‘My approach to teaching is underpinned by a desire to reach out, to make a connection, to inspire and to create an environment where the students can engage, learn, challenge, critique and question.’
Verona’s nominators, her Head of Department and a colleague, drew attention to her commitment to ‘developing confidence and self-belief, and emphasizing visual, interactive and transformative learning’.
An example of such innovation is the development of the Virtual Land Law Field Trip Project; enabled through a University Teaching Prize for Innovation (2016) where bespoke videos now run alongside the module. These represent different perspectives and voices on issues connected to, but pushing beyond and challenging, the curriculum. They engage social justice issues such as homelessness, the housing crisis and the Grenfell disaster.
Verona’s students attest to her skilful and caring teaching, one commenting how: ‘she goes beyond her call of duty when it comes to helping students achieve their goals… she aims to instil within them a sense of confidence in their personal capabilities which allows them to exceed their own expectations.’ As well as providing more traditional pastoral support, Verona also addresses student anxiety and barriers to student engagement through pioneering workshops on confidence building, and by bringing into the curriculum activities which might otherwise be extra-curricular and only taken up by more confident students. Together these initiatives represent her ‘absolute commitment to helping our students become who they are capable of becoming and to help them to develop skills, confidence and belief, especially in what can be a very difficult period of transition’.
Verona’s nomination details her significant undertakings in outreach and widening participation work. These include such pre-university programmes as: Making Choices, Harry Potter Taster Day, Sussex Study Experience, Stand up for Justice and the Aim Higher Summer School. ‘Through this work’, her sponsors observe, ‘Verona has been able to significantly enhance student learning and to help to break down barriers to social mobility.’