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Cannon-Brown Adds Outstanding Teaching Award to Accomplishments

By Ian Nyanin

SOC Sandy Cannon-Brown

School of Communication professor Sandy Cannon-Brown teaches the Environmental and Wildlife Production course

Professor Sandy Cannon-Brown has a lengthy list of accomplishments that span her successful career, including most recently, the American University Outstanding Teaching in an Adjunct Appointment Award for 2011. This is the third time in four years that the award has gone to an adjunct professor from SOC; Robert Lehrman from the Political Communication division won in 2010, and Christine Lawrence, now a full-time Journalism faculty member, took the award in 2008.

“I accept the award on behalf of the amazing students who make me, and AU, look good,” she says. “I am very humbled by the award, because I have so much to learn about teaching.”

“I owe this honor to my AU role models, including phenomenal professors such as Pat Aufderheide, Sarah Menke-Fish, and Chris Palmer,” she adds. “If I've done anything right, it's because I try to emulate them.”

Cannon-Brown has a background in film production, acting as the founder and president of VideoTakes Inc. Her company is a one-stop shop that provides filmmaking services from inception to post production on a variety of projects. The majority of her work deals with social issues including health, the environment, and human rights.

Her past honors include the International Television Association Special Achievement Awards for Directing Non-Professional Talent, Script Writing, and Directing. She was also named “Woman of Vision”, the highest prize given by Women in Film & Video.

Cannon-Brown is currently an adjunct professor in the School of Communication and an associate director for the School’s Center for Environmental Filmmaking. In that capacity, she teaches the Environmental and Wildlife Production course.

Students in her class produce a documentary, EcoViews, for the local PBS affiliate, Maryland Public Television. The program, in whole or in part, has won multiple awards including student Emmys, CINE Golden Eagles, TIVA Peer Awards, and a National Student Academy Award Regional Finalist award.

“When I started teaching 8 years ago, I had this naive notion that I would be a living textbook for my students; that what I'd learned in my 25 years as a video professional was more than enough information to prepare them for careers in media,” she says about her experience as an educator,” she says. 

“I quickly discovered that I learn much more from students than they can ever learn from me,” she adds. “I try to keep up with technology and culture, master what they know, wrap it in the wisdom of my years, and give it back to them with more texture and context.”

Cannon-Brown’s course is offered once each academic year, and will next be offered in Fall 2011.