Two University of South Florida (USF) College of Education faculty members were selected to receive the 2022-2023 Margaret Burlington Tritle Excellence in Teaching Faculty Award, an annual award presented to college faculty members who demonstrate exemplary teaching.
This year's award recipients are Meghan Bratkovich, an assistant professor of Foreign Language and ESOL education, and Laura Sabella, an associate professor of instruction, both at USF's Tampa campus.
The Margaret Burlington Tritle Excellence in Teaching Faculty Award was created in 2017 through a gift made to the College of Education by USF alumnus Lawrence Tritle to honor his late wife's teaching legacy. Faculty recipients receive an award to support their research, professional travel, and other activities related to teaching and scholarship at USF.
Bratkovich is an assistant professor of Foreign Language and ESOL Education on the Tampa campus. She holds graduate degrees from Wheaton College, Columbia University, and Montclair State University.
She began her career teaching high school English as a Peace Corps volunteer in Romania. She taught English in the Dominican Republic, Indonesia, and the United States before transitioning to teacher education and teacher development.
At USF, she works with secondary education preservice teachers, graduate students in the TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Master's program, and doctoral students in the TESLA (Technology in Education and Second Language Acquisition) and English Education Ph.D. programs.
Her students' commitment to equity and social justice in education continually inspires her. She strives to equip them with the skills they need to become exceptional educators, lifelong educators, and lasting agents of change.
Her favorite thing about teaching is giving students the courage to stretch the boundaries of their comfort zones and the confidence to make their classrooms more accessible and inclusive spaces for English Learners. Her least favorite thing about teaching is grading.
She also leads faculty learning communities and works with fellow USF faculty members on cross-cultural communication, culturally responsive practices, and teaching academic writing to multilingual students.
"As I'm sure Margaret knew well, this is not merely a profession but a calling to nurture young minds and empower students to be the best versions of themselves. This award reaffirms my commitment to this calling and encourages me to continue striving to ensure that all students are taught by compassionate and skilled teachers. This award is not just a symbol of recognition, but a reminder to uphold the generosity of spirit and dedication to students that Margaret cherished," said Bratkovich.
When she's not teaching, she's busy fostering kittens for a local animal rescue and trying to persuade her colleagues to adopt said kittens.
Sabella is an associate professor of instruction in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Learning. In addition, she is a USF Tampa Campus faculty member, teaching English education, clinical education, and secondary final internships and seminars. Before coming to USF, her background included teaching high school English and ESOL Resource and ten years teaching Pre-K.
In addition to her teaching responsibilities, Sabella has served to coordinate clinical placements, and she opened the inaugural office for field and clinical education for the college. In addition, she supports preservice teachers in all endeavors, particularly in secondary programs, as they learn to teach through practice and reflection.
"I am genuinely honored to be recognized in this way by my colleagues, and I am humbled and so appreciative. My passion is sharing with the next generation of educators all the wonder and joy that is teaching while also equipping them for the rigors and challenges. With a little humor and a lot of love and caring, I strive to give them the foundation that will truly allow them and the children they serve to make a positive and lasting impact on our world," said Sabella.
Aside from her busy teaching schedule, she enjoys spending time with her five sons, five grandchildren, and her husband, Frank.