December 5, 2005

 

 

 

Dr. John Thornell, Provost

Kent Wyatt Hall

Delta State University

Cleveland, MS 38733

 

Dear Dr. Thornell:

 

I am writing in support of Dr. James Tomekís nomination for one of the Foundation teaching awards. We have been colleagues for the past twenty-five years in the Division of Languages & Literature. While Dr. Tomek is outstanding in scholarship (as his recent earning of a masterís in theology indicates) and in service (with such activities as editing Tapestry and chairing the Division curriculum committee), I will focus on his teaching here.

As a teacher, Jim is known for his enthusiasm, his eagerness to try a variety of methods to reach his students, and his willingness to share his expertise with all of us.†† The Rassias strategy that he uses with his French classes is one that particularly interests me.Several years ago Jim agreed to let a student in one of my upper division English classes videotape him using this method.The tape became an effective part of the student's oral presentation on teaching strategies.When I taught a World Literature course, Jim willingly came to guest lecture on the French symbolist poets.

 

Perhaps Jim as teacher is explained best in an essay that one of his students wrote in our Writing Proficiency Examination.This student was preparing to be a teacher after graduation.He writes of Dr. Tomek that "teaching is not what he does; it's how he lives and how he feels about living."The student goes on to say that he "began taking French because my advisor said it would 'look good' on my English/Spanish major transcript," but that Dr. Tomek "has taken my indifferent attitude toward French and transformed it into a passion for France and anything French.He has also taken my disgust for math and changed it into interest in its role in my life.He has taken time to expand my love for languages, politics, and philosophy.Without his influence I may have settled for becoming an average teacher but not now.I will be the best because I am learning from the best."

 

Jim has a deep interest in connectedness in the curriculum and enjoys teaching in areas other than French.Each semester he teaches either a sophomore Introduction to Literature genre course on the novel and the short story or one on drama and poetry.He also teaches a course in literary criticism which focuses on French film and was one of the lecturers in a special Psychology and Literature course. He is supportive of university activities of all disciplines.One sees Jim at science seminars, music concerts, literary readings, play productions, art exhibit openings, anywhere on campus where students and faculty are engaged in learning.

 

As a teacher and a scholar, Jim is a valuable part of our academic community here at Delta State and is most deserving of this award.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

 

 

Dorothy Shawhan, Chair

Division of Languages & Literature