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Monica Hall-Woods honored with Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award
A great professor is someone who has a passion for both teaching and learning. They are able to articulate their passion and lead their students to become curious, knowledgeable people themselves.
It’s something Professor Monica Hall-Woods has strived for since starting her teaching career at St. Charles Community College nearly 17 years ago.
“It also helps to have a great sense of humor,” she joked. “Not taking yourself too seriously helps as well.”
When she started teaching biology, it was at the adjunct level. In 2008, she decided to wanted to pursue teaching on a full-time basis.
“Biology is everywhere and is truly fascinating! There are so many topics in biology that have implications in our day-to-day lives,” Hall-Woods explained. “I love sharing that enthusiasm for the subject with the students.”
Every semester, Hall-Woods tries to create an environment where students get the same opportunities and experiences as students at four-year colleges or universities.
“I’m very proud of the research we are working on in our biology labs,” she said. “It is important to bring as many inquiry-based projects to our labs as possible and provide students with real-world experiences as a scientist.”
Hall-Woods recently got her students involved in the Tiny Earth project (pictured above), which enlists students all over the world to take samples of soil and search for an organism or molecule with antibiotic properties which could later be developed into life-saving drugs.
Because of her dedication to the classroom, she was honored as an Emerson Excellence in Teaching Award winner in 2019. The program annually recognizes more than 100 educators in the St. Louis metropolitan area – from kindergarten teachers to college professors – who are examples of excellence in their field.
“The students are my favorite part,” she said. “I love learning about their lives and their interests and to find out what their degree and career goals are. It’s so satisfying to pique their curiosity, and when they make connections, when they have those ‘lightbulb’ moments, those are my favorite!”
Along with the other award recipients, she was honored at the Ritz-Carlton in November. “I was very humbled by the whole experience and am thankful for having been recognized,” she explained.