At this year’s Health Sciences Spring Convocation, Dr. Shahrokh Esfandiari will be awarded the Dr. Howard S. Katz Award for Excellence in Teaching. Handed by the Principal, the award recognizes amongst other things involvement with course development or improvement, ability to act as a role model for personal and professional development of students, and ability to engage and motivate students. Dr. Esfandiari highlights the importance of the award within the Faculty: “Because it acknowledges excellence in teaching, I’m personally honoured to receive it. It validates my efforts and provides positive reinforcement that hard work pays off!” “As educators, though, we don’t do things to get awards,” he continues. “I challenge myself to motivate students on their learning path, to instigate interest within them.” Always on the lookout for innovation in teaching methods and technology, Dr. Esfandiari believes students should be engaged in their learning: “When you’re in front of a group, you’re not just a part of the screen, you have to know your group and tailor your teaching.” This year, Dr. Esfandiari has curated four different courses: DENT 437 Clinical Decision Making 2 for fourth year DMD students, DENT655 Health Technology Assessment and DENT 670 Dental Research Project for graduate students, as well as the Social Equity and Diversity module in second year DMD Dental Apprenticeship. True to his principles, he used different approaches for each course in order to create an environment where the content is well-received by the students and relevant to them. While different in style, these methods all have one thing in common: they emphasize a holistic approach to dental education and prioritize skills over marks. This competency-based evaluation methodology will yield competent dental professionals. As the Faculty’s Associate Dean (Academic), Dr. Esfandiari has encouraged his colleagues to embrace a competency-based approach. “This creates a less stressful environment for our trainees, and will help them become better clinicians. We have to keep in mind the individuals we’re looking to form,” he sums up.