Three faculty chairs named

Congratulations to High School Math Teacher Cindy Crenshaw, Fifth Grade Social Studies Teacher Connie Fink, and High School Science Teacher Dawn Matthies, all named distinguished faculty chairs during USN’s faculty and staff gathering to start the school year.
By Sierra Smith, Communications Specialist

On Tuesday, August 10, USN faculty and staff celebrated the start of a new school year with drinks, dinner, and dessert outdoors at The Old School. During the festivities, Vince Durnan honored three distinguished faculty members as new recipients of the Lisa and Mike Shmerling Chair for Excellence in Teaching, the Bovender Family Faculty Chair, and the first Robert O. Beauchamp Memorial Chair.

High School Math Teacher Cindy Crenshaw was named the Lisa and Mike Shmerling Chair for Excellence in Teaching. Created in 2005, the Shmerling Chair was USN’s first endowed chair created to honor, on a rotating basis, the school’s most outstanding and experienced faculty members. The chair is awarded every four years to a USN teacher whose contributions to the school have inspired students and colleagues in support of the school’s mission to model the best in educational practices. Past chair holders are retired Fifth Grade Social Studies Dee Holder Hicks Bradshaw ’58, retired High School Science Teacher Bill Rodriguez, retired Fourth Grade Teacher Nikki Hunt, and First Grade Teacher Marte Kennedy. 

In recognizing Crenshaw, Director Vince Durnan said, “Cindy has a relentless desire to further her own professional practice. She is interested in how to be a better math teacher for students, and a mentor for math teachers … Amongst the HS faculty she is widely regarded as a sage with good advice and counsel.” 

Fifth Grade Social Studies Teacher Connie Fink was awarded the Bovender Family Faculty Chair. Established in 2014, the Bovender Chair is awarded every three years to a University School of Nashville teacher with five to fifteen years of teaching experience who models the best in innovative teaching practices and thorough involvement in the life of the school. Seventh Grade Math Teacher Joel Bezaire and High School Math Teacher Justin Fitzpatrick held the chair previously. 

Of Fink, one of her many nominators said, “Connie is among the most innovative, creative, collaborative, curious, hardworking, and dedicated educators I've ever known. She is constantly seeking professional development opportunities to extend her knowledge of her subject area and effective teaching strategies … Teaching and learning is not a job for Connie, it's who she is.” 

High School Science Teacher Dawn Matthies was honored as the inaugural Robert O. Beauchamp Memorial Chair. The Beauchamp Chair was established in honor of distinguished Peabody Demonstration School faculty member Robert O. Beauchamp and will be awarded every five years to a science teacher. 

“Dawn is the constant link between USN and Vanderbilt’s research community, placing numerous students in research labs, several of those placements resulting in peer review publications for our students,” Durnan remarked. “She’s been a constant leader in how we utilize the USN wetlands at the River Campus and she infuses place-based learning into our science curriculum. Dawn has taught 1000s of students the foundation of the biological world, creating a sense of curiosity, wonder and future careers.”

Each recipient celebrated with remarks of gratitude and appreciation for their colleagues and the culture at USN that has allowed them success and growth in their professional pursuits.

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