Crestron Electronics has awarded Dr. Jennifer Haber, an English composition professor at St. Petersburg College, with its Summum Bonum Award for Excellence in Teaching during a special ceremony at the school’s Tarpon Springs, FL, campus. The annual award recognizes the crucial mentoring role that teachers play in the academic and personal development of students.
Jeff Singer, Crestron director of marketing communications, presented Haber with a commemorative plaque and cash prize during the blue ribbon event, recognizing her long-term commitment to her students, education, and technology. More than 100 faculty, staff, students, friends, and family attended the ceremony.
Dr. Jennifer Haber and Crestron’s Jeff Singer during Summum Bonum Award presentation in Florida
This is the fourth year that Crestron has honored a teacher with an award. According to the company, founder George Feldstein hatched the idea for celebrating passionate educators who offer innovation through education.
“[Feldstein] sees how teachers shape the lives of their students and wanted to give back and acknowledge their tireless efforts,” Crestron public relations director Joyce Essig-Bachtler explained.
Summum Bonum is an expression used in philosophy to describe the ideal of providing the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people.
Haber's journey began more than 10 years ago when, as an assistant professor in English, she was asked to participate in the Project Eagle grant program at St. Petersburg College. The program tasked participants with creating a completely online course for composition, which had never been done before at the school. Haber accepted the challenge and piloted the first Composition I online course. She went on to successfully establish several other online courses including Composition II, Technical Writing, and Creative Writing.
Haber continues to expand her range of teaching styles by incorporating some of the latest software programs and social media channels into her classroom, including Prezi, Tumblr, Facebook, and Twitter. She believes it is important for her students to embrace and utilize growing technologies to advance their technical aptitude. This will mark the first year Haber’s students will obtain writing advice from her through Twitter. Her humanities students will review and respond to posts on Facebook, as well.
“We applaud Dr. Haber for her contributions to St. Petersburg College and her students,” said Crestron executive vice president and Summum Bonum Award committee chairman, Randy Klein. “Dr. Haber continually challenges herself to incorporate new tools and resources into her curriculum, enabling her students to think differently and enhance their writing and technology skillsets. We commend Dr. Haber for her dedication to advancing education through technology.”
In addition to pioneering online education at St. Petersburg College, Haber has assisted in bringing new technology into the classroom, including software programs Smartthinking and Turnitin. She created blended classroom learning programs using online videos and conferencing tools so students could spend half their time in the classroom and the other half online.
Last year, Haber was asked to share her experiences with Smartthinking and Turnitin at the Writing Symposium at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, FL. Recently, she presented on Blended Learning at the Sloan Conference in Milwaukee, WI. There, she shared her experiences in teaching in blended environments. Dr. Haber is a strong supporter of technology and advocates for others to embrace the powerful tools around them.
“Dr. Haber has long been committed to incorporating technology into all of her courses to support learning outcomes and promote student success,” said St. Petersburg College dean of communications, Dr. Martha Campbell. “She is fully deserving of this award as she continues to seek opportunities for technological innovations to assist her and her students each semester.”