COMMENCEMENT: Distinguished Educators Named at SUUMay 05, 2004
Author: Renee Ballenger
Every year a committee of faculty at Southern Utah University deliberate and choose some of their colleagues to receive the honor of being named Distinguished Educators. Their selections are based on several criteria, including student evaluations, scholarly work and teaching effectiveness. The endorsement is echoed and supported by administration as well. The three Distinguished Educators at SUU for the 2003-04 year are: Jean Adams, Associate Professor of Applied Science; Merlene Ellington, Clinical Instructor of Early Childhood Education; and Brian Heuett, Assistant Professor of Communication.
Jean Adams has been delivering a nurturing and personalized learning environment to students at SUU for some 26 years and continues to do so right up to her retirement this year. Jean is an expert in Information Systems Applications and has taught a remarkable 18 different courses over her tenure at the Institution. Students have consistently ranked her as one of the best teachers on campus with evaluations in the high 90th percentile for both her overall teaching effectiveness and in practical application. “Supportive, very caring and gracious, but not at the expense of academic rigor and challenging her students,” is the way one student described Adams. Her colleagues credit her as being one of the strongest student advocates on campus. She has supervised student teachers in business education and advised the Professional Business Leaders organization. She is active in five professional organizations, has been named the Distinguished Teacher at the Post Secondary Level by the Utah Business and Computer Education Association and has been a nominee for the Thunderbird Professor of the Year Award on at least five different occasions. She has an enviable record of service on several important campus committees, but her legacy will be as a caring teacher at a level of dedication that has benefited the University overall, and especially, touched and prepared her students.
Merlene Ellington is an excellent clinical instructor of Early Childhood Education in the Elementary Education Department of the College of Education. Merlene has been at the University for 11 years and involved in educating young people of all ages the entire time. She is very creative and makes learning fun for her students. She adds enough rigor to the courses to keep the content challenging for all of the students. One of her current students summarized on her gifts a teacher with this statement: “Merlene is an awesome teacher! I aspire to be like her as a teacher.” Students appreciate the fact that Merlene is always organized and prepared. She has a true enthusiasm for learning and teaching, which is reflected in her students. Merlene relates the information in a way that makes sense and demonstrates how to apply the learned information in future endeavors. One common statement submitted in all of Merlene’s evaluations by students is: “Merlene is a very effective teacher. She makes everyone feel good and excited to learn.” Merlene is one of the reasons students stay at SUU and finish their degrees. She has been an instructor in the SUU’s Family and Consumer Sciences program and an assistant manager in the federally-funded Head Start Teaching Center. She is a current member of both the Utah and national associations for the Education of Young Children. She has presented at four conferences in the past year, serves on numerous campus committees and in community service organizations.
Brian Heuett: A few years ago, a student requested, with emotion, that Professor Heuett be the one to hand her her diploma. Because she respected him so much and credited him with the inspiration to do well in all of her classes, it seemed to her the only fitting scenario. Since he came to SUU in 1998, student evaluation scores on Brian, especially in the category of Teaching Effectiveness, are consistently above 90 percent. Students and colleagues agree, one of his strengths as a teacher is his ability and desire to inspire students to love learning. All about campus, too, Brian is one of those reliable, passionate individuals who gives as much as he is able. His leadership in program development in various pockets of the Institution is innumerable and invaluable. He has served as faculty senate president, as a Sterling Scholar judge, and on committees dealing with important issues like academic affairs, the University Mission Statement, and recruitment. An expert in public speaking, interpersonal communication and nonverbal communication, Brian is currently conducting cutting-edge research on “curing” Communication Apprehension, a.k.a. the fear of speaking in public.