Top Teachers Honored at 2018 Distinguished Instructor Awards

Dean Wayne Smutz, instructor Sarita Jackson, and BMLP’s Leo Costantino. Photo by Morgan Eagle/UCLA Extension.

On May 9, 2018, at Carnesale Commons, UCLA Extension honored its top teachers with Distinguished Instructor Awards. Also, Dean Wayne Smutz presented the Dean’s Award for outstanding service to Extension both inside and outside the classroom.

Congratulations to all of these exceptional educators. Read on to learn more about this year’s Distinguished Instructors.

Benjamin Goldberg, American Language Center. In his six years teaching daily in the year-round American Language Center (ALC) Academic Intensive English Program (AIEP) and Intensive English Communication Program (IECP), Ben has taught over 15 different courses to students from over 25 countries.

As these numbers attest, Ben is extremely versatile, moving from basic to advanced levels, and teaching a wide variety of distinctive language skills including academic Reading & Writing, Grammar Workshop, Listening, Speaking & Pronunciation. Notably, Ben is approved by UCLA Writing Programs to teach our core credit-bearing advanced academic English courses for ALC students who are bound for U.S. higher education at the MA and PhD levels. This requires an instructor who can bring a high level of intellectual rigor and intercultural savvy to a sophisticated international student audience. Ben also serves as an instructor in both the ALC and the UCLA Extension Writing Centers, providing support for international students enrolled in UCLA Extension Certificate Programs in a wide range of professional disciplines. In every program and each course he teaches, Ben consistently receives the highest evaluations, both for his teaching and his personal qualities. One student wrote: “He is not just a teacher for this class; he is a role model.”

Ben received his M.A. in International Relations from the University of Chicago, and his B.A. in Political Science at UC Santa Barbara. Before joining the ALC instructional team, he taught in Japan for a year, and served as director and coordinator of intensive English programs in both the public and private sectors.

Lou Mathews, the Arts. A treasured Writers’ Program instructor, Lou is a passionate mentor in his classroom, forming ongoing bonds with his students that last decades. Lou has helped many WP students publish books and take steps forward in their careers, including J. Ryan Stradal, whose debut novel, Kitchens of the Great Midwest, appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, and Dana Johnson, who went on to run the prestigious writing program at USC.

In the community, Lou is a tireless advocate for the WP and for UCLA Extension, referring writers to us and highlighting his instructor relationship with us whenever he can. Lou has singlehandedly helped usher dozens of our fiction writing students into the top MFA programs in the nation, including NYU, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Michigan, Columbia, and Johns Hopkins, among many others.

“Lou is the most committed instructor I’ve come across in the Extension program,” one student commented. “My other instructors have been great but none of them have given even 50% as much time as Lou does to giving feedback and being open for feedback on all revisions and writing throughout the course. Lou cares deeply about our success and about us getting something out of the course and that shows.”

Sarita Jackson, Business, Management & Legal Programs. An invaluable member of the International Trade and Commerce teaching team, Sarita is a passionate international business professional, and that dedication to her professional craft translates into inspired teaching in the classroom.

She brings current and relevant content to the curriculum, and has helped to bring high quality learning experiences to students. Sarita cares about her students and works hard to ensure that they are learning and growing as professionals in the international business field.

As one student states: “Dr. Jackson is a dedicated, professional, and passionate instructor. She is extremely knowledgeable in her field and her classes have taught me a great deal. It is clear that she greatly enjoys helping others.”

Shao-Ching Huang, Digital Technology. He studies and develops computational tools to solve problems in scientific computing. He received his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from UCLA. He makes an ongoing effort to develop efficient tools for computing turbulent flows in complex geometry on massively parallel computers.

He also serves as a high performance computing consultant and participates in UCLA cyberinfrastructure development projects. Shao-Ching takes his knowledge and experience, brings it in the classroom, and breaks it down using real-world scenarios so that student can easily understand. Because of this, Shao-Ching constantly receives high praises from his students.

C. Scott Hindell, Custom Programs & Corporate Education. Scott has been teaching at UCLA Extension for 15 years. Over the past few years, he has taught in Custom Programs and Corporate Education. Since teaching his first program in our department, he has established himself as a standout instructor and someone who can be relied upon to deliver an impactful session. He tailors his lessons and adapts his teaching to meet his student’s needs and he takes a keen interest in their professional goals. Scott’s clear and informative instructional delivery, along with his ability to transfer his professional consulting experience to the classroom has made him one of our top instructors.

Scott taught for several of our visiting international programs and he has consistently found ways to connect with the students regardless of their backgrounds. He excels at keeping the students engaged and he delivers relevant content easily understood by them. Scott has taught all levels of students in various custom programs, ranging from high school students to adult learners. He specializes in introducing students to entrepreneurship – teaching them how to start their own business and developing a business plan. Scott also goes beyond the content he teaches in class to help students achieve their business goals by being a mentor, and helping them connect to professionals in their respective fields.

Scott continues to be requested to teach for Custom Programs repeat clients. Our clients are always pleased with his teaching style and they continue receive glowing reviews from their students. Scott is also well-respected by his peers and as an “instructors’ instructor”, he helps lead UCLA Extension Instructor Development Workshops.

Jennifer Mandel, Education. Jennifer has quickly become a star instructor for the College Counseling Certificate Program. As a practicing independent educational consultant, Jennifer brings a wonderful combination of counseling, coaching, and business skills that the students truly appreciate. Students consistently comment that she provides assignments and feedback that are highly relevant and applicable to their work.

In addition to teaching three courses, she has taken on creation and instruction of custom programs for clients in India and China, and served on the UCLA Extension Instructor Advisory Board. When these unique opportunities come up Jennifer is always the first instructor we call. She is a tremendous asset and ambassador for UCLA Extension.

“I am impressed on how involved Jennifer Mandel was in our classroom discussion and her feedback to us,” one student commented. “She chose topics that are very relevant to our everyday counseling lives.”

Terry Schmidt, Engineering & Technical Management. Terry has been teaching at the Technical Management Program (TMP) for over 30 years. Terry is an exceptional instructor and has consistently received excellent evaluations and praises from students. Corporate customers frequently ask for Terry to present his courses to their staff at their company locations. He has taught at several organizations including Blizzard Entertainment, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Sony Electronics, Lawrence Livermore, Sandia and Los Alamos National Labs. In fact, several companies have developed their strategic plans with his help.

Terry spent several days at Blizzard Entertainment and helped them draft their mission statement that is now engraved on a plaque posted in front of the company headquarters in Irvine, CA. Terry stays current with industry trends and has a great sense of the challenges facing technical managers. He has been able to articulate and transform these challenges into useful and practical case studies. He is very energetic and engaging in his classes and students love his energy level and enthusiasm.

Additionally, Terry is very involved in the TMP program and works closely with the Program Director to recruit new instructors, develop new ideas and strategies. Besides teaching, Terry is a remarkable mentor to the junior instructors and provides constructive feedback and guidance to them.

Terry is the founder of and the Strategic Planning Academy. He is the author of 7 management books. Terry’s Strategic Project Management Made Simple was listed as one of the best 8 project management books in the market in 2016.

Cord D. Kirshner, Humanities & Sciences. Cord is what can be described as a “Renaissance Instructor.” He earned his B.A. in International Relations from U.C. Davis, a Master of Science in Nursing at UCLA, and holds two licensures as both a registered and public health nurse. It is notable that he accomplished his nursing graduate studies after a successful career in commercial real estate.

This unique combination of skills, knowledge and competencies has helped Cord achieve teaching excellence when instructing PhySci XL 3 – Introduction to Human Physiology. He has received a perfect 9.0/9.0 on his Overall Instructor Score for this highly academic science course.

He brings interesting case studies, informed by real-world experience as a nurse at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, to the classroom as concrete illustration of the physiological concepts he is teaching. Students, most of whom are applying to professional programs in health care, are appreciative of his broad experience working with the allied health care professionals they aspire to emulate such as physicians, physical therapists, pharmacists and respiratory therapists.

Cord continuously updates his course materials by meeting with students after the course ends to solicit specific feedback on assignments and exams. He writes letters of recommendation for students who are applying to professional schools and takes great pride in hearing from students who have been successful at gaining admission.

As a true scientist, Cord goes beyond the norm to compile data from the exam outcomes to inform his teaching process, providing students with information about how they have performed relative to past students who have taken the course. A recent student quote sums up why he is receiving this Distinguished Instructor Award: “The Instructor is the best I’ve ever had. His knowledge in the field is superb and passion for his chosen field is commendable. I am so fortunate to have him as an instructor.”

Dean’s Award

Janet Wilcox, the Arts. Janet is a gifted professional, a generous teacher, and tireless UCLA Extension contributor for the past 12 years. As a voice-over actor, Janet was the featured live announcer for AMC’s “Nicole Kidman, An American Cinematheque Tribute” and was the voice of Lifetime’s Billboards. She’s directed major celebrities for HBO’s promotion department and has published two books. Janet teaches Entertainment Studies’ Voice-Over class and also has mentored hundreds of students throughout the years in her capacity of instructor of the Film and Television Internship class.

She has been teaching since 2006, and she is one of our most dedicated instructors. She has taught in multiple modalities: in the classroom and online, which is not an evident choice given the subject matter, since it involves students speaking through microphones. She has a pioneering spirit and was one of the first to volunteer to teach her Voice-Over class over the Smart Network here at UCLA Extension.

A few quotes from Janet’s students attest to her impact in the classroom: “(Janet’s class) made me get out of my lazy zone and get going with SAG. Janet is really good at encouraging her students”; “I really loved the class. It was really useful, updated and specific. Janet is a very talented and experienced instructor who teaches important techniques that gives the aspiring voice over artist a strong foundation”; and “Janet is an amazing instructor. She has great knowledge and she is very supportive. I would recommend her to others.”

Janet loves to contribute to the success of UCLA Extension – both staff and students. She has been asked to teach a training session at a retreat in April for the Student and Alumni Services Department to enhance the voice presence of people while communicating in a customer service setting. Janet has also involved her students in auditioning to read children’s stories that were subsequently broadcast for Mattel and other hospitals, providing the students with a way to make both a positive social impact in the greater Los Angeles community and a meaningful step towards their careers as voice-over actors.