Melton receives 2012 Vice Chancellor’s Award for graduate student teaching

COLLEGE STATION — Karen Melton, a graduate student in the recreation, park and tourism sciences department of Texas A&M University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, has received a  2012 Vice Chancellor’s Awards in Excellence for graduate student teaching.

She was presented the award Jan. 8 at the Texas A&M AgriLife Conference held on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station.

The Vice Chancellor’s Awards in Excellence were established in 1980 to recognize the commitment and outstanding contributions of faculty and staff across Texas A&M AgriLife and to provide an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of those honored.

In his nomination, department head Dr. Gary Ellis noted that Melton, a doctoral candidate, has for the past two and a half years taught a key class in the department’s popular and expanding youth development specialization, titled “Youth Development Organizations and Services.”

“She took over teaching the class from Dr. Peter Witt, professor and Bradberry Chair of Recreation and Youth Development,” Ellis wrote, adding “…Ms. Melton has improved the content, presentation style and student interest in the course.”

He also noted Melton has earned a “stellar reputation for excellence in teaching that class, and her skills are reflected in her students’ achievement of learning outcomes, demand for her class and student evaluations.”

Melton’s class regularly draws between 40 and 70 students from a diversity of  majors, including accounting, English, political science, architecture, marketing and economics, her nomination stated.

In a letter of support for Melton’s nomination, Dr. Michael Edwards, assistant professor in the recreation, park and tourism sciences department, stated, “Mrs. Melton has not only proven herself as an outstanding graduate student teacher, but is likely one of the best teachers at Texas A&M, regardless of status.” He also cited her use of “innovative teaching methods and her mentorship approach in the classroom” and her ability to build one-on-one relationships with her students.

In his letter of support, Witt noted  Melton had made improvements to the course he originally developed and had “reorganized it to the interests of our students,” winning a major university teaching award for her efforts. He also cited her “strong record of research,” including investigation of how organizational and community capacity influence youth development outcomes and how family recreation resources can promote adolescent growth and development.

Melton’s additional awards and honors include a Peter A. Witt and Joyce I. Nies Graduate Youth Development Fellowship, Graduate Teaching Academy Fellow honors, Bradberry Youth Development Scholarship and Student Lead Award for Teaching Excellence. She has been a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Chi Alpha and Phi Etta Sigma national honor societies and is a member of several professional organizations, including the National Council of Therapeutic Recreation Society, National Parks and Recreation Association and Society of Research on Adolescence.

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