Part-Time Teaching Awards Honorees Display Full-Time Passion for Education and Students
Posted Nov 17, 2020
The seventh annual Otterbein University Part-time Faculty Awards were presented virtually on Nov. 6, 2020. Recipients of this year’s awards were Casey J. Tucker, Department of Biology and Earth Science, for the Teaching in General Education category and Wendy N. Johnston, Department of Chemistry, for the Teaching in Discipline category.
The Part-Time Faculty Awards are given out each year to honor and celebrate the contributions of part-time faculty to the campus community. There are 150 part-time faculty members at Otterbein this academic year.
“Without fail, each year it is clear that our nominees are incredibly dedicated, phenomenal teachers,” said Provost Wendy Sherman Heckler. “But whether they are a teaching award nominee or not, each of our part-time faculty makes very real and meaningful contributions to our academic programs and to our institution more broadly.”
“We were awestruck by the commitment of our part-time faculty this spring and summer for adapting to circumstances, revising courses and being real leaders,” added Associate Provost Kathryn Plank, before announcing Tucker as the winner of the General Education category.
Tucker, who joined the faculty in spring 2018, approaches teaching as a partnership between the learner and educator. This partnership requires investment by both parties, and involves time, patience, curiosity and creativity. His primary teaching responsibilities are in higher level Integrative Studies courses.
From birding trips around Westerville and weekend excursions to the National Aviary to classroom discussions about the science behind blockbuster hit movies like Jurassic Park, Tucker aims to make course material accessible and applicable to a student’s life. He views his role as an educator not as a gatekeeper, but rather as a door-opener to help students fulfill their own goals.
One of Tucker’s students commented on his teaching passion: “He cares so much about the subject matter he is teaching that he ensures that caring is contagious. He uses a variety of projects, excursions and in-depth study sessions to make sure that each student has their curiosity sparked in some way that could potentially evolve into a passion.”
Teaching in A Discipline category winner Johnston has taught at Otterbein for over two decades. She teaches classes in the Integrative Studies and Senior Year Experience programs but has focused primarily on teaching the laboratory components of introductory courses. She mentors both new part-time faculty brought on board to teach labs and full-time faculty who teach in the lab sequence only occasionally.
“In this unusual year, our winner worked over the summer in order to deliver a thoughtful, safe and well-constructed curriculum for Otterbein students,” said Associate Provost Chris Reynolds. “From creating videos, to designing an elaborate but effective ‘groups within a lab’ system, all groups are getting hands-on laboratory experience in a safe environment.”
The nomination letter said Johnston “has demonstrated strong content knowledge, innovative curricular design, personal relationships with students and faculty and relies on feedback for continuous improvement. (She) strives to meet students where they are and help them move forward.”
The letter also said Johnston “demonstrates an enduring, passionate commitment for the betterment of our students and the entire department.”
Congratulations to the 2020 Otterbein University Teaching Award winners.