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Warren Wilson College professor honored for outstanding civic engagement

Dr. Annie Jonas of Warren Wilson College has received North Carolina Campus Compact’s 2018 Engaged Faculty Award.

Photo courtesy of Warren Wilson College.

The statewide award recognizes an outstanding faculty member in the NC Campus Compact network who demonstrates excellence in community-based teaching, research, and scholarship; leadership of campus-wide efforts; and development of strong partnerships with the community.

The faculty award was created in 2006 as the Robert Sigmon Service-Learning Award and was re-named this year.

Jonas has been a professor of education at Warren Wilson College since 2005 and chair of the education department since 2011. Her teaching – which integrates community-based experience and service – has influenced many future teachers and enhanced education for countless young people. Her “Educational Psychology” course, for example, has been in partnership with a local K-8 charter school for sixteen semesters.

The community-based learning in her courses makes a lasting impression. A former student who is now a teacher said she “vividly remember[s] working with a local middle school science teacher and his students to craft my first ever lesson on genetics.”

She continued: “Without Annie’s passion for community engagement, and the powerful, formative experiences she enabled me to have, I would not be the same educator that I am today.”

Dr. Annie Jonas of Warren Wilson College received the 2018 Engaged Faculty Award. Photo by Andrew Krech.

Over the years, Jonas has also become a faculty leader of community engagement. She was a participant in the college’s Service Learning Fellows program, then served as the Faculty Liaison to the Service Learning Program. She is now Director of Faculty Community Engagement. She leads faculty workshops on experiential education and service-learning, advises and consults with colleagues, and distributes her knowledge by presenting research at conferences like PACE and the Gulf South Summit. She also serves as associate editor for the Journal of Experiential Education.

In 2015, Jonas was selected as an “Engaged Faculty Scholar” by North Carolina Campus Compact, one of two faculty members chosen for the program’s inaugural term. In this role, Jonas explored developmental aspects of “civic identity” and how the school’s first year seminar might intentionally foster this growth.

Dr. Jonas and UNC Greensboro Chancellor Frank Gilliam, who presented the award on behalf of the Compact’s Executive Board. Photo by Andrew Krech.

Building on this work, Jonas and other colleagues defined civic identity as a learning outcome for the first year seminar course in the fall of 2016. The group then conceived a developmental model of civic identity, and support for the concept spread. In fall of 2017, the college Cabinet approved civic identity as the primary educational outcome for all Warren Wilson College students, which speaks to Jonas’s institutional leadership.

“Without hesitation, I attribute much of this success to Annie,” writes a colleague. “Her research and understanding of civic identity, skilled listening, consideration of various perspectives, and ability to synthesize feedback allowed for this success.”

Jonas earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Guilford College, a master of education and a secondary teaching certificate from Harvard University, and her doctorate in education from Western Carolina University. Before her career in higher education, she was the executive director of a wilderness experience program for low-income kids, director of the Project POWER AmeriCorps program in Buncombe County, and a public school teacher in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

The Compact recognized Jonas at its annual Presidents Forum, hosted by Meredith College in Raleigh on February 9. More than 30 presidents and chancellors attended the one-day event, along with other college and university administrators. She was also recognized at the network’s PACE Conference at Elon University on February 14. The conference convened 200 faculty, staff, students, and community partners from over 30 campuses across the Southeast.

Jonas is the first faculty member from Warren Wilson College to receive the network’s faculty award.

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