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The University of Alabama

Meet the 2013 OCTA Winners

The University of Alabama National Alumni Association has announced the 2013 recipients of the University’s highest honor for excellence in teaching – the Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award. Established in 1976, the award recognizes dedication to the teaching profession and the positive influence and effect outstanding teachers have on their students.

Sarah Barry

I am so honored to work with students who are inquisitive and open, and who push me to try new approaches and concepts.”

Sarah M. Barry, associate professor of theatre and dance, joined the faculty in 2006. Barry has taught all levels of modern dance technique, dance history and choreography classes. She enjoys connecting all aspects of dance by including anatomy, somatic and history in her technique classes.

She has also established the only service-learning course offered in her department by enhancing the Approaches to Dance Instruction class. In a partnership with Tuscaloosa City Schools, Barry takes students enrolled in this class to teach dance to elementary students for several weeks during their PE class time. UA students gain hands-on teaching experience and city school students enjoy dance instruction not available otherwise in the public schools.

Teri Henley

“The curiosity of my students and their willingness to tackle challenging real-world projects keeps me relevant and inspired.”


Teri K. Henley, instructor, joined the faculty of the department of advertising and public relations in 2007. She is adviser for the student-run Capstone Agency, which implemented campaigns, including Alabama Reads, a statewide initiative funded by the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Alabama Public Libraries, in 2010. Most recently, the agency received more than $200,000 in grants from The Century Council to implement the award-winning LessThanUThink anti-binge drinking campaign. Henley has garnered more than 50 local, regional and national awards including the Public Relations Society of America Silver Anvil Award of Excellence in 2011 and the Teahan National Chapter Award for University Service from the Public Relations Student Society of America in 2012.

Henley serves as adviser to the UA Public Relations Bateman Competition team, which achieved a national honorable mention each of the past two years. Last year, the team partnered with Tuscaloosa City Schools for an anti-bullying campaign and received the UA Center for Community Based Partnerships Award for Outstanding Initiated Student Project. Since 2009, she has been adviser for UA’s National Student Advertising Competition Team, landing two district wins and two national second place honors in five years.


James McNaughton

“I’m glad to work in a profession that calls for concentration, empathy, intelligence, humor, knowledge and a desire to understand — and these are the qualities my students show! Thanks to them all.”

Dr. James McNaughton is an assistant professor in the English department. He joined the faculty in 2007 after teaching a year as a senior fellow in the Blount Undergraduate Initiative. He teaches graduate seminars on literary modernism and a broad range of undergraduate courses. He recently established Alabama in Ireland, a study abroad program in conjunction with the National University of Ireland, Galway, where UA students take classes with Galway faculty and also study James Joyce’s “Ulysses” with McNaughton. He works with numerous undergraduate and graduate English students at all stages of their studies and theses.

He employs the same tactics that many effective teachers do: Socratic exchange in the classroom and office and innovative assignments that illustrate how reading and writing are living practices. His students perform a marathon public reading of “Ulysses,” write reviews of recently published collections of poems and attend performances of plays read in class.



Joanne Terrell

“Teaching our students has brought me joy, wisdom and a deep appreciation of how our students can make a difference to so many people in our world.”

Joanne Terrell, instructor, has been a School of Social Work faculty member for 14 years. She teaches in the MSW and BSW programs.

Terrell was instrumental in developing a Skills Laboratory Course to assist graduate social work students in developing clinical practice skills. It is regarded as an innovative and valuable learning tool for students as a way to integrate theory with practice in the classroom.

Terrell has also been on numerous committees whose focus has been to redefine and enhance curriculum in a way to better engage students in the learning process. She has been a leader in developing classroom methods and practices that inform and inspire students in their pursuit of a career in social work.

In addition to preparing students for a career in social work, Terrell has served as a mentor, adviser and role model to both undergraduate and graduate students, and served on numerous dissertation committees.

She tries to encourage students to advocate and show up for underprivileged and underserved populations. Her philosophy of social work is that it is a profession in which we must be a voice for disenfranchised and vulnerable groups of people.