By Jordan Beach
Throughout her years in higher education, Lydia Laucella’s interest in bettering education blossomed. Her new role as Assistant Director of Reinhardt’s Center for Innovative Teaching and Engaged Learning (CITEL) allows her to explore and implement ways to improve the educational experience for all involved.
Over the last five years, Laucella taught First Year Seminar courses and Elementary Italian at Reinhardt University and several first-year courses at Kennesaw State University. She feels the experience she accumulated as a part-time faculty member provides insight into ways to serve Reinhardt’s faculty with the CITEL.
“As a former part-time faculty member, I understand the unique struggles that part-time faculty can sometimes face when working in higher education,” said Laucella. “For example, I often found myself reluctant to engage in conversations to talk about my successes and failures, for either fear of losing my job or because I just did not know who to talk to.”
Situations such as her reluctancy toward presenting challenges as a professor create inspiration for future initiatives.
“The first initiative I would like to start to support our part-time faculty is to create a series of Adjunct Voices coffee hours, which will give those part-time faculty members a safe space to vent and share.”
These outreach opportunities piqued Laucella’s interest for the position. Innovative and engaging approaches she took in the classes she taught led her to a faculty mentor role before taking on the official title.
“In my own courses, I had the opportunity to experiment with different pedagogical approaches to innovative teaching and engaged learning, which helped me to eventually find my own path in teaching. But, I also became experienced in these approaches, so I worked as a faculty mentor and found that I wanted to have more agency to facilitate faculty and students in their teaching learning journeys.”
As assistant director, Laucella supports faculty through training, one-on-one consultations, workshops and resource documents that cover course design, new and innovative pedagogies and of course, creating engaging learning experiences in the classroom.
“I am a visionary, and my biggest hope for CITEL is that we can develop wide-reaching, dynamic conversations with our faculty, students and community, and extend these conversations so that we can become a beacon of innovation and engagement in our region, and even nationally.”
Laucella believes these wide-reaching conversations open the door to a wealth of information to add to the knowledge she gained from her own experiences.
“I hope to bring my unique set of skills to Reinhardt, but I also look forward to learning from others. I believe that educators should always be evolving. I also believe that our best resources for understanding innovation and engagement in our classes come from our shared teaching experiences. In my role at CITEL, I hope to develop conversations about our teaching success and failures.”
To accurately gauge what faculty should focus on at Reinhardt, Laucella sees beneficial outcomes in including many perspectives in the conversation about how the Center can best function.
“Students and the community need to be part of this as well so we can create a dynamic conversation about what innovation in teaching and engaged learning means to us at Reinhardt and to the communities we serve.”
With Reinhardt’s knowledgeable and talented faculty and dedicated student body, Laucella feels honored to hold her position and humbled to serve the University.