Faculty Mentors

Faculty Mentor Program

A key component of our QEP is the Faculty Mentoring Program. Those mentors who are chosen will be given a 3-hour (one course) reduction in both the Fall 2014 and the Spring 2015 semesters and will be released from their teaching duties in the May 2015 term. Up-to-date technology, including iPads and MacBook laptops, will be provided. Mentors will be asked to participate in workshops, and travel funds will be provided when necessary.
Fast Forward Mentors will be expected to re-develop at least one entry-level course which they usually teach in the Fall 2015 semester to use learner-centered approaches and 21st century tools in order to promote critical thinking. The chosen course will be assessed in several ways, and the mentor will be asked to complete some of these assessments (such as surveys and rubrics) for the course he/she is teaching.
The Fast Forward Mentor Program will provide professional development opportunities, such as workshops, travel to conferences, and one-on-one instructional design assistance, to those teachers in general education whose courses are studied as part of the plan. The first group of faculty mentors will begin their training during Year 1: 2014-2015. The mentors will complete 12, 4-hour, bi-weekly sessions, 6 in the Fall 2014 semester, and 6 in the Spring 2015 semester. This training will follow the curriculum described below. The Faculty Mentors’ schedules will be adjusted so that attendance at these workshops will be convenient to all.

Faculty Mentors 2015-2016

Don Bennett
Don Bennett has been at JSU since 2002, teaching Core Curriculum courses such as Composition and Oral Communication, literary surveys, and Advanced Composition and The Theory of Composition. Before that he taught at high schools in both Alabama and Georgia after receiving his Bachelors and Masters degrees from JSU.  He is on the board of Friends of the Library, the JSU Writing Project, and was a past President of Phi Kappa Phi National Honor Society. 

Christy Burns
Christy Burns, a full-time faculty member of the English Department since 2004, teaches Oral Communication, Freshman Composition, and American Literature.  She received her BA from Shorter College in 2001 and her MA from JSU in 2003.   With the goal of incorporating 21st Century learning into her classes, she teaches hybrid and online in addition to traditional classes.  Along with her teaching load, she serves as a member of the Writers’ Bowl planning committee and volunteers to judge Imagining the Holocaust writing contest and the Southern Playwrights competition.  Also, she has served on the GO! Orientation team as an advisor.  In 2009, Mrs. Burns received the Clyde P. Cox Award.

Sarah Cusimano Miles
Sarah Cusimano Miles is an exhibiting artist and an Assistant Professor at Jacksonville State University where she teaches introductory to advanced courses in digital imaging, traditional darkroom, and alternative processes in photography. Her work has been published and exhibited in venues both national and international, among which are the Alabama Museum of Natural History, the Martine Chaisson Gallery in New Orleans, the Southeast Museum of Photography in Daytona, and the Borges Cultural Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. In addition, her photographs have received awards from the National Society for Photographic Education, the Center for Fine Art Photography, the Worldwide Photography Gala, PhotoNOLA, and Photolucida, and she is a recent recipient of the Alabama State Council on the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship. Cusimano Miles is also involved in community advancement of the arts by serving on the Board of Directors of the Walnut Gallery, a non-profit gallery in Gadsden dedicated to promoting contemporary art, and is actively involved with the Society for Photographic Education’s national and regional organizations.  She received a B.F.A. in Studio Art from Jacksonville State University, and a B.S. in Psychology and an M.F.A. in Photography from the University of Alabama. 

Mark DaParma
Mark DaParma is  starting his ninth year in the Mathematical, Computing and Information Sciences department at Jacksonville State University. In addition to his advisory and committee responsibilities, he is the CS 201 coordinator, the department liaison to computer support and has participated as an advisor in the Freshman Orientation (GO) program. Before joining JSU,he was the Computer Information Systems Department Chair at Northland Community College in northwest Minnesota. He has taught both online and face-to-face classes. Some of the classes he has taught include Introduction to Information Technology, Fundamentals of Computing (Python), Web Development and Visual Basic.NET. He has also presented several topics at national conferences hosted by Cengage Learning Inc. His corporate background includes owning two businesses and working for IBM Corp. This combination of academics and corporate experience helps him to identify patterns and relationships students bring to the classroom which enables him to cultivate skills employers are looking for. The philosophy of his teaching has always been to not only promote intellectual engagement with the texts at hand but also to guide his students in becoming more discerning about the world around them. He received his B.S., Management Information Systems from National American University in 2000. He received his M.S., Information Systems from University of Maryland Baltimore County – An Honors University – in 2005. In addition, he has associate degrees in Computer Engineering Technology and Electrical Design. 

Larry Gray
Dr. Larry Gray has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in film, literature, and composition in the English Department at JSU since 2004.  He earned his PhD and MA at the University of Virginia and his BA at Rhodes College.  His scholarly interests include Henry James; 20th Century literature and culture between the World Wars; and adaptation studies (primarily film).  He has delivered papers on these subjects in the United States and in several international venues, including France, Germany, Sweden, England, Scotland, Canada, and China.  Dr. Gray has also been awarded several grants in the past five years that have allowed him to broaden both his scholarly interests and his teaching strategies for them: four from the National Humanities Center, and one from AASCU most recently to attend the Japan Studies Institute at San Diego State University. 

Lori J. Hill
Dr. Lori Hill is an assistant professor in the School of Health Professions & Wellness. She is the coordinator of the Center for Best Practices in Teaching and Learning in the School of Health Professions & Wellness. She teaches in the undergraduate, graduate, and STEP program within the School of Health Professions & Wellness. She earned an EdD in Instructional Leadership with Nurse Educator Specialization from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. She completed her BSN, RN and MSN at Jacksonville State University. She has presented "Flipping Fluid and Electrolytes", flipped classroom strategies for the nursing classroom, at the American Association of School of Health Professions & Wellness. She has recently presented original research, "Lateral Violence and Men in Nursing", at the Elizabeth A. Morris Clinical Session for the Alabama State Nurses Association and "Developing Diverse Nursing Students" for the Alabama League of Nursing.

Leigh Ann Keith
Dr. Leigh Ann Keith is an assistant professor in the School of Health Professions & Wellness.  She received her BSN from Jacksonville State University and her MSN and DNP from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.  Dr. Keith came to JSU in 2011 and was previously on the faculty at the University of Alabama Capstone College of Nursing in the DNP peer mentoring program.  Her teaching experience at JSU includes the undergraduate, STEP, and MSN programs within the School of Health Professions & Wellness.  Her presentations include “Improving Influenza Immunization Rates through a Specialized Clinic Review” at the University of Alabama DNP Intensive and “Mentoring the Diverse DNP Student” at the UAB DNP Intensive. She has published in the Journal of Community Health Nursing and her next article “The Efficacy of a Doctor of Nursing Practice Mentoring Program” will appear in the November 2015 issue of Clinical Scholars Review.  Her current research includes "Evaluating Student Learning through Collaborative Testing in a Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing Course."

Kihyun Kim
Dr. Kihyun Kim, Assistant Professor of Computer Information Systems, received his Ph.D. degree in Business from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. He has a M.A. in Business (1999, University of Nebraska at Lincoln) and a M.B.A. and a B.B.A. in Business Administration (1987 and 1992, Korea University). He has been on the faculty of JSU since 2011 and was previously a member of the faculty at the Winona State University. His teaching areas have included management of information systems, business intelligence, business analytics, information technology, and computer programming. His research interests include business-IT alignment, IT education, technology adoption, socio-technical systems, and cyber security. His degrees include Ph.D., University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Business, Specialization in MIS (2004); M.A., University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Business, Specialization in MIS (1999);  M.B.A., Korea University, Marketing/Business Administration (1992), and B.B.A., Korea University, Business Administration (1987).

Raina Kostova
Dr. Raina Kostova is an Associate Professor of English who started teaching at JSU in 2006 after receiving her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Emory University, where she wrote her dissertation on a comparative analysis of the modernist poetics of the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam and his American near-contemporary Wallace Stevens. Born and raised in Bulgaria, Dr. Kostova received her B.A. in English from the American University in Bulgaria before she moved to the United States to work on her M.A. degree in English at the University of Maine in Orono. Driven by her interest in the history of ideas and the literatures of different cultures,in her scholarly work she explores topics on modernism and postmodernism, literary theory, and cultural studies. She teaches a variety of courses in the English Department, ranging from first-year composition, American Literature, Western and Non-Western Literature.

Bryce Lafferty
Bryce Lafferty is an Assistant Professor of Painting and Drawing. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree at Central Connecticut State University and his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of North Texas. He teaches painting, watercolor, and creative drawing within the Department of Art at JSU. Bryce helps coordinate the Art Department’s Foundations Program and Gallery events. He is a watercolorist and his paintings have been included in art exhibitions in Alabama, Tennessee, Texas, Connecticut, Ohio, North Carolina, and Niigata, Japan.

He is currently working on a series of drawings in the style of architectural illustrations that imagine an integration of natural and human-made systems. He is interested in the way water, sunlight, plant-life, soil, land use, architecture, concepts of time, and philosophy shape what a landscape looks like and how we understand it. 

James Rayburn
Dr. James Rayburn is a Professor of Biology at Jacksonville State University who started teaching here in 1998.  Dr. Rayburn holds a Master’s and Ph.D. in Zoology from Oklahoma State University in Zoology.  He works with students from the high school 11-12 grade level through Masters Students.  His research at JSU includes environmental toxicology investigating how chemicals and mixtures cause birth defects.  He has work with outreach to high schools to promote science education by bring high school students to the university to experience biology research fist hand.  He teaches regularly both a 2 semester sequence course in biology and a 2 semester course in human anatomy and physiology.  As part of assessment of course in biology Dr. Rayburn became interested in using student response systems (SRS) as an integrated part of assessment in the class room.  This started as a way to track attendance in large class rooms (40-100 students) and continued as ability to continually assessing students during classes.  He has been assessing the student response system in the classes since 2011. 

Julie Staples
Julie Staples is a graduate of the University of Alabama where she received her B.S. in Accounting in 1986 and her M.A. in Accounting in 1987.  Mrs. Staples joined the Jacksonville State University Department of Finance, Economics, and Accounting as an adjunct instructor in 2008 and as a full-time instructor in 2014.  She currently teaches Principles of Accounting and Accounting Information Systems.  In addition to teaching college students, Mrs. Staples also works as a Certified Public Accountant at a local accounting firm.

Faculty Mentors 2014-2015

Rodney Bailey
Mr. Bailey teaches Oral Communication, Freshman Composition, and American Literature. In addition to his instructional duties, Mr. Bailey is also the Technology Liaison for the Jacksonville State University Writing Project, a member of the National Writing Project technology team, and a member of the National Conference for Teachers of English. Mr. Bailey serves as the technology assistant for the JSU English Department Writing Clinic and as webmaster for the English Department and QEP websites. He is the director of the JSU Center Stage Performance Ensemble and the JSU Marching Southerners Color Guard, and he directs color guard camps for high school and college groups across the United States.

Randal Blades
Randy Blades, Associate Professor, has been on the faculty of JSU since 2006 and is the Head of the Drama Department. Prior to joining JSU, he was on the faculty of the University of Central Florida. . He currently teaches costume technology courses and puppetry. Randy has worked professionally as a costume shop manager, cutter, draper, wardrobe and stitcher. His experience includes work at the Atlanta Opera, the Alliance Theatre, the Utah Shakespeare Festival, the Illinois Shakespeare Festival, Orlando Shakespeare Theater, Georgia Shakespeare Festival and the movies "Drumline" and "Dumb and Dumberer." Randy has also designed costumes for Kennesaw State University, Stage Door Players (Atlanta), Theatre UCF , Auburn University-Montgomery, Stage Door Players in Dunwoody, GA and the Maples Repertory theatre in Macon, MO.

Jan Case
Dr. Jan Case, Professor of Mathematics, teaches undergraduate and graduate statistics for the Department of Mathematical, Computing, and Information Sciences and is presently involved with redesigning JSU’s developmental mathematics courses. Dr. Case has experience with projects designed to broaden the research participation of those who are underrepresented in STEM areas. She has mentored many students over the years and also directs the annual JSU’s College of Arts and Sciences Student Research Symposium. She has been involved with developing the technology skills of secondary mathematics teachers for over 20 years.
Ed.D., Mississippi State University, Curriculum and Instruction, Specialization in Research Design and Statistics (1987)
M.S., Louisiana Tech University, Applied Mathematics (1983)
B.S., University of Alabama Birmingham, Secondary Education, Teaching certificates in Mathematics and English (1981)

Samuel Chuwuemeka
Samuel Chukwuemeka is a talented educator, mathematician, scientist and technologist. He naturally hails from Nigeria, where he was born and bred. He immigrated to the United States in 2007 to live, work and study. In Nigeria, he acquired a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Civil Engineering from the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State. In the United States, he has an Associate in Applied Technology degree in Computer Information Systems from Trenholm State Technical College; a Master of Education degree in Mathematics Education from Alabama State University; and another Master of Science degree in Computer Science from Troy University. His work experience includes seven years of teaching and tutoring math, physics and chemistry in Nigeria; a year of teaching chemistry at Selma High School in Selma; three years of teaching mathematics at Southlawn Middle School in Montgomery; and two years of working as the Student Support Services Mathematics Specialist and Adjunct Math Faculty at Troy University Montgomery in Montgomery. Presently, he is a Mathematics Instructor at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville. His hobbies include writing poems, web design, table tennis, lawn tennis, and soccer.

Llewellyn Cook
Dr. Cook attended Texas A&M University (B.S., 1988). He completed his graduate education at Florida State University (M.A., 1993; Ph.D., 1999) where he was a Teaching Associate and a member of the Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution.

Dr. Cook's dissertation, "Prince Karl Philipp zu Schwarzenberg and Napoleon: Franco-Austrian Relations, 1800-1815," was completed after extensive archival research in France, Austria, and the Czech Republic. He has published articles on European diplomacy in 1809, Napoleon's marriage to Marie Louise in 1810, and the campaigns of 1812 and 1813. In addition, Dr. Cook has presented at the Society for Military History. Dr. Cook is an Academic Fellow of the Société Napoleonienne Internationale, and a member of Le Souvenir Napoleonien. He is a faculty advisor for the History Club at Jacksonville State University.

Gordon Harvey
Gordon Harvey is a graduate of Auburn University (B.S. 1989, Ph.D. 1998) and the University of Alabama at Birmingham (B.S. 1992, M.A. 1994). Dr. Harvey returned to his native Alabama in 2008, after teaching at the University of Louisiana at Monroe (ULM) for nine years, and serving as Head of the ULM History Department for one year. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Louisiana Historical Association, the Editorial Board of the Alabama Review, and serves as a Consulting Editor for the Encyclopedia of Alabama project. The recipient of two endowed professorships, Dr. Harvey received several teaching awards in Louisiana, including the ULM Student Government Association Outstanding Faculty Award (2001 and 2005), Outstanding Professor in the ULM College of Arts & Sciences (2005), and various awards from student groups at Auburn University and ULM. A specialist in the recent U.S. South and its politics, Dr. Harvey has published several articles, historical journals, and essays in edited works, including an essay on the politics of environmental protection in modern Florida in Paradise Lost? The Environmental History of Florida , edited by Ray Arsenault and Jack Davis (University Press of Florida, 2005).

He has written or edited four books, including A Question of Justice: New South Governors and Education Reform, 1968-1976 (University of Alabama Press, 2002; History and Hope in the Heart of Dixie: Scholarship, Activism and Wayne Flynt in the Modern South (co-editor with Richard Starnes and Glenn Feldman--University of Alabama Press, 2006), Historic Ouachita Parish (Historical Publishing Network, 2007), and Reubin Askew and the Rise of Sunbelt Florida (University of Georgia Press).

Dr. Harvey is beginning a synthetic study of the 1970s South, tentatively entitled Dixie in the Age of Disco: The 1970s and the Rise of the Acceptable South.

Carrie Kirk
Carrie Kirk is the Coordinator for Academic Readiness and Behavioral Services. She is a 2005 graduate of Jacksonville State University with a Master of Science in Psychology. She obtained her certification in Applied Behavior Analysis and has served within her field at The Learning Tree, Family Values, and Milestones Behavior Consulting. At The Learning Tree, she served as a Residential Support Supervisor developing, writing, and monitoring (training and grading) implementations of student programs (education, service, and behavioral). At Family Values, she served as the Coordinator, marketing services, writing programs, providing counseling, supervising staff, and working in partnership with families, foster children, and individuals in contact with the Department of Human Resources. At Milestones Behavior Consulting, she served as a Behavior Analyst, conducting functional assessments, writing behavioral programs, grading skills, and training staff, teachers, and aids in the implementations of behavioral programs.
Ms. Kirk has presented research and instruction in applied behavior analysis at various professional conferences. Ms. Kirk has been teaching at JSU since 2005. Currently, Ms. Kirk teaches courses in Psychology and Learning Services promoting evidence-based teaching practices through the application of direct instruction and precision teaching. Ms. Kirk is passionate about helping students of all ages achieve fluency (fast and accurate performance across skill sets). In addition to teaching college students, Ms. Kirk also teaches preschool and elementary aged students at a local preschool and JSU’s after-school reading and math program (Learning 2 Mastery). Student performance results from the after-school program have consistently obtained a minimum of one year gain within 10 weeks of instruction.

Tamara Levi
Dr. Tamara Levi received her B.A. in History from Lees-McRae College (1997), her M.A. from Appalachian State University (1999), and her Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2006).
Her major fields of study are American Indian History, the American West, and Comparative Indigenous History. She is a member of the American Historical Association and the Western Historical Association. She has presented at several national conferences and is currently working with Texas Tech University Press on the publication of her dissertation, Food, Control, and Resistance: Rations and Indigenous Peoples in the American Great Plains and South Australia. She currently teaches courses in Colonial America, Jefferson and Jackson, and American Indian History, as well as general American History.

Mica Mecham
Mica Mecham is a graduate of Jacksonville State University where she earned her B.A. in English in 2004 and her M.A. in English in 2005. Mrs. Mecham has served as a full-time faculty member of the English Department, teaching freshman composition, oral communication, and American literature courses since spring of 2009. She teaches traditional classes, and beginning in 2011, she began teaching multiple hybrid courses for the department with the goal of successfully incorporating 21st century technology into her classrooms. In addition to her teaching load, she has served JSU in numerous ways over the years, including past participation in JSU's GO! Gamecock Orientation, participation and successful completion of JSU's National Writing Project Summer Institute (2007), as well as also presenting multiple presentations for the National Writing Project’s summer teaching seminar. Other services have included serving as a judge of JSU's Writer's Bowl and as a volunteer to serve as Author Administrator for the English Department's E-thology project. She continues to serve JSU by volunteering to judge and/or participate in department-sponsored and campus-wide-sponsored writing competitions, including Imagining the Holocaust writing contest, the JSU Southern Playwrights writing competition, and she also serves as the Scholastic Advisor to a successful Greek group on campus, a position she has held for over five years and one that has even earned Mrs. Mecham the title of “Alumni Advisor of The Year” from the JSU Greek community. As to her newest endeavor, Mrs. Mecham is looking forward to and highly anticipating her participation in JSU's Fast Forward Mentor Training program.

Joe Morgan
Dr. Morgan is an Associate Professor serving in the Department of Physical and Earth Sciences since December 2010. His specialty is Geographic Information Science and is currently teaching GIS, Remote Sensing and Human Geography Courses at JSU. He is involved with a variety of student and interdepartmental research projects using GIS technology and spatial analysis in various social and physical applications. Dr. Morgan is a 2011 Fulbright Scholar to South Asia, spending six months as a lecturer and researcher in Nanded, India at Swami Ramanand Teerth Marathwada University. While completing his Dissertation he made two trips to Bhutan to work with the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement and the Royal University of Bhutan. He completed his Ph.D. at The University at Buffalo in 2007 and severed as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro from 2001 until 2009, and as an adjunct at Elon University from 2003 until 2009. Prior to coming to JSU Dr. Morgan was at Texas A&M University, College Station Texas as an Instructional Assistant Professor teaching Globalization and Diversity and Principles of Cartography.
Ph.D. Geography/GIScience (2007) University at Buffalo, State University of New York
M.A. Masters in Applied Geography (1999) University of North Carolina at Greensboro
B.A. Geography and Political Science (1991) University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Teresa Reed
Teresa is a native of Alabama whose scholarly interests focus on the literature of the Middle Ages but have lately also expanded to an interest in zombies. Both topics are really just about her continued inquiry into how we imagine the past and try to understand it and its impact on us. Reed received her B.A. in English from Birmingham-Southern College (1989), her M.A. in English from the University of Virginia (1991) and her PhD in English with a focus on Middle English and literary theory from the University of Florida (1996). Her dissertation was published by the University of Wales Press under the title Shadows of Mary: Reading the Virgin Mary in Medieval Texts (2003). Reed enjoys teaching all kinds of classes, from freshman composition to literary theory and Middle English literature and looks forward to learning more from her colleagues about critical thinking skills and effective ways of helping our students acquire them.

Erin Rider
Erin Rider is an Assistant Professor in Sociology at JSU. She received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Texas Woman’s University (2010). She has a M.A. in Women’s Studies (2006, Texas Woman’s University), and a B.A. in English (2004, Eastern Oregon University). Erin Rider offers courses on topics such as, race/ethnicity, deviant behavior, disasters, and immigration. Her research interests are: immigration of political refugees, armed conflict, and disaster recovery processes. She strives to connect theory and practice in the classroom settings by encouraging students to critically reflect on social issues, understand the influence of social structure and cultural ideology, and become involved in civic engagement.

Tanya Sasser
Tanya T. Sasser is an English Instructor at Jacksonville State University. She taught 8th and 12th grade English before joining the JSU English dept. as an adjunct instructor in Aug. 2009 and as a full-time instructor in Aug. 2010. She teaches introductory composition, speech, argumentation and debate, and a survey of the graphic novel. She has presented papers at the Alabama Regional Graduate Conference and ACETA and has led workshops for CoRE (Collaborative Regional Education) and the Jacksonville State University Writing Project’s Annual 21st Century Conference. Her publications include articles for Hybrid Pedagogy, Digital Writing Month, Gamifeye, and Virtual Education Journal. She is the recipient of the 2009 William J. Calvert Award. She blogs at remixingcollegeenglish.wordpress.com.

Stephen Tsikalas
Dr. Tsikalas is an Assistant Professor of Physical Geography serving in the Department of Physical and Earth Sciences since January 2013. He teaches Physical Geography: Atmospheric Patterns and Processes, Meteorology, Climatology, and Natural Hazards. His research interests are in climatology, biogeography, and geomorphology. His most recent research addresses the geomorphic agency of mud-nesting swallows and the post Pleistocene distribution of Arundinaria gigantean in Northeastern Alabama. In addition to teaching, he serves as faculty adviser to the Zeta Gamma Chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon, the International Geographic Honor Society, the Geography Club, and the Outdoor Adventure Club. Dr. Tsikalas is also a member of Jacksonville State University’s Safe Zone Plus program.