Two faculty newcomers – Yasmine Haddad, DDS, PhD, and Debra Stewart, DDS – along with popular faculty veteran Harold Henson, RDH, MEd, have won teaching awards at The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston.
Haddad is the winner of the John Freeman Award for Outstanding Non-Clinical Teaching, chosen by first- and second-year dental students. Stewart won the John P. McGovern Award for Outstanding Teaching, selected by third- and fourth-year dental students. And dental hygiene students have chosen Henson as winner of the Lorna J. Bruning Award for Clinical Teaching Excellence.
They were among 10 faculty members were nominated for teaching awards this year. The other nominees were Dr. Stephen Laman, Dr. Art Jeske, Dr. Amity Gardner, Dr. Long-Duc Tran, Dr. Ted Pate, Dr. Dedra Davis-Wallace and Dr. Cameron Jeter. Henson was the only nominee for the dental hygiene award.
The John H. Freeman Award for Outstanding Non-Clinical Teaching
Yasmine Haddad, DDS, PhD, a clinical assistant professor in both the Department of Diagnostic and Biomedical Sciences and the Department of General Practice and Dental Public Health, won raves from students after just one full semester of teaching at UTSD. She joined the faculty in fall 2012 and teaches biomedical sciences, human biology and other courses to first-year dental students.
In nominating her, students praised Haddad’s enthusiasm for teaching, citing her well-prepared, engaging lectures, helpful tips for learning course material and her availability outside of class, including on weekends.
In class, Haddad stresses to students the connection between the basic science they learn as first-year students and the clinical dentistry they will practice later. She even invites students to shadow her when she works in private practice on Saturdays.
Haddad’s own career spans both dentistry and scientific research. She received her DDS from UTSD in 2001 and then earned a PhD in cancer biology from UT Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine.
Haddad encourages students to take full advantage of the help, guidance and mentoring offered by UTSD faculty.
“We have extremely knowledgeable and experienced faculty who care about their students and want them to succeed,” Haddad said. “I would love for students to learn as much as possible from our faculty and be aware that when they go out into the real world, many times employers see them as business, rather than as mentees.”
The Freeman award was not the only reward for her efforts. As the semester was winding down, a Class of 2016 officer dropped by Haddad’s office to deliver freshly baked cookies from first-year students as a token of their appreciation.
The John P. McGovern Award for Outstanding Teaching
Debra Stewart, DDS, is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of General Practice and Dental Public Health who has practiced dentistry for more than 30 years. She began teaching at UTSD part-time in 2012, working as first attending dentist in student clinic’s Yellow Practice.
Student comments on nominations forms extolled Stewart’s patience, positive mood and approachable manner, saying she’s always there to help and answer questions or offer personalized instruction, but is never overbearing. Students said she respects their ability to work independently.
“Dr. Stewart always makes sure that Yellow Bay is in a good mood and ready to take on the tasks of the day,” a student nominator wrote. “She’s a fantastic faculty member, as well as an amazing person.”
Stewart received her DDS from UTSD in 1980. During her career, she has received numerous honors from professional dental associations and has lectured nationally and internationally on a variety of dental topics. She said she tries to share with students her knowledge of “real world” dentistry outside of the dental school clinic.
“It’s important to help students think inside and outside the box, encourage them to come up with their own solutions for treatment and help them gain the confidence and knowledge they need to be successful,” Stewart said. “I love working with the students and enjoy watching them grow, learn and accomplish their dreams of become dentists.”
The Lorna J. Bruning Award for Clinical Teaching Excellence
Harold Henson, RDH, MEd, an associate professor and director of clinical simulation in the Department of Periodontics and Dental Hygiene, is a two-time winner of the Bruning Award, having first won in 2008.
In nomination forms submitted by nearly two dozen dental hygiene students, Henson was praised as a devoted and caring dental professional, instructor, advisor and role model. Students credit Henson with challenging them to think critically in both the classroom and clinic and for going the extra mile to help them succeed – such as helping them prepare for board exams or ensuring the students had sufficient dental hygiene equipment in clinic.
“He is consistently one of the favorites among students, and his dedication and devotion have led to great learning experiences for students in the clinic, lecture and simulation lab,” a student’s nomination letter said.
Henson’s commitment to education has been a driving force in his career. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston and then a dental hygiene certificate from UTSD in 1995. He joined the faculty shortly after but continued his schooling, earning a master’s degree in education from the University of Houston and Baylor College of Medicine. He is currently completing a PhD in adult education from Texas A&M University.
In the clinic, Henson encourages students to critique their work and learn from mistakes.
“I want them to problem-solve, I’ll ask them to assess themselves and think about what they would have done differently,” he said.
Henson is also a distinguished figure in the profession, having led dental hygiene organizations at the local, state and national levels, as well as receiving numerous teaching awards.