Dr. Andrew (Andy) Parnaby says that he chose a career in education when it became clear to him that he was never going to play second base for the New York Yankees. In what proved to be a wise move, he is now thriving in academia and is the 2017 recipient of the Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU) Distinguished Teaching Award.
An Associate Professor of History, Dr. Parnaby has been teaching undergraduate students for over twenty years, often learning as much from them as they do from him. “One thing that I have learned from students is that there is no substitute for the joy of discovery. And it is the raw materials of historical inquiry – the documents, letters, and artifacts – that can inspire that joy,” says Dr. Parnaby. “These raw materials are accessible to students. Handling them builds confidence. Seeking connections requires imagination. And our mutual ignorance generates further enquiry – at least when everything works!”
The day-to-day classroom interactions with students fuels Dr. Parnaby’s passion for education and knowledge sharing. He says, “Every year, the classroom dynamic is different, yielding different kinds of results and different sorts of challenges. At the other end of the spectrum, I love working with students one-on-one on their honours thesis projects. This is teaching of a different sort, rewarding in its own way.”
Well deserving, but always humble Dr. Parnaby credits his success to the support and collaborative nature that he thrives in at Cape Breton University, saying, “The intellectual and pedagogical debts I have amassed throughout my career are many and they run deep, but I’d like to acknowledge one specifically. And it is the debt I owe to Cape Breton University, where over the past 15 years a culture of teaching excellence has flourished.”
Dr. Parnaby further explains, “The day-to-day contributions of my colleagues across all areas of study and in each academic school have, I think, exerted the most influence on me. More professors at CBU, more of the time, are thinking about how to be excellent teachers. And it’s precisely those conversations that have shaped the institution’s rewarding, institutional teaching culture.”
So, what was obviously a loss for the Yankees, was clearly a win for Cape Breton University.
Congratulations, Dr. Parnaby!