Valerie J. McMillan, Ph.D., an associate professor of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, received the University of North Carolina System’s 2019 Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching at commencement on May 11.
McMillan, expert on child and family nutrition and early childhood education, was chosen for the honor along with leading faculty from the other 16 constituent campuses of the UNC System.
“Dr. McMillian’s commitment to excellence in the classroom is a great benefit to our students and prepares them for the demand and rigor of careers in early childhood education,” said N.C. A&T Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Beryl McEwen. “She remains an outstanding representative of N.C. A&T faculty.”
In her teaching strategies, McMillan emphasizes the process rather than the product of teaching and learning. She engages her students in a discourse of learning through self-discovery, cooperative activities, experiential engagement and reflection.
“I view my role as a teacher as being similar to a gardener,” McMillan said. “A teacher, as a gardener, uses her knowledge, skills and actions to cultivate the minds of students to explore, grow and learn while equipping those in her care with the necessary competencies to construct their own destiny.”
She has facilitated and fostered numerous undergraduate and graduate students’ successful entry into the early childhood workforce in careers such as teachers, center directors, child development specialists, and extension agents. She develops and teaches courses designed to prepare students to meet the unique needs of young children and families, regardless of ethnicity, culture, language, ability, disability and family structure.
“Countless children have benefited from teachers who in turn learned from Dr. McMillan,” said Mohamed Ahmedna, dean of the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. “Her dedication to teaching and devotion to her students set a standard of excellence for all of us.”
In 2007, McMillan was recognized as the Academic Advisor of the Year by the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences. In 2011, she received the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award from the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences and the Award for Excellence in Teaching from the N.C. A&T Chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta. She received the Early Childhood Champion Award from Guilford Child Development in 2017.
She is an inspiration to her colleagues as well as her students.
“Dr. Valerie Jarvis McMillan has served as a wonderful mentor and colleague since my arriving in 2004,” said Meeshay Williams-Wheeler, Ph.D., an associate professor of child development and family studies. “She holds high expectations of her college students – with accountability and respect for the profession. Her passion and commitment to teaching and educating young children is exceptional.”
A faculty member at N.C. A&T since 2000, McMillan earned both her B.S. in Child Development (Early Childhood Education) and M.Ed. in Elementary Counseling at South Carolina State University, and a Ph.D. degree in Human Development and Family Studies (Early Childhood Education) at Iowa State University.
Each Excellence in Teaching awardee receives a commemorative bronze medallion and a $12,500 cash prize.