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UIndy announces Teacher of the Year nominees and winner

The University of Indianapolis is delighted to recognize Dr. Angelia J. Ridgway as its 2020 Teacher of the Year. Dr. Ridgway is a Professor of Secondary Education and the Coordinator of the MAT program in the School of Education.

“At UIndy, I teach with the most dedicated and caring team of teachers I call my colleagues and friends,” Ridgway said. “To be recognized as the Teacher of the Year from this amazing group of individuals means the world to me. Teaching is my mission. I hope it can be one of the ways I change the world, especially for my students’ future students.”

Excellence in teaching occurs through the intentional weaving together of a number of key elements that include relationship development, content engagement, and authenticity.  Each of these elements is crucial in enabling students to succeed in the classroom and beyond. For Dr. Ridgway, relationship development may be the most important of all. “It all begins and ends with the human element,” she said. “The old adage in teaching is that “students don’t care about learning until they know you care” remains as true from my first year of middle and high school teaching until today.”

This relationship building plays out in many ways inside the classroom. “From knowing students as individuals who have unique cultural and experiential backgrounds, to finding multiple means in which to engage them in learning,” Ridgway said. “Every learner to your course or clinical field experience with not only their own unique backgrounds but with preferential ways of growing. The best teachers are never finished — they are consummate learners themselves who seek new ways to connect with a variety of students.”

Dr. Ridgway recognizes the zeal that UIndy students have for becoming great secondary teachers, and it is her mission to provide these students a platform from which to be successful. The strength of the relationships that she develops is evident in the student evaluations of her teaching where she consistently, across multiple courses and multiple years, is recognized as being an ‘outstanding’ teacher. However, these relationships do not fade once a student graduates from UIndy. Rather, many graduates connect with Dr. Ridgway on a frequent basis as she serves as a mentor to them in the field, answering questions and fostering their continued growth as they now foster the growth of their own students.

“This is important to me because they are fulfilling the mission of changing secondary students’ lives through the innovative practices they learn while at UIndy. They truly do embody the UIndy mission of ‘Education for Service,’” she said. “Their success is my success. I have enjoyed the privilege of being mentored by many inspirational teachers – I do hope I can do the same for them. And, I always want them to know once you are my student, you are my student forever!”

Dr. Ridgway has had educational role models to look up to in her parents, and even her children, and recognizes how they have helped shape her into a better teacher along the way. “My father, a lifelong educator, still has a tremendous curiosity around school practices and policy. My mother is a ‘techie.” She’s always trying new technology. They have been great role models for me in terms of the high value of lifelong learning,” she said. “My own sons continue that legacy of innovation and curiosity – one is the co-author of a book we published last year and the other is the most curious person I know, always seeking answers to all things in life, both big and small.”

There were many deserving nominees for Teacher of the Year this year, please see those nominees below and help recognize their positive contributions to the University and its students:

side of nose shadows, shines, little under the eyes, chin, root colorLori Bolyard, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry
Dr. Lori Bolyard’s passion for teaching is driven by her joy for teaching and the challenge of the job.  She makes her chemistry content understandable for all students.  As one Teacher of the Year Committee member noted, although the course was about chemistry, it was clear that Dr. Bolyard aimed to teach other skills such as critical thinking through her classroom methods. In this way, her lessons seemed to transcend the specific content and provide background for the students to excel in whatever their major may be.

Leah Courtland, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Physics & Earth Space Science
Dr. Leah Courtland firmly believes in linking earth science concepts to communities and people in order to make the content relevant.  She takes her content beyond the walls of the classroom by providing field experiences for her students so they can see the things they are learning about. Her innovative use of standards-based grading allows encourages students to apply and master the concepts she teaches.

Kevin Gribbins, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Biology
Dr. Kevin Gribbins sees himself as a motivator as much as an educator. An observer to his class noted that it was clear that Dr. Gribbins has a passion for what he is teaching and enthusiastically delivers his lectures where he shares experiences and personal stories which further provided excitement throughout the class.

Katie Polo, DHS

Associate Professor, School of Occupational Therapy
Dr. Katie Polo exemplifies education for service with the opportunities that she provides to occupational therapy students to provide care for those recovering from cancer. A member of the Teacher of the Year committee who observed class remarked that Dr. Polo interacts with her students as future colleagues and embodies the element of the team of her and the students working together to further students’ education. 

Laura Santurri, DHSc (doctor of health sciences program)Laura Santurri, PhD

Assistant Professor, College of Health Sciences
Dr. Laura Santurri is extremely knowledgeable about the content she teaches and uses countless real-life examples to show students the application of what they are learning in the classroom to their own careers. Her teaching is aimed not just at meeting requirements but preparing her students for their futures. One observer noted that it was evident that she had personal relationships with the students which went beyond the classroom making her very approachable.

Smith, RachelRachel Smith, PhD

Associate Professor, School of Business
Dr. Rachel Smith is very knowledgeable about her content and uses countless real-life examples to show students how they will be able to apply this knowledge later in their own careers. She exhibits superior verbal, nonverbal and visual communication skills and encourages students to demonstrate their own communication skills as they present about current topics in her class.  The questions she asks in class are designed to require students to think deeply about what they are learning.

Jordan Sparks Waldron, PhD

Assistant Professor, School of Psychological Sciences
Dr. Jordan Waldron is very passionate about what students take away from her class, and it is clear that the focus of her teaching is to help students understand the why of what happens in the world. In addition, Dr. Waldron focuses on how what is being taught can be applied to the future careers of her students.

Liz Whiteacre, MFA

Assistant Professor, Department of English
Professor Liz Whiteacre’s classroom is clearly student driven, and she encourages the students to take charge of their learning. A member of the Teacher of the Year Committee noted that Professor Whiteacre has an incredibly positive attitude during the class session and stated “It is clear that she loves what she does and is committed not only to teaching the students, but fostering interpersonal relationships with the students.”