The Professional Program in Education at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has been selected to receive the UW System’s top honor for outstanding teaching.

At the June 10 Board of Regents meeting in Milwaukee, faculty members in the teacher-preparation program will receive the 2011 Regents Teaching Excellence Award in the category of outstanding academic department. Regent teaching awards will also go to two individuals: Human Development Prof. Regan Gurung of UW-Green Bay and Education Prof. Craig Berg of UW-Milwaukee.

The Professional Program in Education has long been one of UW-Green Bay’s most heavily enrolled programs. More than 500 students are either majors, pre-majors or candidates for teaching certification in elementary education, or are pursuing disciplinary majors and certification in secondary education.

Associate Prof. Timothy Kaufman serves as chairperson. Other full-time faculty members are associate professors Scott Ashmann, James Coates Jr., Mark Kiehn, Pao Lor, Patricia Ragan and Linda Tabers-Kwak; assistant professors  Susan Cooper, Steven Kimball and Karen Lieuallen; and senior lecturers Karen Bircher and Art Lacey.

The UW System announcement of the program’s selection cited several factors:

  • Sponsorship of UW-Green Bay’s award-winning Phuture Phoenix program, which pairs children as young as fifth grade with University student mentors and promotes the idea that college is possible;
  • A variety of community outreach initiatives, highlighted by in-school research and work with practicing teachers at the graduate level, especially those teaching “at risk” and disadvantaged children;
  • The unit’s emphasis on providing future teachers with diverse experiences including work with various ethnic, cultural, and economic groups and children with exceptional educational needs. In recent years, Education has sought to place its students in classroom settings as early as possible, even as first- and second-year students, to aid and observe practicing teachers and maximize their exposure to the profession.

In addition, the University has won praise for the success of its Center for First Nation Studies, a resource to help current and future educators do a more comprehensive job of teaching youth about the history, culture, sovereignty and contemporary issues of American Indians. The center was founded in 2009 to provide leadership after the state of Wisconsin mandated increased attention to K-12 instruction in this area. Co-directed by Kaufman of  Education and Prof. Lisa Poupart of the University’s First Nations Studies program, the center is notable in that it invites local tribal elders to assist in teacher education and the preparation of K-12 teachers and University faculty to better address native issues.

Also mentioned in announcement of the UW System award was the relatively high placement rate for Education graduates seeking their first teaching positions. Nearly 50 percent of student teachers last spring had secured full-time contracts by fall.

The Education program and its campus/community partnership arm, the Institute for Learning, have strengthened ties to the region’s K-12 educators over the last decade through an annual professional development conference, a continuing education certificate program for working teachers, and the launch and growth of a successful graduate program,  the Master’s of Science in Applied Leadership for Teaching and Learning.

This is the 19th consecutive year for the Regents Teaching Excellence Awards. Recipients are selected by a board subcommittee, which this year consisted of Regents  Betty Womack (chair), Jeffrey Bartell, John Drew and Ed Manydeeds. Selection criteria include strong commitment to teaching and learning; use of effective teaching strategies to enhance student learning; and significant impact on students’ intellectual development.

The UW-Green Bay Education unit will share a $5,000 stipend to be used for professional development.

–University Communications