Core FYS Faculty

Core faculty in First Year Seminar have primary appointments teaching First Year Seminar in Appalachian's University College.  All full-time Lecturers are teaching leaders who contribute substantially to the teaching, mentoring, and service activities of the unit. These award-winning faculty members are innovative in their teaching methods and deeply committed to Appalachian's first-year students.

Avery-Quinn, SamSam Avery-Quinn

Samuel Avery-Quinn holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Tennessee, and a Masters of Arts degree from the Iliff School of Theology, a United Methodist seminary at the University of Denver.  His research interests focus on the intersection of landscape, material culture, and religion (particularly Evangelical Christianity and Islam).  His most recent publications have explored class and landscape in the American Holiness movement, race and religion in post-Civil War Southern Appalachia, and the landscape theology and urban design of religious resorts in the Northeastern United States.  He is currently working on a study of the historical ecology of the New Jersey Pine Barrens.

Cummings, RebekahRebekah Cummings

Dr. Rebekah Cummings is most at home in nature and especially loves listening to babbling brooks and river rapids. As an educator, Rebekah mentors and guides students as they engage with the learning process. She supports students in not only demonstrating what they have learned but also in articulating what they think about what they’ve learned. In addition to First Year Seminars on Autism and on the Image of the Child, Rebekah has taught courses in child development, family stress and resiliency, and early childhood education at both ASU and Virginia Tech. Rebekah is a support parent for Parent to Parent Family Support Network – High Country and facilitates High Country Families on the Spectrum. In both capacities, she provides information and support to parents of children on the Autism Spectrum and in the broaderautism phenotype (i.e., Sensory Processing Disorder, ADD/ADHD). Rebekah also serves on the Innovative Approaches steering committee which focuses on making positive, long-lasting change for children, youth, and families with special healthcare needs. She presents locally and regionally with a focus on understanding and respecting sensory-processing differences and supporting transitions for those on the Spectrum. She is a Certified Family Life Educator and holds a Ph.D. in Human Development.

Rebekah served as director of Lucy Brock Child Development Lab Program here at ASU and was a preschool teacher at Berea College and Virginia Tech.  Her grounding in the Reggio Emilia Approach, her time as an Extension Agent for 4-H/Youth Development, parenting her own son, and serving as an academic coach leads her to believe that every child - indeed every person - is capable, competent, and inquisitive. Through these experiences, Rebekah has learned that interests, skills, and needs are individual; therefore to truly reach someone, you must learn to "speak" their language - a language unique to that person.

Das, AninditaAnindita Das

Anindita Das received her Ph.D. in Oceanography and her Masters in Environmental Studies from Louisiana State University. She has won several awards for her research at various international and national conferences as well as for being an outstanding graduate student among her peers at both the Masters and Ph.D. level.

She is someone who places tremendous importance on the health and sustainability of the environment, believing that it is both our social responsibility and in our interest to take care of the environment if we want the environment to take care of us. She also believes that human beings are not the sole owners of the earth and have to think of our fellow creatures when we make decisions affecting the environment. Her other interests are walking, hiking, cooking, reading, music, and animal rights.

She uses different types of teaching techniques (lecture, reading, individual assignments, and group assignments in the form of case studies and term papers) to give freshmen and sophomore students an idea of what they can expect in the other classes they plan to take throughout their time in college.

Nave, LillianLillian Nave

Lillian Nave encourages her students to change the world for the better as soon as they set foot on campus. Her Art, Religion & Society First Year Seminar engages the students with the Boone community and the world at large through the visual arts. From gallery shows to student-made documentary films, and from Boone to New York City and Kabul, Afghanistan, students learn what a valuable tool art can be to communicate ideas, culture and emotion.

Lillian has been teaching at Appalachian State since 2007 and has taught in the First Year Seminar program since 2009 where she is currently a senior lecturer. She founded the ArtHaus Residential Learning Community and was awarded RLC Partner of the Year in 2012 for her work with the ArtHaus students. Before coming to Appalachian, she taught at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts and the State University of New York in Oneonta, NY. She also enjoys giving public lectures about art from around the world and has lectured at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. She is a member of the International Arts Movement and has recently given talks about innovative teaching strategies and civic engagement in Athens, Greece, South Africa and Australia.

She asserts, "I want to cultivate creativity in my courses and that includes challenging my students to take risks, embrace failure and learn from their mistakes, all in an environment of growth." Each class is a new journey in which Lillian and her students learn and create knowledge together, where Lillian acts more like a curator of information rather than an instructor. In her class, the students lead, and the class itself becomes and instrument of learning, change, development and growth for the student.

Margrif, TrentTrent Margrif

A university environment offers an opportunity for students to broaden their learning and shape their understanding of the world, and Trent Margrif wants them to do that every single day. "There are so many resources available and yet far too many students need to be motivated by someone to utilize them." Trent is often that someone, and after the initial complaints students gain a deep appreciation that a professor made them aware of their new surroundings.

Trent is a senior lecturer in First Year Seminar and has taught a First Year Seminar since 2010, Historic Green Buildings and War of the Worlds. He previously taught courses on Architectural History, Cultural Landscapes and Historic Preservation at the graduate level for the Department of History. His personable approach has earned high praise from students, and he was awarded the Rennie W. Brantz Award for Outstanding Teaching in the First Year Seminar for 2013. His courses begin with a discussion of current events and include relating popular culture to academic majors and disciplines to understand difficult topics.

Trent continues to receive contract work for local history projects and research, including the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Blowing Rock Historical Society. He currently serves on the Cultural Resources Advisory Board for the Town of Boone, and was previously a Cultural Resource & Outreach Specialist for ASU. He earned a Masters Degree in Historic Preservation from Eastern Michigan University and is from the ethnically diverse Upper Peninsula of Michigan. When not avoiding abductions by extra terrestrials, he enjoys hiking and spending time with his wife, who teaches Public History, and 3 year old daughter.

Don PresnellDon Presnell

Dr. Don Presnell holds MA degrees in English and Spanish from Appalachian State University. His doctoral dissertation—written in fulfillment of the Ed.D. degree in Educational Leadership in Appalachian State’s Reich College of Education—is titled “ ‘Visitor to all, native to none’: How Digital-native teacher education students use bricolage and multiple modalities to construct knowledge” (2012). For two years, he taught elementary Spanish (K-8) for two schools in the Watauga County school system. He is the co-author of A Critical History of Television’s The Twilight Zone, 1959-1964 (McFarland, 1998) and has taught multiple sections of college English, Spanish, and humanities courses, including Basic English; Expository Writing; Introduction to Literature; Literature-Based Research; Writing Through Rhetoric; Writing Through Perception; British Literature; American Literature; World Literature; Introduction to Film; Elementary Spanish; Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age; The Narrative Art of Comics (First Year Seminar); The Twilight Zone (First Year Seminar); and Doctor Who: TARDIS Travels in General Education (First Year Seminar). He has been nominated for both the Brantz Award for Outstanding Teaching in First Year Seminar (2012) and the Harvey R. Durham Outstanding Freshman Advocate Award (2014, 2017, 2018) at Appalachian State University. He is also currently the Director of the Common Reading Program at Appalachian. His interests include multimodality; literature; comics and graphic novels; film and television studies; English and Spanish; pedagogy and instructional design; educational leadership; and baseball.

Schoenhals, MartyMarty Schoenhals

Martin Schoenhals is a cultural anthropologist who has conducted fieldwork for more than three decades in China, and for nearly two decades in India. Among his interests are the way that culture and emotions interact. As a psychological anthropologist, Schoenhals has studied the role of face and shame in China, and how these emotions interact with political and historical processes. Another research interest is facial expressions and the key question of whether humans can read each other's emotions across the divisions of culture. Schoenhals has taught at such universities as Columbia University, Swarthmore College, and the University of Pennsylvania. He has recently moved from New York City and has made his new home in the mountains of Boone.

Smith, ChuckChuck Smith

Chuck Smith has been teaching at Appalachian for 16 years and is currently a senior lecturer in First Year Seminar. His academic interests are varied and include history, philosophy, and socio-politics of: the American environmental movement, perceptions of nature and wilderness, alternative and renewable energy, land preservation and conservation, and sustainable development. Mr. Smith is a carpenter by trade and works his small farm and homestead nearby in Ashe County. 

Contact FYS

The First Year Seminar is part of the General Education Program located in Anne Belk Hall, Room 250.

Phone: 828-262-2028

Our mailing address:
First Year Seminar
ASU Box 32065
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608

Director of First Year Seminar:
Rick Klima

QEP Global Learning