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History Professor Earns Distinguished Teaching Award for Commitment to Her Students

“I think that Dr. Heaphy lives at Kent State Stark because she is always there to help students at any time.” Robert Simms, a history major, wrote in a nomination letter.

Another student wrote, “She [Dr. Leslie Heaphy] strikes the perfect balance between professionalism and friendliness; she is approachable, has a clear genuine interest in her students and assists students in setting and reaching goals.”

Nominations like this, led to Dr. Leslie Heaphy, associate professor of history at Kent State-Stark, earning one of the three 2013 Distinguished Teaching Awards. Each year, the Kent State Alumni Association honors three full-time faculty members who display outstanding teaching qualities with a Distinguished Teaching Award.

Heaphy said she feels honored to receive the award. “It’s an incredible honor. I feel humbled by the recognition and the fact that students and colleagues view what I do every day as something worthy of such an honor.”

Heaphy believes in not only lecturing to students but making learning more of a conversation.

“I believe in teaching in a way that is comfortable to me and represents who I am as a person, meaning that the constantly growing and changing idea of teaching is based on what I learn and the feedback I get from students,” Heaphy says. “My overarching goal is to get students excited about learning and interacting with me and the material.”

Heaphy and her students during the surprise visit from the alumni association. Watch a video of the visit here.
Beth Conway, alumni and former student of Heaphy, enjoyed how Heaphy made students truly think about what they are learning. “Dr. Heaphy’s classes are interactive, and I love that she will ask the ‘why’ questions and encourage group discussion about the underlying reasoning behind things,” Conway wrote in a nomination letter.

“I would challenge anyone to sit in on one of her classes and fail to leave without being enthralled by stories and eager to do some individual investigation.”

Along with teaching, Heaphy serves as the program coordinator for the Honors Program at Kent State-Stark where she is responsible for arranging the honors classes and faculty, advising the students each semester, working with students to plan activities and overseeing the honors program student council, among other things.

Despite winning the award and all she does, Heaphy still believes that her best work is done with the students.

“My greatest accomplishments are measured in the successes of my students, big and small. From the students who have gone on for Master’s and Ph.D.’s to the students who have struggled long and hard but do graduate to the students who finally get that A after working so hard for it, I’m proud of all of them.”

For more information about the DTA, please click here.

By: Wezley Garlick

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