State Fair Community College Communication Instructor Kaila Todd was awarded the Dr. Bob Derryberry Award by Pi Kappa Delta, a national speech and debate honor society, during the National Communication Association conference that was held Nov. 19 in New Orleans.

Todd is SFCC’s Speech and Debate Team coach and led the team during its inaugural season to capture several national titles at the Phi Rho Pi national tournament in spring 2022.

“It feels very much unreal that I was chosen for this award as I’m not sure my head has been ‘above the water’ since the SFCC Speech and Debate team officially launched last November (2021),” Todd said. “It is extremely humbling to see all of the work it took to launch our new program recognized on a national stage by some of the forensic educators that I admire most.”

Todd was nominated based on her service to the forensics (speech and debate) community, her advocacy for students at SFCC and within the forensics community, and her leadership in creating SFCC’s new speech and debate team, which has established a community presence and competitive success in a short time.

“SFCC is so proud of Kaila and where she has taken our speech and debate team in a very short period of time,” said James Cunningham, SFCC’s Academic Affairs dean. “Her effort and dedication to the school and her students is second to none.”

The award “recognizes excellence among intercollegiate forensics educators who have been teaching for five or fewer years” according to the Pi Kappa Delta (PKD) website. Derryberry, the award’s namesake, coached at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri, for 46 years until his death in 2010. Derryberry was a renowned forensics educator and advocate for his students, whom he called “bright young scholars.” Many of Derryberry’s former students became educators who went on to start or coach at forensics programs nationwide.

Todd, who competed on the Southwest Baptist University speech and debate team as a student from 2011 to 2013, said receiving the award had a special meaning.

“I understand the magnitude of receiving an award named after Dr. Derryberry,” she said. “It is a distinct honor to win the Bob Derryberry award, and it is an even greater privilege to carry pieces of the Derryberry legacy in my own personal coaching philosophy and practice.”

Todd serves as the community college representative on PKD’s National Council and Lt. Governor of the Heartland Region chapter of PKD. She is on the board of the Speech and Theatre Association of Missouri (STAM), where she chairs the nominations for office committee, in addition to serving on grant and advocacy committees. She also serves on the public speaking committee of Phi Rho Pi, the National Community College Forensic Association and Honor Society.

Learn more about the SFCC team at www.sfccmo.edu/forensics.

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