‘what-if’ connections among multiple topics,” Zapach said.
One of her classroom projects is based on the Game of Life board game.
“I have the students examine and play five different versions: the original one from 1960, a 1982 version, a 2002 version, a partially-computerized 2007 version, and one from 2010. After a week of working with the games themselves, we have numerous discussions about how the different versions reflect the culture of the time period they came from.”
Students are able to make connections between game playing, advertisements, society’s expectations for individuals, and their own observations of life.
“Their work reveals amazing insights into our culture, including the role that game-playing has in learning and how marketing strategies have changed over time. Most importantly, though, they are given the opportunity to examine and express their own life through a creative and unique perspective. The personal awareness that students gain from this experience proves valuable no matter what path their lives take.”
Maintaining a strong interest in interdisciplinary studies, Zapach looks for ways to connect her studies in Incan culture, Buddhism, science, music, wilderness survival skills, and pop culture into her English courses.
“I’m grateful to my students for their insights. They help me grow as a teacher. I’m also grateful to this institution for supporting the academic freedom of its professors.”
A SUNY Broome alumnus with an associate’s degree in communications and media arts, Timothy Skinner is now an instructor in that same department. His credentials also include a bachelor’s in communications from SUNY Cortland and a master’s in education from the University of Phoenix.
“Having the freedom to use my creativity in the classroom helps me to be a better teacher,” Skinner said. “So does the way SUNY Broome challenges its faculty to find new ways to reach and inspire our students.”
One way to challenge his students, Skinner said, is to present them with real-life scenarios.
“In our Public Relations Practicum, for example, students are faced with planning and implementing an entire PR campaign and event for a local not-for-profit. The students write press releases, create videos and public service announcements for radio, and design a website.”
The payoff is not only valuable experience. All proceeds from the event benefit the local non-profit.
“The class helps students to go beyond the textbooks and theories presented in the introductory levels and pushes our students to think creatively and critically,” Skinner said. “The class also provides a way for the students to give back to the local community. My department chairman consistently challenges our team to go the extra mile, and making better teachers and better students is one of the rewards.”