Fairfield University instructor/alumna caps year of accolades with adjunct teacher of the year honors


Image: D PilottiFairfield University has named Bridgeport, Conn. resident Dawn Pilotti '97, as its 2013 adjunct teacher of the year, rounding out a string of honors for the University art history teacher.

Pilotti, a member of Fairfield's Class of 1997 who is a middle school teacher at St. Ann Academy in Bridgeport, will receive her honor this month.

"Her excellent teaching evaluations evince significant student learning in her courses, and her deep devotion to our students and our Jesuit mission was evident throughout her dossier," said Mary Frances Malone, Ph.D., associate vice president for academic affairs at Fairfield.

In nominating Pilotti for the honor, Marice Rose, director of the art history program, pointed to her innovative teaching techniques, her engagement with the 'big questions', and her ability to foster a critical approach to art and culture among her students. In addition, Pilotti is involved with Fairfield's Creative Life Residential Program, a living/learning initiative focused on the arts, and the Summer Academic Immersion Program and in programmatic assessment tools within the art history program.

In October 2012, Pilotti, who holds a master's degree from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, won the Tim Russert Make A Difference Award, given by the Inner City Foundation. The award was established by journalist Tim Russert more than a decade ago to honor two of his teachers who changed his life and set him on the right path. One award is given annually to a Catholic schoolteacher in the Diocese of Bridgeport who has made a significant difference in the lives of his or her students.

Pilotti, who teaches math and social studies at St. Ann, was selected for bringing programs such as National Park Service/National Geographic BioBlitz and Free the Children to the school, giving urban children opportunities they might not otherwise have.

"Her students are learning how to serve the world and make a difference in the lives of others every day," said Dr. Rose. "These opportunities have changed how the children view their own studies, and have in turn changed the climate of the school to one where students are excited about learning."

In November 2012, the Free The Children projects were featured in a "60 Minutes" episode because St. Ann's club was considered a model for the United States. The children raised enough money to build a school in Kenya and four students went there to help build and open it. The children's projects have benefitted education for communities in both Kenya and Haiti.

Last spring, Pilotti was invited to New Orleans as the advisor to the national youth ambassador for the National Park Service/National Geographic BioBlitz and she brought some of her students with her. The students took part in the making of a publication through E.O. Wilson Biodiversity Foundation, recording their experiences in New Orleans.

She was also nominated for a MAKERS Award during the past year. MAKERS: Women Who Make America is an ongoing initiative that aims to be the largest and most dynamic collection of women's stories ever assembled. The MAKERS board of advisors and a filmmaking team select winners twice a year, striving to capture stories of women from all walks of life with diverse experiences and perspectives.

Pilotti was in the news last spring for encouraging her St. Ann students to take a 24-hour vow of silence - no texting, no social media - to bring awareness to current issues around the world. The children each picked causes that were special to them. Every child at St. Ann participated and the initiative was covered by Cablevision, WTNH and the Connecticut Post.

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Media Contact: Meredith Guinness, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2950, mguinness@fairfield.edu

Posted on November 7, 2013

Vol. 46, No. 108