Although Jessica Saigh was never chosen for the cheerleading squad in school, you’d never know it by observing her interaction with students at the University of Missouri–St. Louis. To them, she’s a one-woman pep rally.
It’s that spirited teaching style that helped Saigh, an adjunct instructor of English as a Second Language at UMSL, nab the 2013 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in the category of Part-Time Faculty Member.
“Every day, I work to get my students enthusiastic about learning English and studying at UMSL,” said Saigh, a resident of St. Louis. “When they think it’s too hard or they want to throw in the towel, I give them a pep talk worthy of a pre-game booster, urging them not to give up.”
A plaque and honorarium of $1,000 will be presented to Saigh at the Chancellor’s State of the University Address on Sept. 26.
Saigh began teaching ESL in 1991, and has been at UMSL since 2000. She has always loved language learning and international people and cultures.
“I can’t imagine living my life without foreign nationals around me,” she said. “I am immensely honored to be receiving this award. I am devoted to UMSL, its students and teaching. It has always been a joy teaching here, so it’s nice to be appreciated.“
Denise Mussman, associate teaching professor of foreign languages and literature at UMSL and director of the ESL program, praised Saigh’s outstanding work in helping Saudi Arabian students at UMSL overcome their language difficulties.
“Her expertise with helping that population has been an asset to our program,” Mussman said. “Students appreciate both her expertise in the field as well as her passion for their learning.”
Of helping Arabic speakers in particular, Saigh said she noticed a need for that demographic because “their language and background is so different from our’s.”
She earned a master’s degree in applied linguistics from Indiana University in Bloomington and a master’s degree in library and information science from the University of Missouri–Columbia. She earned bachelor’s degrees in French literature and general linguistics from the University of Kansas in Lawrence.