Garnet Apple winner has lifelong love of teaching

Tena B. Crews has wanted to be a teacher ever since she had a teacher.

“When I was in kindergarten, I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher. When I was in the first grade, I wanted to be a first grade teacher. When I was in the second grade … I see a pattern,” says Crews. “I eventually went to college, so I wanted to be a college teacher.”

For her dedication to students and passion for her profession, Crews has been awarded a Garnet Apple Award for Teaching Innovation.

Crews was recruited to the University of South Carolina in 2003 to develop an online master’s degree in business education. In addition to her teaching duties, which include the senior seminar course for the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management, she has served as the associate dean of diversity and operations and of academic programs, director of online learning and development and program chair for the Bachelor’s of Art in Interdisciplinary Studies degree. This fall, she was named associate provost for academic programs and director of distributed learning in the Office of the Provost.

Her new responsibilities will include developing and maintaining policies that govern academic programs across all campuses of the UofSC system, shepherding innovative new academic programs through approval processes, ensuring academic programs comply with state and federal standards and serving as a liaison with the state’s Commission on Higher Education and the Academic Common Market.

As a researcher, her focus has been on innovative techniques for teaching online, effective online course design and how to improve the learning experience for students. She is a Quality Matters peer and master reviewer and enjoys helping others become more comfortable teaching and learning in the online and face-to-face classrooms.

“Whether teaching online or face-to-face, professors can learn just as much from their students and students’ opinions and behaviors as the students can learn from the professor,” Crews says. “I continue to ask students for their feedback and opinions to improve my course design teaching even though I have been teaching since 1983.” Crews says the scholarship of teaching and learning is a key function of higher education.

“Just as students can improve how they learn and focus on what they learn, we, as faculty, can improve how we teach and what we teach,” she says.

Crews’ teaching does not stop at the classroom door; she also is a certified yoga instructor and has spent two hot South Carolina summers in Salkehatchie, assisting in roofing homes as part of her mission work and has now begun triathlon training and finished her first triathlon at Parris Island on March 19, 2016, with a 500-yard swim, 10-mile bike and a 5-kilometer run.

She and her husband, Moody — a clinical associate professor in counselor education at Carolina — never planned to stay in South Carolina this long, but now consider the state, Columbia and the university their home.

“There is nothing more rewarding than to see students learn, grow and succeed,” she says. “When students see the connection between the course content and the real world, the ‘light goes on’ and it’s energizing to watch and be a part of the transition.”

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