Skyler Speakman Wins Graduate Student Teaching Award

Apr 21, 2014

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Skyler Speakman, a student teacher at Carnegie Mellon University’s H. John Heinz III College, was given the Graduate Student Teacher Award during Carnegie Mellon University’s Innovation with Impact: Celebration of Graduate Students event.

Carnegie Mellon University's Graduate Student Teaching Award is given annually to recognize a graduate student who has demonstrated teaching excellence at the undergraduate and/or graduate level at Carnegie Mellon. The award is intended to foster a culture of teaching excellence among graduate teaching assistants and instructors.

“Everyday in the hallway I would see Sky before and after class surrounded by students,” said Andrew Wasser, Associate Dean for the  School of Information Systems and Management. “I could tell how much they admired Sky and were absorbing his insights.

“While many feared statistics, they knew they could count on Sky to explain very difficult concepts in an intuitive and clear manner,” continued Wasser.

The award came after Speakman, who has been teaching at Heinz College since the Fall of 2009, served as the lead Teaching Assistant for both Dan Nagin and Daniel Neill’s statistics courses.

“Sky was teaching our largest ever class of IS students at the College at the same time his wife was expecting a baby,” said Wasser. “With Sky’s cool demeanor, he had an endless reserve of energy and patience to help every student that needed his support.”

“I have worked with some great professors over the years and they've trusted me with a lot of freedom in recitations and office hours and I think that has played a huge role in my teaching style being well-received among the students,” said Speakman.

On handling a statistics course for 183 students, Speakman said, “The size of the course came with a lot of additional challenges.  I shared a lot of these responsibilities with my head TA, Sriram Somanchi (a fellow PhD student).

“Being able to rely on Sriram was a big reason the course was so successful on my first run.”

“They all spoke glowingly of Sky’s course delivery and his ability to explain complex topics,” said Wasser.

“Many had taken statistics in their undergraduate studies but felt that this was the first time they truly understood the concepts and how they can be applied in practice.”

Andrew Wasser and Skyler Speakman

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