Academy for Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) Excellence

working document (8/15)

The Virginia Tech Graduate School developed the Academy for Graduate Teaching Assistant Excellence (Academy) in August 2014. The purpose of the Academy is two-fold: (1) to enhance the knowledge and skills in teaching through the provision of opportunities for graduate students to receive advanced education and training in innovative teaching and learning strategies; and (2) to recognize excellence in teaching by graduate students.


All Virginia Tech (VT) graduate students are eligible to become involved in the Academy and participate in its initiatives. The Academy is open to all graduate students from all VT campus locations. There are three student categories of Academy membership: Member of Learning Community for GTA Excellence (Member) and advancement into the Academy as Associate, and Fellow.

Members of the Learning Community are graduate students who are interested in enhancing their knowledge and understanding of teaching and learning. Members are graduate students who have no or limited experience as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA). Associates are graduate students who have at least one semester of teaching experience* at VT and/or participated in curriculum development. Fellows are graduate students have more than two semesters of teaching experience* at VT and/or curriculum development and outstanding teaching evaluations. (*Teaching experience includes GTA assignments, volunteer GTA positions, instructor for summer programs, First Year Experience courses, Learning/Learning communities courses, adjunct positions and other pertinent activity.)

Academy members must have a commitment to the importance of teaching, creating inclusive learning environments, and improving educational experiences of students in their classrooms and learning environments. The benefits of membership include access to Academy programs and functions, mentoring by Academy Faculty Scholars, interaction with colleagues, and more. Responsibilities vary by member type and include participation in Academy functions, serving as a peer mentor, active engagement in the GRAD 5004 GTA Workshop, contribution to the VT GTA Forum (, and more.

Virginia Tech faculty and postdoctoral scholars will be invited to participate in the Academy by serving as Academy Faculty Scholars. Nominations for Academy Faculty Scholar will be sought from the Academy for Teaching Excellence (ATE) and the Diggs Teaching Scholars. VT faculty not associated with ATE or Diggs will also be invited to apply as Academy Faculty Scholars. Academy Faculty Scholars (AFS) will be asked to serve as mentors, serve on the Academy selection committee, and assist with other responsibilities and activities.

Membership Application

Graduate students are invited to indicate their interest in becoming a Member, Associate or Fellow by submitting an application packet. Individual faculty members or departments are encouraged to submit nominations as well. Graduate students who have received teaching awards will be invited to join.

Postdoctoral scholars may apply as an Academy Faculty Scholar (AFS) or as a member of the Academy. If you are a postdoctoral scholar, that is interested in enhancing their knowledge and understanding of teaching and learning, apply for the appropriate level of Academy membership.

Application packets for membership must include the following:

Required for Member
• Letter of application (maximum of two pages) that should address:
a. Reason for applying to the Academy
b. How membership fits professional goals
c. Importance of teaching in the 21st century and beyond
d. Illustration of commitment to inclusion and diversity in learning environments
e. Expected contributions to the Academy
• Curriculum vitae

Supplemental application materials to become an Associate includes:
• Letter of application (see above)
• Letter of nomination from a faculty member or department
• Teaching evaluations

Supplemental application materials for Fellow applicants:
• Letter of application (see above)
• Letter of nomination from a faculty or department
• Teaching ePortfolio (examples of teaching, evaluations, course syllabi, etc.)

The Academy selection committee will review all applications and select Members, Associates, and Fellows. The selection committee consists of Fellows, Academy Faculty Scholars, and Graduate School administrators. Academy Associates will have the opportunity to apply for advancement to Fellow. The Academy will accept applications for Member and Associate in the Fall and Fellow in the Spring semesters. Submit your application here by Saturday, January 30th.

Application Review

The Academy selection committee will select those who have made a commitment to teaching, pedagogical innovation, and inclusive learning environments. The committee will evaluate the following in the application packet:
• Letter of application that should address the reason for applying to the Academy; how the membership in the Academy fits in professional goals; the importance of teaching in the 21st century and beyond; illustration of commitment to inclusion and diversity and VT’s Principles of Community and how an applicant plans to foster that in a learning environment; and what the applicant can contribute to the Academy.
• Letters of nomination from faculty and other supporting documents will be reviewed.
• An interview for applicants for Fellow.

Membership Requirements & Expectations

All Members

Members are expected to continue to enhance their teaching skills through courses (e.g., GRAD 5114, GRAD 5214), workshops and Academy activities, attend Academy meetings, and assist with the GTA workshop and the GTA forum blog.


In addition, Fellows will serve as peer mentors for other GTAs and UTAs, especially Academy members, and Associates. Fellows will receive an additional stipend, provided by the Preston Society in recognition of their achievements, beyond the regular GTA stipend. The Fellows may have the opportunity to teach in the Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE), First Year Experience (FYE), winter semester, summer academy, summer sessions and more.