Starting in 2010, I have had the privilege as director of the Nakatani Teaching and Learning Center to work with instructors in creating professional development activities that support teaching excellence at UW-Stout. These activities may range from organic one-on-one consultations to more structured speaker events, workshops and classroom scholarly projects. In this role, I facilitate idea-generation and implementation of experiences that bring diverse instructors together to develop assignments and assessment practices that further the infusion of critical teaching practices and enhance student learning. As part of the directorship, I facilitate an 11-member NTLC Board and serve as a Council member for UW-System’s faculty development program known as the Office of Professional Instructional Development (OPID).
Throughout my 30-year teaching career, I have worked to cultivate a learning environment within my classroom that supported student engagement and thoughtful reflection of the topics being studied. I encouraged students to question, be introspective, and to share their knowledge and skills with others. I have been fortunate to teach challenging courses such as International Economic Trends in Textiles and Clothing and Social and Psychological Aspects in Clothing. While these and other courses have demanded a personal vigilance to stay on top of changing issues, the real challenge has been to find ways that engage students to learn material that they have rarely considered. Using active learning strategies, I have endeavored to help students become effective problem-solvers in their future apparel and retail careers. Through the years, I branched beyond the traditional classroom to include the development of internship programs, independent studies, field trips, guest speakers, community engagement, and collaborative research opportunities.