An Influential Bronx Woman
Awarded to Cynthia Jones
Share Her Story and Her Gratitute
As Thanksgiving approaches, I am full of gratitude about the 2014 – 2015 academic year, which brought much professional joy and some personal bittersweet moments. On November 20, 2014, Mr. Udall of Colorado announced the US Professors Award winners and their names were recorded in the Congressional Record. I was selected as the 2014 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching New York Professor of the Year. I traveled to Washington, DC with my sister to receive this award at a luncheon hosted at the National Press Club; I had asked my mother to be my guest but she declined due to the toll of travel and her advanced years. I am very grateful for this prestigious award and wish to thank my college family for their contributions to my continuous quest to serve our students. I have been deeply humbled by the attention garnered by this award such as the New York Times, the Clarion, The Chronicle of Higher Education to name a few. In June 2015, I was one of the 25 Bronx Influential Women honored by the Bronx Times Reporter.
Although this past year has been a heady experience, I am mindful that, at 93 years young, my mother, until her death believed: “Two heads are better than one even if one is a billy goat’s head.” My father believed that you should always question, dig deeper and not remain in the same place. Prior to entering the academy, I was an early childhood educator and administrator, who learned that the power of story and making connections were essential to effective learning and teaching. At Hostos I have been engaged collaborative initiatives designed to address the needs of our Hostos students. Upon reflection I realize that my familial foundation and professional experiences have informed and shaped who I am as an educator and a lifelong learner.
I first entered Hostos as an adjunct assigned to teach ESL reading courses. I often was confronted with comments such as “Professor, how can you teach us and you don’t know Spanish?” I can now admit that I questioned myself, too. How could I effectively take a non-English speaker to a level that allowed her or him to progress through the ESL sequence and other college courses? I decided that it should begin at the basic level of communication – making connections with each other and the world around us.
During the spring semester 2015, as a part of the Hostos Teaching Institute I conducted a faculty development workshop on “Student Engagement.” One of the activities entailed the participants writing about a personal higher education learning experience they “had when you were thoroughly engaged.” They were then paired up and asked to list known facts about student engagement and list challenges or questions you might have “if you were enrolled in Student Engagement 101.” During the ensuing discussion, participants shared their individual experiences and the group identified certain features in the stories. The collaborative efforts produced a common understanding about student engagement and allowed us to move forward in fine-tuning strategies for effective student engagement. This three-prong approach I utilize in all of my classes in order to elicit the story of the learner, what is known and unknown about the subject and possible impediments to learning.
I was asked to share my thoughts about being named the 2014 New York Professor of the Year. The award serves as a testament of the collaboration and hard work of us all here at Hostos. I can sum it up: I am Hostos