2024 Summer Institute of Teaching & Learning

SparkED: Kindling Success

Schedule with Speakers

Day 1: May 15

TIME Apodaca 207 Apodaca 102
9:00 – 9:15


Eli Collins-Brown, Director, Coulter Faculty Commons
9:15 – 10:15 Opening Session: Campfire Quests: Embarking on Teaching Adventures
Alesia Jennings and April Tallant
10:15 10:30 Break


Partners in Student Success William Moultrie, Associate VC of Student Success
11:30- 12:30 Lunch Baked Potato Bar
12:30 – 1:30 Trash to Treasure: The Story of Green Energy Park
Timm Muth
Building the Fire: Essential Elements of Service- Learning Pedagogy
Joy Mischley
1:30 – 1:45 Break
1:45 – 2:45 A Holistic View of Health Science Careers: A Collaboration between CCPD and Health Sciences
Carrie Hachadurian and Ericka Zimmerman
Igniting Success: Kindling the Potential of Gen Z Students in Higher Ed
Marianna DaCosta and April Messer
2:45 – 3:00  Wrap-Up


Day 2 May 16

TIME  Apodaca 207 Apodaca 102
9:00 – 9:15


3 people share one significant thing they learned yesterday
9:15 – 10:15 Striking a Match & Fanning the Flame: Igniting Student Career Interest Beyond the Classroom
Reggie Cline & Em Pressley
Unbound Grading:  Rethinking Classroom Assessment
Ike Webster and Ashley Wasmund
10:15 – 10:30 Break
10:30 – 11:30 S’more Knowledge: Illuminating Paths with AI in Course Creation
Alesia Jennings & Ian Selig
11:30 – 12:15 Lunch Deli Express
Chocolate Fountain 11:30-1:15
12:15 – 1:10 Build your campfire group activity

Campfire Stories (6 min. each)

  • Fire and Steel -Timm Muth
  • Happy Campers: Game-based Learning Experiences for Students -April Tallant
  • The World of Fireflies -Krista Schmidt & Sara Rivera
  • “Is it Like Reading Through a Straw?” -Janina DeHart
  • How to Get S’more Out of Life –Brittany Hudgins-Graham
1:10-1:15 Wrap Up
1:15 – 3:00


Closing session: Beyond S’mores: Using Nature to Ignite Imagination, Connection, & Well-Being, Forest Bathing Talk & Walk
Debby Singleton


Alesia Jennings, PhD, is an Associate Instructor in the Chemistry department at Western Carolina University. She is currently serving as a Faculty Fellow for the University’s teaching and learning center, Coulter Faculty Commons. Her research interest, in this role, is mentoring new faculty at the institution. She has won several teaching awards including the student-nominated “Faculty of the Year” Award.
April Tallant, PhD, RDN, LDN is the senior educational developer with Coulter Faculty Commons. She has worked in higher education for more than 20 years as an instructor, tenured associate professor, and associate dean. Dr. Tallant has been recognized with university and college level awards including the Board of Governor’s College of Health and Human Sciences (CHHS), Innovative Teaching Award, CHHS Faculty Scholar Award, WCU’s Center for Community Engagement & Service Learning’s Outstanding Achievement for Service Award, WCU’s Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award, and WCU’s Excellence in Teaching Liberal Studies Award. In 2024, Dr. Tallant was recognized as WCU’s All-SOCON Staff of the year. Dr. Tallant is an executive board member of the North Carolina ACE Women’s Network, Delta Kappa Gamma International Society for Key Women Educators Alpha Iota Chapter, and the Community Table of Sylva.

William R. Moultrie serves as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Success at Western Carolina University (WCU). In this capacity, Moultrie is responsible for leading the Division of Student Success, which includes the Writing and Learning Commons, Math Tutoring Center, Office of Accessibility Resources, Advising Center, and the Office of Student Retention, encompassing the Office of Mentoring and Persistence to Success (MAPS) and the Office of Student Transitions. Additionally, Moultrie oversees the logistical planning of important university events and programs including Spring and Fall Commencements, the Academic Success Program, Catamount Gap, and New Student Convocation.

Prior to his appointment as AVCSS, Moultrie served as the Interim Dean of University College at North Carolina Central University. Moultrie’s work with academic support (Academic Coaching Services, Supplemental Instruction, Tutoring, and Writing Studio) increased student use of services and assisted in the continuous progression towards the University’s goal of 85% first-to-second-year retention rate.

As a higher education administrator with 10+ years of progressive experience, Moultrie has dedicated his multi-dimensional career to enhancing student success, developing enrollment-driven strategies, fostering faculty and staff development, strengthening academic programs, implementing high-impact policies and procedures, and promoting a culture of academic excellence.

Moultrie graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Marketing from Albany State University. He furthered his studies at Albany State University, earning a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and later his Juris Doctor from North Carolina Central School of Law.

Timm Muth is an engineer, educator, scientist, and ardent supporter of renewable energy resources. Prior to coming to WCU to teach, Timm spent 17 years as the driving force behind the creation and development of the Jackson County Green Energy Park in Dillsboro. Timm Muth
Joy Mischley has a rich background in community and academic engagement through her work with DukeEngage, the American India Foundation, B.N. Duke Scholars Program, and other associated roles in higher education engagement and leadership. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Duke University and a master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Joy is the Interim Associate Director of Community Engaged Learning at WCU’s Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning (CCESL.) Her role is to facilitate service-learning pedagogy, create resources to support community-engaged learning, and to develop relationships with faculty and departments. Joy Mischley
Carrie Hachadurian is the Associate Director for Career Integrated Learning for the Center for Career and Professional Development. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English (WCU ’06) and a Master of Education in Higher Education Student Affairs (WCU ’19). With more than a decade of experience, Carrie enjoys working with faculty to design career exploratory courses, integrate career readiness competencies into existing curricula, or serve as a consultant to departments wishing to implement professional development courses within a major. Carrie Hachadurian
Ericka Zimmerman is the Director of the School of Health Sciences and Professor at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina. In her current role she leads a multi-disciplinary unit of experienced faculty and staff in the health sciences professions of athletic training, emergency medical care, environmental health, integrated health sciences, nutrition and dietetics, and recreational therapy. Ericka Zimmerman
Dr. Mariana Da Costa is deeply dedicated to student success and continuously updates her pedagogical practices to meet their needs. She joined Western Carolina University in 2014 as a mentor and transitioned to full-time faculty in 2019. Currently serving as Assistant Professor of Nursing and Program Director for the Traditional BSN program, she’s also a faculty advisor for various inclusive excellence and community engagement programs. Dr. Da Costa’s commitment to student success extends beyond academia; she works as a float pool nurse and educator at Haywood Regional Medical Center and Harris Regional Hospital. With extensive experience in healthcare leadership, including infection prevention and patient care services, she’s committed to community service as a board member for Kids Advocacy Resource Efforts (KARE) and Child Medical Collaborative. Dr. Da Costa holds degrees from the University of Florida, the University of Miami, East Tennessee State University, and Duke University. She resides in Haywood County with her two daughters and enjoys activities like yoga, reading, and hiking with her family. Mariana DaCosta
April Messer, PhD, RN, CCRN is an Assistant Professor with Western Carolina University’s School of Nursing. She currently serves as the Associate Director for the School of Nursing and teaches prelicensure nursing students. Dr. Messer’s research interests include improving care for people with substance use disorders and strategies aimed at optimizing nursing education for prelicensure students. April Messer
Reggie Cline is an alumna of the WCU Criminology and Criminal Justice Department. She received her Master’s degree in Criminology and Public Sociology from UNCW. After graduate school, she served as a Probation/ Parole Officer for North Carolina for over 6 years. During that time, she specialized as a field training officer and drug court officer on the Community Recovery Court team. She then transitioned to a role as a Child Protective Services Investigator for the Department of Social Services, where she served for 2 years. She returned to WCU in August 2022, teaching in the Criminal Justice and EDM programs where she enjoys being able to share her practical experience with her students. Her research interests include vulnerable populations, queer criminology, restorative justice and criminal justice reform. She believes in an engaged teaching style and a balance of mixed pedagogical approaches to help meet her students’ learning needs.


Emma Elisabeth Pressley is a fourth-year student at Western Carolina University, pursuing Bachelor of Science degrees in both Criminal Justice and Forensic Biology along with a minor in Chemistry. While pursuing these degrees, she has maintained a position as a member of the Brinson Honors College as well as a GPA of 3.731. Upon graduation in December 2024, she hopes to use her passion for helping others and teaching new skills in the Criminal Justice field by becoming a Probation and Parole Officer. She is interested in research on queer criminology, mental health in the justice system, juvenile offenders, and children of those involved in the justice system.


Emma Pressley
Ike Webster is an accomplished Theatre Maker and Educator.  He has Music Directed on three continents and arrived at Western Carolina via Honolulu, HI in 2019.  You may recognize his work on the Stage and Screen Mainstage, most recently with their production of Legally Blonde.  As a former Electrical Engineer, Ike is always looking for way to increase the efficiency and efficacy of his teaching and learning practices.


Ike Webster
Ashlee Wasmund is an Associate Professor of Musical Theatre and a nationally engaged theatre professional. She began her artistic and organizational work in the dynamic theatre landscape of Chicago before transitioning into her role in academic leadership at WCU’s School of Stage & Screen.

Ashlee is committed to nurturing emerging talent as evidenced by her involvement in student apprenticeships and co-presentations at international conferences and at nationally recognized theatre houses.

She is driven by her goal of promoting imagination, innovation, and a sense of humanity in her students and works alongside her esteemed musical theatre colleagues to create targeted and tailored initiatives to do just that using the core values of Authentic Curiosity, Daring Experimentation, Joyful Contribution, and Radical Critical Thought.


Ashlee Wasmund
Ian Selig is a leader in artificial intelligence (AI) and education. He guides a team that has tracked AI developments since 2022 creating digital resources and workshops for educators. He presents nationally on AI in Education, AI Literacy, and AI in the Instructional Design Process. Ian is currently on a UNC System-supported Faculty Learning Community on Generative AI in Teaching and Learning, WCU’s AI Working Group, offers consultation services with guidance on the latest developments in AI impacting professional work, enhancing student learning, and improving teaching practices.


As a Learning Technologist, Ian works with faculty to design motivational instruction that empowers learners to grow beyond expectation. With a background in Instructional Technology, Curriculum Design, and Online Learning, he partners with faculty to meet their needs and goals. He is actively involved in scholarship on how students and faculty use AI tools to support their work.


Ian Selig
Krista Schmidt is a professor in the Access, Research and Instruction Services department at Hunter Library. Serving as the science librarian at WCU since 2003 with an MSLS from UNC-CH, she originally hails from East Central Illinois


Krista Schmidt
Sara Rivera (she/they) is a graduate student in the Biology department working on the FirefLI database project with Krista Schmidt. Their thesis research focuses on the evolution of tropical, predatory fireflies. In her free time, Sara also does science outreach with her own organization, THEM in STEM, which focuses on making science accessible and entertaining. They will graduate this summer and start work as an Insect Curator for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in July.


Sara Rivera
Janina De Hart serves as the Assistant Director of Accessibility Resources. As part of her role, she coordinates coaching services for neurodivergent students and will be coordinating a new campus initiative this fall tailored to support students with ADHD. Prior to transitioning to OAR in Fall 2019, she worked at WCU in various academic support roles and coordinated transition programs for first-year students for over 15 years.


Janina DeHart
Dr. Brittany Hudgins-Graham began her nursing studies at Isothermal Community College (Spindale, NC) and graduated with an associate degree in 2010. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Appalachian State University (Boone, NC) in 2012. For graduate studies, she attended Gardner-Webb University (Boiling Springs, NC) and received her Master of Science in Nursing (2015) and Doctor of Education (2018) degrees. She has been involved in nursing education since 2014. Her primary background prior to entering nursing education was in emergency nursing. Dr. Hudgins-Graham serves as an Assistant Professor of Nursing and is a Coulter Faculty Commons Faculty Fellow at Western Carolina University.


Brittany Hudgins-Graham
Debby Singleton is a retired Associate Instructor from the Parks & Recreation Management Program at WCU. As a faculty member, Debby was recognized with a variety of university and college level teaching and service awards, presented at numerous conferences, led an array of professional development workshops, and collaborated with many community partners. Debby is also a certified Nature & Forest Therapy Guide with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (ANFT) and a passionate advocate for the wellness benefits of time spent in and around nature. As an educator, outdoor leader, facilitator, and artist, Debby blends a unique perspective of science, creativity, connection, and joy into her guided experiences. Debby’s current business, “Drawn to Nature”, provides nature and art-based programs, guided Forest Bathing walks, nature immersion hikes, and creative exploration programming in Western North Carolina and beyond.


Debby Singleton