Every person learns differently and the way people learn is as unique as their fingerprints. This idea resonates with Lillian Nave ‘91 in her career in higher education, and its roots may lie in her Shorecrest education. We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Lillian, who currently serves as a Faculty Fellow at Appalachian State University and as the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Coordinator for their Center for Academic Excellence. UDL is a system of guidelines and design principles that accounts for learner variability. In reality, it asks instructors to teach to all students (not just the ones they wish were in their classes) and teach to the whole student-- working with the strategic, recognition, and affective networks of the brain. Lillian’s UDL work began with CollegeSTAR (collegestar.org), where she has written a few of the free resources instructors can use to reduce unseen barriers in the college classroom.
Lillian has been teaching at Appalachian State in Boone, NC, since 2007. She has a passion for teaching her First Year Students and for international travel. Her Art, Religion & Society First Year Seminar engages the students with the Boone community and the world at large through the visual arts. From gallery shows to student-made documentary films, and from Boone to New York City, and Kabul, Afghanistan, students learn what a valuable tool art can be to communicate ideas, culture and emotion.
We asked Lillian to tell us more about her higher education career and of some of her fondest memories at Shorecrest.
Can you please describe your career experience at Appalachian State University?
I teach First Year Students, and I really consider that a great honor--to teach students as they are beginning their journey at college. I want to cultivate creativity in my courses and that includes challenging my students to take risks, embrace failure and learn from their mistakes, all in an environment of growth. Each class is a new journey in which my students and I learn and create knowledge together, where I try to act more like a curator of information rather than an instructor, where the students lead, and the class itself becomes and instrument of learning, change, development and growth for the student.
As a Faculty Fellow, I help our University College faculty (that is all of the faculty that work in the general education courses) to improve their teaching and meet their goals in teaching and learning, so I implemented workshops and lunch meetings to discuss teaching practices and also to create a space for community among faculty who are coming from multiple different departments, or who may not have their own department because they are an adjunct.
Tell us about how you have integrated international travel with student learning?
International travel is a big part of what I do and I love to introduce students to this as well. I took 16 First Year Students to Belgium and the Netherlands in January of 2017 and again in 2018 to follow in the footsteps of the Monuments Men after the students had taken their First Year Seminar course with me entitled Art, Politics and Power. In that course students study the looting of art under the Nazis, how art was used as propaganda, and how personal and how powerful it was to many throughout the war. Students also research works of art, many taken from Jewish families during the Holocaust, and their repatriation and create documentary films as final projects. You can see some of these final projects and the intercultural competence exercises that we completed as part of our travel study blog
I had the students keep while we were traveling this past January.
Who was your favorite faculty member at Shorecrest?
You are NOT going to get me down to ONE Shorecrest teacher. I absolutely cannot do it. There were so many that were so important to me and helped me from my freshman year to my senior year and each one was just as important in that part of my education and life journey. While both Jeff Pratt and Kathy Sessions were instrumental in my life throughout my time at Shorecrest, the trinity of teachers that I still see whenever I can when I return to visit and I still think of often, especially as I see my own children going through high school and hoping they get at least one of the teachers I had are Señora Teresa Andrés, David Field and Richard Beaton. Four years of Spanish with Sra. Andrés not only insured that I still know every word to "La Bamba" and Gloria Estefan's "Me Enamore Otra Vez," but when I was called upon last year to be part of our university's delegation to strengthen a relationship with UDLAP (Universidad de las Americas, Puebla) in Mexico, I was one of only two Spanish speakers and helped our Provost to get around the city and conduct meetings..and I haven't taken Spanish in 20 years! So I have a lot to thank Sra. Andrés for lately!
Second, Mr. Field was just a phenomenal teacher and person. He had Quimo's magic board where all of the night's homework problems that I couldn't work out on my own were mysteriously worked out in his classroom! But more than that, he was always caring and available. I recently even asked him a math question via Facebook messenger when I couldn't figure out one child's homework. So I guess he is still always available. And I appreciate that!
And finally Mr. Beaton. I not only loved sophomore year European history with him (and now I'm taking students abroad there), but he also became the women's soccer coach my senior year. And that season, we just were not good. We did not win one single game. I played sweeper and I believe I was the high scorer with one goal for the season. (Luckily, not an own goal). It wasn't even a "rebuilding" year, it was a "survive the year" kind of season. But it was also an incredibly powerful character-building year. I loved my losing season. I loved those teammates. I remember getting my college acceptance letter on the field (that my mom brought to me because way back when those things came in the mail!!) and getting a Gatorade cooler dumped on me. But most of all, I really enjoyed Mr. Beaton's advice and company throughout a really devastating, seemingly never-ending, demoralizing, cold, drizzly, wet, winter soccer season. But what a pleasant experience it was! How can that even be? A season in which we did not win a single game was one of the most meaningful and worthwhile seasons of my life, looking back on it! I think I learned a lot about perseverance...and it turns out that as an adult, you're going to need a whole lot of that. But even more than that, I learned about friendship and its value and its necessity in my life. And I think Mr. Beaton not only taught that, he saw me through it.
And so did Sra. Andrés.
And so did Mr. Field.
These are great people. These are transformative teachers who have a heart for teaching and for their students. They not only love their subject, they love learning. And they love their students. We were very lucky to have them. I was very lucky to have them.
What advice do you have for graduating Shorecrest classes?
First, appreciate your parents and text them more often than you think you should. Like twice as often, at least. They love you and they are going to miss you. A. Lot. A little text or photo isn't going to kill you. Second, once you have appreciated them, do spread your wings and get away from them, at least for a little while, and explore another place (like a country) and put down your phone when you are there to really experience it (and then text your parents to let them know you're OK). Third, there are a lot of things that can set you apart from all of the other high powered students at all the high powered schools Shorecrest graduates go to… I'd like to suggest that the one thing that you strive to be known for is your kindness-- that you go out of your way to be kind to others. Not first or best or smartest or toughest. You've proven yourself already. Now you can just be kind. What a wonderful world we could create if that is what we all strove for each day-- to outdo each other in kindness. I'd like to be a part of that.