"Learning is not a spectator sport. Students do not learn much by just sitting in class listening to teachers, memorizing prepackaged assignments, and spitting out answers. They must talk about what they are learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences, apply it to their daily lives. They must make what they learn a part of themselves."

Chickering, A and Gamson, Z. F. (March 1987) "Seven Principles for Good Practice." AAHE Bulletin 39: 3-7.

About Us

Students have a variety of styles and needs when it comes to learning. It may seem impossible to meet all of these demands. We in Faculty Development are teachers who are passionate about facilitating learning. Our goal is to help you convey your professional expertise to your students with clarity and effectiveness. Onsite or online, you can discover strategies to get your students more involved, find out what they’re actually learning, create clear guidelines, grade fairly and efficiently, and enable your students to perform better.

To support faculty and department leaders in fostering effective and informed teaching practices, developing high quality curriculum, and designing student learning assessment tools to uphold the Academy’s commitment to creativity and learning.

The seed of the Academy of Art’s Faculty Development department was planted in 2002 when Natasha Haugnes, then an academic coach, coordinated a half-day teaching conference for instructors to address the most commonly articulated concerns of Academy faculty: student behavior, special populations, critiquing, and how to engage and inspire students. The workshops were such a hit that they have continued every fall and spring semester.

In 2003, a few department directors requested help from the Resource Center (now ARC) in observing and giving guidance to their new faculty. That fall, a “Faculty Support” program led by Jennifer Russell was launched on a trial basis in a handful of departments, and it became a full department with a staff of four in the summer of 2004.

Since that time, Faculty Development has grown in size and scope and now serves 1300+ online and onsite faculty in all departments through a variety of services. Vanessa Spang now leads a team that collectively has expertise in:

  • technology in education
  • teaching English as a second language (ESL)
  • assessment
  • teacher education & supervision
  • cross-cultural classrooms
  • sustainability
  • plagiarism
  • student collaboration, and more

Collectively, our team has presented at national conferences year after year, including the POD Network in Higher Education, UW-Madison’s Distance Teaching & Learning, the WASC Annual Meeting, the Sloan-C International Conference on Online Learning, and TESOL (a national organization for English language educators), on a wide variety of topics, including original research.

Faculty Development

2801 Leavenworth Street

Suite 305

San Francisco, CA 94133

Hours: 8am-6pm, M-F

Phone: 415-618-3855

Here are a few of the projects we are currently working on:

Rubrics Census 2011

As part of our ongoing inquiry into how we use rubrics and how they affect student learning, 2 faculty developers have launched Rubrics Census 2011. This spring, they gathered many different rubrics in current use from around the Academy, and are currently analyzing them for structure and language. There will be follow-up research in the fall with both faculty and students to learn more about their perceptions and applications of rubrics. If you haven’t participated yet and would like to join in the study or share a rubric, contact us. For more information on rubrics, go here.

Meet Our Team


Vanessa Spang

Director, Faculty Development

Vanessa joined the Academy of Art University faculty in 1997, serving many years in the English for Art Purposes program. She has over 20 years of teaching experience in both university and high school settings as well as numerous years of teacher training experience. Vanessa graduated from St. Lawrence University with a BA in French, Spanish and German and has an MA from SFSU in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She has a keen interest in assessment and continual improvement and feels privileged to work with such a wonderful group of committed and talented colleagues.


Jennifer Russell

Senior Lead Faculty Developer

Jennifer Russell has worked at the Academy since 2001 and was the founding director of Faculty Development. Prior to joining the Academy, she taught, trained teachers, and wrote curriculum at Project FIRST (UC Berkeley), Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Mills College, San Jose State, and Concordia Language Villages. She holds a Bachelor’s from UC Berkeley and a Master’s in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Her research interests include visual thinking, rubrics and assessment, and Slow Teaching, which examines the balance between technology, content, mindfulness, and attention.


Natasha Haugnes

Faculty Developer/ Lead for ADV, FND

Natasha first trained teachers for the Peace Corps in West Africa, after her own stint as an English teacher in eastern Morocco. She holds an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language and Composition from San Francisco State University, and has authored two ESL textbooks. Natasha has worked at the Academy since 1995 as an ESL instructor and as the founding director of the ARC before becoming a Faculty Developer. She currently serves on the board of directors for the POD Network in Higher Education. When she is not talking about rubrics, she loves playing music and tap dancing.


Molly Flanagan

Faculty Developer

Molly Flanagan has been part of the Faculty Development team since 2008. She enjoys supporting instructors as they expand their skills and often draws on her own training and experience – an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, a decade teaching English in various corners of the globe, and a few semesters teaching both onsite and online students at the Academy. In her free time, Molly delights in dance, interspecies relationships, international travel, and foreign languages (Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese).


Tony Albert

Faculty Developer

Tony worked as a program coordinator for nine years, where he was responsible for the hiring, training, supervising, and professional development of the teaching staff. He also taught ESL at Academy of Art, Jewish Vocational Services, and the American Language Institute for 15 years. He holds BA in Art (painting) and an MA in Teaching English as a Second Language from San Francisco State University.


James Wu

Faculty Developer

James is truly happy that as a faculty developer at the Academy, he can enjoy his passion for teaching, training, and curriculum design. He has a BA in Life Sciences from UC Davis and an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from the School for International Training. Before joining Academy of Art University, James lived in South Korea for two years where he designed several curricula, using them for teaching and training to help Korean English teachers improve their English and teaching skills. He has also taught English in the Bay Area, Costa Rica, Switzerland, and Japan.


Sarah Sherwood

Faculty Developer

Sarah Sherwood comes from a background and passion for teaching and theater. After earning a BA in Theater, she went on to complete a MATESOL and Single Subject Teaching Credential in English, all from San Francisco State University. Before becoming a Faculty Developer, she worked for the Academy as both a Graduate Academic Advisor and an ESL Support Teacher. Her work in the classroom and as an advocate for Graduate students gives her a unique insight into how she can help collaborate with teachers to best serve the students and themselves. She is excited to work with you! 


Margaret Wylie

Administrative Assistant / Materials Publisher

Margaret graduated from Academy of Art in 1997 with a degree in fine art sculpture. She went on to work as a graphic designer for companies such as Critical Path, O'Reilly Media, Inc. and the Pillsbury law firm. She loves being back at her alma mater, working with such a brilliant, dedicated team of educators.