Team Academy

Teaching Academy staff photo

4/30/2014: NMSU Teaching Academy director Tara Gray. (NMSU Photo)

Tara Gray, Ph.D., became the first director of the Teaching Academy in January 2003. She is also an associate professor in the Department of Criminal Justice, where she served full time for ten years after teaching economics and writing her dissertation on the question, “Do prisons pay?” Tara studies scholarly writing, teaching for active learning, directing effective teaching centers, and collaborative faculty development programs. She teaches a half-dozen collaborative short courses: Publish & Flourish, Teaching Portfolios, Tenure Portfolios, Teaching Scholars, Peer Coaching: A Classroom Visitation Program, and Team Mentoring for Faculty New to NMSU. She also sets the direction of the Academy in terms of programming; hosts a half dozen special events per year; builds spirit among Team Academy; manages the budget; fundraises; and convenes the University Teaching Council. Tara has won eight awards for teaching and service both on campus and nationally. She has presented workshops to more than 10,000 educators in 120 venues, 35 states and in Guatemala, Mexico, Canada, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Tara’s work is her play, but she also treasures spending time with friends and family as well as teaching parenting to women at Doña Ana County Detention Center. You can reach Tara at 575.646.1013 or tgray@nmsu.edu.

Michelle Jackson, Associate Director for Teaching

Michelle Jackson, Ph.D., joined the Academy team in 2015 as associate director for teaching and learning. Each year, she assists faculty and staff in designing, developing, and delivering over 50 workshops on a variety of teaching and learning topics. She also directs the classroom observation program, which pairs faculty with a peer who visits their class, gathers student data, and recommends how to further enhance their teaching. Additionally, Michelle collects and analyzes program data and creates annual outcomes assessments and impact surveys for the Academy. In the Fall of 2015, she began coordinating the Technology Enhanced Active Learning (TEAL) Classroom schedule as well as the required technological and pedagogical training. She publishes and presents nationally and internationally on how to apply educational research to the college classroom. You can reach Michelle at 575.646.1788 or at mmj@nmsu.edu.

Shawn Werner, associate director for leadership and mentoring

Shawn Werner, M.A., joined the NMSU Teaching Academy in 2012 as associate director for leadership and mentoring. From 2008–2011, she worked as a program specialist for the NSF ADVANCE–PAID grant at NMSU. This grant disseminated the ADVANCE mentoring program, department head training program, and promotion and tenure workshops across the state. She is now responsible for continuing the work of ADVANCE at the Teaching Academy through the coordination of faculty leadership and mentoring programs: Advancing Leaders, the Department Head Academy, the one-on-one Mentoring Program, and Promotion and Tenure Training. Shawn is a certified mediator and trainer in Crucial Conversations® and facilitates meetings, workshops, book clubs, and team-building retreats for the Academy and other units. Shawn has also served as an adjunct instructor for the Department of Communication Studies at NMSU since 2006. She teaches organizational communication, small group communication, communication theory, persuasion and conflict management. When she is not spending time with her family, Shawn enjoys reading, writing, and watching live music. You can reach Shawn at 575.646.2583 or swerner@nmsu.edu.

04/30/2014: NMSU Teaching Academy staff member Sandra Lujan (NMSU Photo)

Sandra Lujan, B.B.A., is business manager for the Teaching Academy and Instructional Innovation and Quality, joining the staff in 1995. She is the main contact for special events, which include contracting guest speakers and handling their reimbursements. She keeps us all on the straight and narrow by tending accounts, making sure billing is accurate and timely, and handling paperwork and personnel processes. Sandra is a proud Aggie, earning a Bachelor of Business Administration in general business with minors in management and marketing. When she is not spending time with her family and friends, Sandra makes beaded jewelry and volunteers for cancer fundraisers. She can be reached at 575.646.1591 or by email at salujan@nmsu.edu.

Sandy Katayanagi, Administrative Assistant

Gail “Sandy” Katayanagi, B.A., started working as the administrative assistant for the Teaching Academy and Instructional Innovation and Quality in April 2015. Previously, she worked seven years for the Business and Information Systems Division at Doña Ana Community College. She earned her BA in radio and TV at San Francisco State when she was working for Levi Strauss and Company. Sandy performs the myriad unseen tasks that make events run smoothly and seem effortless. Sandy is an art aficionado and has an avid interest in music, photography and Aggie basketball. You can reach Sandy at 575.646.2204 or at teaching@nmsu.edu.

Teaching Academy Fellows

04/30/2014: NMSU Teaching Academy fellow Michele Shuster (NMSU Photo)

Michèle Shuster, Ph.D., is a Teaching Academy fellow and an associate professor of biology. Her disciplinary scholarship focuses on undergraduate biology education and K–8 STEM teacher professional development. Her teaching includes introductory biology for majors and non-majors, as well as upper division cancer and medical microbiology courses. She has won two NMSU teaching awards, and a NMSU Teaching Academy outstanding workshop award. She has facilitated professional development workshops at NMSU, Utah State University, Connecticut College, the American Society for Microbiology and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Michèle loves to cook and try new recipes—luckily she also likes to do Turbofire and T25 workouts! The best way to reach Michèle is via e-mail: mshuster@nmsu.edu.