Johns Hopkins Gazette | May 18, 2009
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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University May 18, 2009 | Vol. 38 No. 35
 
Honor Roles for Top Faculty

Alumni Association salutes those who excel in the art of instruction

Contributing Writers
Special to The Gazette
Photos by Will Kirk / HIPS

Gigi the Clone helps teach pathophysiology to future nurses. YouTube videos pop up in a public health course. Students in another class hear songs with biostatistics lyrics. And biomedical engineering students compare their professor's instructional talks (about the history, mechanisms and applications of ion channels, no less) to a summer blockbuster film.

But not all teaching techniques that earned students' praises — and garnered 2009 Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Awards for their purveyors — were of the newfangled variety.

Many of the winning ways were decidedly more traditional: a commitment to mentoring, access to professors and material, the ability to convey tough subject matter, a class atmosphere conducive to asking questions.

Since 1992, the Johns Hopkins Alumni Association has annually recognized university faculty who excel in the art of instruction with its Excellence in Teaching Award. The award allows each academic division of the university to publicly recognize the critical importance of teaching. The nomination and selection processes differ by school, but students must be involved in the selection.

The $2,000 provided to each school by the Alumni Association can be given to one winner, shared by up to four or attached to another, divisional teaching award.

On these pages, the university salutes the faculty members who are recipients of the 2009 Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Awards.

 

Bloomberg School of Public Health

>> Marie Diener-West, Biostatistics, large class

Bloomberg School of Public Health: Homayoon Farzadegan, Amy Tsui, Marie Diener-West and Ann-Michele Gundlach

Upon receiving her sixth Golden Apple Award, Marie Diener-West suggests a statistical principle to partially account for her multiple honors.

"I think that there is a correlation with the length of time I've been teaching as well as the size of the class," says Diener-West, the Helen Abbey-Margaret Merrell Professor of Biostatistics Education and chair of the Bloomberg School's Master of Public Health program.

Although it's her sixth time around — this year, for the course Statistical Methods in Public Health — Diener-West says that the recognition is still a "thrill."

"It really is a vote of confidence from the students, which I greatly appreciate," she says.

Since Diener-West became MPH chair last year, she has had to cut back on research projects but has maintained her teaching responsibilities.

"Teaching a large class while being chair of the MPH program helps me to have a better idea of what's going on with the student body," she says. "I would dreadfully miss teaching and seeing the students."

Diener-West began teaching introductory biostatistics courses in 1990. Since then, the course material has evolved to reflect changes in the field, and she says that students enter the class with a greater level of sophistication with the subject matter.

Still, Diener-West says she's aware that the topic of biostatistics strikes fear in the heart of many a public health student.

"A common sentiment [among students] is that math is the subject they hated the most, or they have an innate fear of math because of a bad experience with a class or they don't yet see the utility of the skills," she says. "This course is not a math course per se; rather it uses math to develop statistical skills both in critical review of the public health and scientific literature, as well as data analysis."

This year, Diener-West and her co-instructor, Biostatistics chair Karen Bandeen-Roche — with support from a team of teaching assistants and lab instructors — taught Statistical Methods in Public Health to approximately 500 students split into two lecture sections. For labs, students met in smaller groups of 35 to 50.

"The goal is that students feel comfortable in the classroom, and that they know it is an open environment in which questions can be asked and concerns expressed," Diener-West says. In her years of teaching the course, she says, she has noticed that it seems to inspire some students to undertake surprising feats of creativity.

"What has been really remarkable to me is that many students taking statistics find that they use the other side of their brain to connect with it," she says. "We've had a number of what we call 'biostatistics art contributions.'"

During the 90-minute class lectures — "far too long to keep going in one stretch" — she typically takes a short break to share artistic projects that students have sent in — "stat-istics poetry, art, a one-act play, songs with statistics lyrics," she says. "It shows you that statistics is not as dry as people think. It's not just a science, it's also an art, and spurs some other artistic tendencies."
— Jackie Powder Frank

 
>> Homayoon Farzadegan, Epidemiology, Internet class

Connecting with students isn't easy — especially online — but for four-time Golden Apple recipient Homayoon Farzadegan, his ability to connect using technology is the key to his students' success.

"I try to go beyond the standard prerecorded lectures and encourage the sense of an online learning community," Farzadegan says.

Farzadegan, a professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of Epidemiology, is this year's winner for an Internet-based course. Epidemiology and Public Health Impact of HIV/AIDS is a mix of lectures, live talks by experts on related topics and group presentations developed by students.

Farzadegan promotes an online open-door policy to foster communication with students.

"I encourage my students to talk to me and to each other — it's the best way to learn," Farzadegan says. "All e-mails and questions submitted by students are answered typically within 48 hours; this ensures my students don't fall behind if they are confused by a subject or topic. If you are available to students, they feel it and are more encouraged to learn."

Farzadegan is happy to tell anyone that teaching is his passion, and he works to ensure that his students learn in a relaxed and stress-free environment. Whether online or in class, he admits that he, too, is a student and learns a great deal from his students and teaching assistants. He credits them with pushing him to present the most relevant and up-to-date materials in interesting ways.

"Dr. Farzadegan is one of the most dedicated professors I know. When it comes to his students, he spends a lot of time thinking about how to present material in a way that will be effective and engaging — this is particularly true of his online courses," says Meghan Davis, a Bloomberg School doctoral candidate.

Looking to the future, Farzadegan says he believes that online courses will become a major component in education, as the classes give students the flexibility to view lectures at their own pace and from various locations. In the past, he has had students from up to 10 different countries participating in a course. With this in mind, he now offers all three of his courses online and on campus. Over time, he says, he has seen the online courses gain popularity and open doors to students with lifestyles that prohibit them from traveling to class several times a week.

Farzadegan credits the success of Epidemiology and Public Health Impact of HIV/AIDS to the many "bright young minds that walk the halls of the Bloomberg School and my colleagues, who through state-of-the art lectures, share their expertise and experience with my students."
— Natalie Wood-Wright

 
>> Ann-Michele Gundlach, Health Policy and Management, small class

The timing couldn't have been better for Ann-Michele Gundlach's third-term course, Foundations of Leadership.

The first class met one week after the Jan. 20 inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States, an event that provided the raw material for class discussions about a new style of leadership in Washington, D.C.

"Here we had this public model of an individual who was being held up as a model of leadership, and it was very useful to have certain events that we could use as touchstones for discussion throughout the term," says Gundlach, who won a 2009 Golden Apple in the small-sized class category for that course.

An adjunct assistant professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health's Department of Health Policy and Management, Gundlach learned of the award from a student who came to give her the news in her office. "I was blown away," she says. "I had not a clue, so it was very special."

Gundlach says that in the Foundations of Leadership course she aims to give students a framework for understanding the process of working with and leading others in the public and private health sectors.

"It really is a course on how leaders think and behave," she says, "and it's designed to get people thinking about what's required when you take on the mantle of leadership and all of the attendant complexities and responsibilities."

For the three main class assignments, students write a "personal best" leadership case study from their own experience, interview someone in a formal leadership role on a specific aspect of leadership that interests them and develop their own leadership model, in philosophy and practice.

"One primary goal of the course is to give students the opportunity for some personal exploration rather than to study leadership as an academic," she says.

With health care reform at the top of President Obama's agenda, some recent class discussions touched on how leaders in that field must be ready to adapt to the coming changes.

"What's going to happen in this country will be daunting, and the old rules of engagement won't necessarily apply," Gundlach says. "Organizations are much more networked than ever now, much more horizontal. There are lots of people in different roles that you have to motivate and move in the same direction, without always having traditional formal authority.

"Outside of clinical research, health care is not known for its experimentation, but we're going there," she says. "And, of course, younger folks are much less wedded to traditional models."

Gundlach has a 25-year background in consulting for health care services organizations, in both the public and private sectors. In 1982, she began teaching a class at Johns Hopkins in organizational development, and in 2000 she joined the Bloomberg School's Department of Health Policy and Management, where she serves as the associate director of the Master of Health Administration program and co-director of the MPH concentration in health leadership and management.

According to Gundlach, the transition from consulting to teaching was a natural one.

"Good consulting is educational. Good consulting is a learning exchange with your client," she says. "Client[s] should not just be told what to do. They should have learned something and be taking away new ideas and new ways to think."
—Jackie Powder Frank

 
>> Amy Tsui, Population, Family and Reproductive Health, medium class

Without a doubt, Amy Tsui says, teaching is one of the best ways for faculty to shake up their routines and learn new things. Both substantively and in terms of teaching, "student interaction grows faculty," and working with students can also inspire teachers to "get caught up on technology," says Tsui, who this year took up text messaging and began using YouTube videos in the classroom.

A first-time recipient of the Golden Apple, Tsui attributes her teaching success to her accessibility. Students know that she'll respond to their e-mails — even if at odd, jetlag-induced hours — and that she's available for appointments in which she'll help them find opportunities for internships, jobs, grants and awards. "I think students are entitled to access," says Tsui, a professor in Population, Family and Reproductive Health and director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Institute for Population and Reproductive Health.

"We all know that public health doesn't make anybody rich," she says. This fact, paired with the cost of tuition, is part of what compels her to help in any way that she can.

The one-term Family Planning Policies and Programs course attracts students whom Tsui finds diverse, international and great to work with. And even though there's a lot of material to cover, the students keep up: "They're on a treadmill, but they're motivated," she says. The course includes group presentations and discussions, but students are also required to calculate, measure and interpret data. "There's science behind the field," she says, and one of her goals is to make sure that her students are armed with up-to-date methods and information. As testament to the course's popularity, this year 80 percent of the students took it as an elective.

Some of the course's lessons often surprise its students, particularly in regard to how contraception-use profiles vary so greatly around the world. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, where the social climate does not support condom use, injectable birth control is the most popular. In China, the younger generation embraces IUDs and sterilization. And in India, with significant populations that are poor, the average age of sterilization for women is 25.

But even after 20 years in the classroom, Tsui has her share of surprises, too. It's been seven years since she's taught Family Planning, and this time around, she says, she felt like she had to catch up. "The patterns in the U.S. have shifted a lot," she says. Examples? "Friendship with benefits, for one." Also, emergency contraception is more popular now, and long-term continual use of contraception, such as birth control pills, is being replaced by more sporadic measures based on relationship status.

In graduate school, Tsui was drawn to the study of population growth, which was seen as an emerging international threat. But from there, she became interested in fertility, and from there pursued research into contraception and family planning. The more she learns, the more passionately she advocates for family planning. "If a woman can't control her pregnancy, she has no control over her life," she says. Paraphrasing a colleague, she says that there's no reason why pregnancy should mean a woman has to put her life on the line.

"In this school we learn more about death and disease than we do about birth and life," Tsui says. But she says she believes that prevention is all about living a healthy life, and that fertility — with all the debates, discussions and efforts to understand and manage it — has everything to do with health.
— Christine Grillo

 

Carey Business School

>> Tom Crain, Faculty and Research

Carey Business School: Fred Katz and Tom Crain

Tom Crain well remembers the sagacious advice once bestowed upon him by one of his professors when he was an undergraduate at Williams College. "He said, 'If you learn to do one thing well while at Williams, it should be to write,' " Crain recalls.

Crain took that counsel to heart, and then some. In a teaching career spanning his entire adult life, he has viewed writing as the linchpin of not just academic but cultural and professional success and personal growth. Crain, who first taught high school English literature, says he sees writing as the conduit leading to an intimate and unequaled understanding of his students.

"In teaching writing, you get to know students in ways that no other instructors do," he says. "Every class is a new class, even if you teach freshman composition 100 times. You have different students every time you teach it. In a sense, you're learning from your students as well."

Crain, a lecturer in the Faculty and Research Unit of the Carey Business School, co-teaches Foundations of Moral Leadership, providing him the chance to tap into his training not only in writing but also in philosophy and ethics. "Students have to put together a moral compass. For some students, it's a very revealing course. It forces them to think about how they make decisions and what their ethical values are," he says.

In another course he teaches, Managerial Communications, students identify and address a specific challenge at their workplaces through research, surveys, interviews and a written report delivered to authorities, who review and consider the report's recommendations. Here, too, issues of ethics and cultural diversity, as well as communication and group dynamics, are stressed, all presented in cogent and persuasive writing.

Crain, who this fall will mark 15 years of teaching at Johns Hopkins, once ran several of the school's undergraduate business programs as well as Odyssey, the perennially popular noncredit series of courses and events open to the public. Over the years, he has continued to teach writing courses that incorporate issues of philosophy, ethics and civic and personal responsibility. Two courses of which he is especially fond are Leadership and the Classics, which he created and designed, and American Cities: Baltimore, a long-running course on local history and government, co-taught with City Council member and fellow Johns Hopkins instructor Mary Pat Clarke. In the latter class, students create and promote an actual proposal to modify a city law of their choosing, with the aid of a sponsor on the City Council.

"If you want to understand the distinction between lecturing and teaching, look no further than Tom Crain," says former student Tyrone Taborn. "He has the uncanny ability to help students cross over to critical thinking. No matter where a student starts, Tom insists that they make a deeper connection to the materials. More importantly, Tom shows that learning is a lifelong journey."

No matter the course or the venue, "I love seeing people develop," says Crain, who holds a master's in English literature from the University of Michigan and is set to complete a doctorate from Johns Hopkins. "I remember a fellow faculty member who said his definition of an A was when a student taught him something," Crain says. "In the Baltimore course, I really did feel that we were a community of scholars, that I was learning as much as the students were. I'd say that is true for most of the courses that I teach. I'm always learning from the students."
—Andrew Blumberg

 
>> Fred Katz, Marketing/MBA

For Fred Katz, the adage of one door closing while another is opening has proven especially prophetic. That latter door would ultimately usher him into the world of teaching full time.

For more than 22 years, Katz, now a management and information technology consultant to IT, food service and other industries nationwide, ran his family's highly successful snack food company. He learned the business from the ground up, gaining experience in production, sales and marketing, distribution, personnel and management issues and, of course, all aspects financial. Much of Katz's consulting efforts focus on the discipline of direct store delivery.

Katz well remembers, and says he sometimes still misses, "the thrill of being an entrepreneur. You don't know how high the mountain is until you've visited the valley, and I think every entrepreneur has visited the valley," he says. "If I walked away with anything, it was the knowledge of what makes business tick, and a better understanding of people."

By the time Katz sold his business in 2001, the seeds of his teaching career, planted more than a decade earlier, had begun to blossom. He had started teaching marketing and business courses part time at the University of Maryland and the University of Baltimore in 1979, but due to the rapid growth of his business and his budding consulting career, had had to suspend his teaching duties. Now, Katz looked to embrace the profession.

"I always had a passion to keep up on education, to be a lifelong learner," he says. The classroom was Katz's modus operandi for accomplishing that, as well as the venue from which to impart his knowledge to a new generation of entrepreneurs. "After I sold the business, I said, Let's get my fingers back into it [teaching]."

Katz, who holds a bachelor's degree and an MBA from the University of Maryland, has taught in the Carey Business School's Master of Science in Marketing program since 2002, instructing students in such courses as Marketing Management, Marketing Strategy I and New Product Development and Marketing. He's also served as an adviser to numerous students embarking on the Applied Research Project, the final, ultimate course of the degree that synthesizes all newly acquired knowledge for the purpose of preparing an actual strategic analysis and marketing plan for an extant organization. Recently, he has begun instructing students of the MBA fellows program as well.

Katz, who is also an instructor in business, technology and computer science at a Montgomery County high school, defines the marketing discipline as a dynamic melding of art and science, contained within a strategic framework. "Half of the discipline is creative; half is analytical. When you blend the two, you blossom," he says.

"Fred was there every step of the way driving me toward excellence, providing amazing feedback and allowing me to grow both personally and professionally," says former student Kelly Gibson. "He expected from students what he was willing to provide, and that was excellence."

"My number-one goal," Katz says, "is that my students become strategic thinkers, that they walk away with the ability to make good decisions based on proper analysis of the data and try to remove any type of emotional spectrum from it. When they reach the ARP project, we let them fly solo, and they soar. That success I see emerging from the program is the pinnacle."
— Andrew Blumberg

 

Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

>> Elizabeth Rodini, History of Art

Krieger School of Arts and Sciences: Elizabeth Rodini and Lester Spence

Undergraduates in the Program in Museums and Society have come to expect the unexpected and to embrace it, thanks to Elizabeth Rodini, the program's associate director and one of this year's winners of the Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Awards in the Krieger School.

Rodini says she likes to offer unusual classes that push both her students and herself in new directions. Behind the Scenes at the Walters Art Museum, a fall 2007 class, is a stellar example of Rodini's efforts. The course gave Rodini and her student curators a chance to work with the staff at the Walters Art Museum and the Space Telescope Science Institute on the Homewood campus to develop the first exhibition of images from the Hubble Space Telescope.

"I was working with astrophysicists on material that was absolutely unfamiliar to me," Rodini says. "It was a process with the students, and that's what's exciting — figuring it out together. It is really different than going in with a prepared agenda."

The resulting exhibition, called Mapping the Cosmos, was a marriage of science and art that drew national attention along with the accolades of Rodini's students, who were involved in everything from selecting the images to writing exhibit guides.

"I have never been so proud of the work I had done," wrote one nominating student working toward a minor in the program. "The spring the exhibit opened, I would go to the room just to watch the visitors tour and to read the comment book. It felt incredible to have people appreciate work I had done. This collaboration would have never been possible without Dr. Rodini. After graduating, I plan to find a career in museums."

Working with Rodini on the exhibition inspired one psychology major who had little time left before graduating to apply for a minor in the program.

"Her dedication to serving the specific needs of each student and her ability to relate to the real world in practical ways with her course work opened my eyes in new ways, so much that I now find myself studying and working in Egypt, thanks in part to her support in my application to the Presidential Internship Program at the American University in Cairo," he wrote.

Another course in relatively uncharted territory took place at the Baltimore Museum of Art and focused on just one painting in its collection. Rodini invited a different speaker each week to talk about the painting, and the class worked closely with the BMA staff to turn what they were learning into something useful to a museum audience.

Both courses taught her students a valuable life lesson in learning to roll with whatever comes your way, Rodini says.

"In classes like that, I sort of say the first day that this is an experiment and I don't know exactly where it's going to go, and if you are going to be in this class, be ready to go with the flow," Rodini says. "There's a syllabus, of course, so the classes are not completely open-ended, but they are unpredictable. I definitely get the sense that they like it."

Undergraduates who take her courses are majoring in a variety of unrelated fields, and Rodini thinks that her program can help break up the predictability in students' schedules while encouraging them to appreciate Baltimore.

"Too often, Hopkins students look at the world outside of Homewood with fear and trepidation," wrote an undergraduate majoring in the history of science. "As sheltered students, we often think of The Wire and not the Walters when we think of Greater Baltimore. The first time I really came to appreciate the variety and diversity of Baltimore was sophomore year, when I took Professor Rodini's Museum Matters class. Every week we went out into the city to experience a completely unique museum. Over the course of the semester she led a group of 20 students to a dozen museums around the city and let us see how diverse and wonderful the world of museums is. Four years ago, you would have a difficult time finding students at Johns Hopkins interested in entering the museums field, now there is a bustling community of us."
—Amy Lunday

 
>> Lester Spence, Political Science

A researcher and a writer, Lester Spence didn't always think of himself as a teacher, too. But his outlook began to change when the assistant professor in the Krieger School's Political Science Department realized that his presence meant a great deal to his students, and that he was a positive influence on their development both inside and outside the classroom.

Students who nominated Spence for one of this year's Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Awards wrote that he is an adept lecturer whose mastery of the course material, vitality, sense of humor and familiarity with technology and pop culture ("he knows what phones we use, what shows we watch") cause his classes in black politics, urban politics and public opinion to be overbooked and well-attended.

"I enjoyed him because he was a young black professor and he was straightforward," an alumna wrote. "Because of his age [40], he was in tune with what was going on in today's black society. Even though the events such as slavery and the civil rights movement are extremely important to black history, it is important to look at what is going on today and what we can do about today's issues. Professor Spence is deeply interested in exploring these issues and involved in finding solutions."

Spence's students describe a teacher who not only has a knack for leading a discussion but for bringing students together and helping them achieve a balance between their studies and their lives outside the classroom.

"Professor Spence not only shows interest in his students' academic well-being but their general well-being also," one alumnus wrote in a nomination. "He always told us that school is only one part of your life, albeit an important part. He encouraged us to get involved in campus activities because, as he put it, 'You need some sort of relief. Life is about finding a good balance.'"

That's not to say that Spence takes his professorial duties lightly, though students report that he does so with a light hand. One alumna described the first day of the semester when Spence introduced himself and began to teach until two students tiptoed into the lecture hall 10 minutes later.

"Dr. Spence interrupts himself to greet the two new students and asks, with a touch of a smile, whether it was the rest of us who had it all wrong — and thought that class had started 10 minutes early," she recalls. "We all laughed, but we all also got the point: Lateness was not to be tolerated in his class. I would see Dr. Spence use this same tool, humor, to make sure that his students never forgot his high standards as well as to keep class entertaining."

At the heart of students' affinity for Spence seems to be the connections he makes with them as a mentor. They describe a professor who "was always interested in how we were doing outside of the classroom," as one former student wrote. "He always made sure that we were hanging in there, and was always willing to lend a hand if we were having troubles."

A member of the class of 2008 who earned a degree in political science wrote, "Spence sets himself apart as a star at the university because of his ability to excel in his field while also providing students with the support they need to succeed. He takes on the role of professor, confidant, mentor, counselor and friend without missing a beat or voicing any complaints. It is rare to find professors that care as much about students as they do about their research, and Spence is one of the very few that I have ever encountered."

Reading what his students wrote about him in their nomination letters was an emotional experience, Spence says.

"There's a moment in all of our lives when you actually doubt yourself and you wonder whether you are where you are supposed to be and are doing what you are supposed to be doing," Spence says. "It's easy to look back and say, Man, should I really be here? Getting this award, I actually teared up because it affirmed that this is where I am needed to be."

Spence's manuscript for his book "Stare in the Darkness: Rap, Hip-hop and Black Politics" will be published in August 2010 by the University of Minnesota Press.
—Amy Lunday

 

Peabody

>> Yong Hi Moon, piano

Peabody Institute winner Yong Hi Moon

By the door to pianist Yong Hi Moon's spacious teaching studio, Room 310C (C indicates its location in Peabody's 19th-century Conservatory building), is a bulletin board covered with brochures for competitions and summer festivals. Though Moon has mixed feelings about competitions — she tells students that whether they win or lose, "as a pianist you haven't changed a bit" — her studio has an impressive record of success.

Last September, one of her DMA students, Hye-Yeon Park, won first prize at the Hugo Kauder International Music Competition for Piano, and an MM student, Kyoo-Hye Hannah Lim, received a special honorable mention at the Ibiza International Piano Competition. Another of her DMA students, Michael Berkovsky, won Peabody's Peggy and Yale Gordon Concerto Competition in 2008; as the winner, he performed last month with the Peabody Symphony Orchestra led by guest conductor Leon Fleisher, Moon's distinguished Piano Department colleague.

The pros and cons of competitions are familiar to Moon, who made her debut with the Seoul Philharmonic at the age of 10 after winning the National Korean Broadcasting Competition. At 17, she moved to Vienna to continue her studies. Prizes followed at competitions in Austria, Italy, Portugal and Switzerland.

These youthful experiences help her empathize with her students, many of whom — not just the international students, she points out — must deal with internal and external pressure to excel, self- esteem issues and cultural conflict.

As one of the students who nominated Moon for the teaching award wrote, "Perhaps the greatest lesson I've learned from her is that your life experience is just as important as practicing. She has taught me that our growth as a person will inevitably have undue effect on our playing and connection to music."

In Moon's words: "The music they produce is like a mirror."

Moon's mentor was Maria Curcio Diamond, with whom she studied privately in London. The late Curcio Diamond, a student of the legendary pianist and composer Artur Schnabel (who also taught Fleisher), adapted her teaching to each student's particular needs. "My problem was her problem," recalls Moon, who adds that Curcio Diamond combined complete musicianship with thorough knowledge of the muscles of the fingers, hand and arm.

Another experience that Moon credits with making her a better teacher is raising three children, all musicians (but no pianists). Thanks in part to motherhood, she has "kind of an insight to see a student as a whole person and try to detect what their needs are and how their mind works."

Prior to joining Peabody in 2002, Moon spent 15 years on the faculty of Michigan State University. One of nine piano faculty members at Peabody, Moon had 19 students this year, about half undergraduate and half graduate. The total number of Peabody piano majors was 115. Each faculty member's studio functions as a unit, but classes in chamber music and contemporary repertoire, for instance, and master classes (public lessons in which several students perform) are open to all. "Students challenge each other a lot more in this environment," she says, "because most hope to pursue a performance career."

This summer, Moon will work with students at festivals and programs in Bowdoin, Maine; New Paltz, N.Y.; Williamstown, Mass.; and Beijing and Chengdu in China. In fact, she travels much of the year to teach and perform, always returning to her Peabody students. As one of them wrote in a nomination, "She is someone who comes straight from the airport to the conservatory on Sunday to give a makeup lesson because she had to give master classes in Korea during the week."
—Richard Selden

 

SAIS

The Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award is given each year to an adjunct professor at the Bologna Center; the recipient will be announced at the center's commencement on May 29. The school's teaching award given to a faculty member in Washington is known as the Max M. Fisher Prize. (See story, "Welsh to receive Max M. Fisher Prize at SAIS," in this issue.)

 

School of Education

>> Larry Kimmel, Department of Teacher Preparation

School of Education: Larry Kimmel

When Larry Kimmel started his first teaching job in 1962, John Kennedy was president and gas was 25 cents a gallon. The principal at Kenwood High in Baltimore County was so eager to hire him that he drove to his home in northeastern Pennsylvania to drop off copies of the textbooks and school curriculum. One of Kimmel's most profound learning experiences during those early years occurred in 1969, when he was selected for a fellowship at the Johns Hopkins Institute of Southern and Negro History.

"The institute came on the heels of civil rights struggles in the '60s and was in the forefront of a new way of looking at the problems and the historiography of race in this country," Kimmel says. "The institute included several great minds as visiting professors and scholars and institute Director Hugh Davis Graham. Graham, a noted historian, wrote several books on the civil rights movement, including his most influential work, Civil Rights Era: Origin and Development of National Policy.

"As a new social studies teacher, I felt like I was on the cutting edge of this new way of thinking. It was a life-changing experience," he says. Kimmel went on to spend 30 years with Baltimore County Public Schools. He taught social studies and retired after serving as principal of Hereford Middle School.

In 2000, he joined Johns Hopkins and was appointed coordinator of a program called Project Site Support to address the teacher shortage in Baltimore City. His duties included teaching, recruitment and mentoring prospective teachers. He retired from the coordinator position in 2006 but continues to teach and supervise new teachers for the School of Education.

Kimmel says he greatly enjoys teaching his class Special Topics in Secondary Social Studies, for which he was a co-recipient of this year's Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award. The course is designed to enrich prospective teachers' content knowledge in social studies. His students come mostly from Teach for America and the Baltimore City Teacher Residency program and are teaching in some of Baltimore's highest-need schools.

Like most students in Kimmel's class, Jared Solomon teaches full time during the day (in his case, as a social studies teacher at Northwest High School) and takes classes several evenings a week. Speaking of Kimmel, he says, "There are two things that make him an especially effective teacher. First, most of what we learn in class is directly applicable to our classrooms. This is especially helpful to us new teachers who deal with students on a daily basis. Secondly, he is very aware of his impact on his students. Larry is constantly assessing his effectiveness and adapting his class to the needs of his students. He's a very responsive professor. His is one of the best classes I've taken."

Kimmel says he was very surprised at receiving the award. "I was very happy and humbled about being recognized for the Excellence in Teaching Award, as there are so many talented teachers in the School of Education," he says. "But I am even happier that JHU has continued to recognize the importance of effective teaching at the university level. I'm honored to a part of this mix."

Frank Masci, chair of the Department of Teacher Preparation, praises Kimmel's dedication to preparing new teachers. "Larry brings over 30 years of working in public schools to the classroom. He is a great resource who brings much passion to his classroom."
—James Campbell

 
>> Bob Kline, Public Safety Leadership Program

School of Education: Bob Kline

Bob Kline believes that to be a good teacher you prepare hard for each class, do not lose sight of who your students are and use examples from your professional experience to demonstrate a point. His students obviously agree, having nominated him for an Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award.

Kline brings more than 30 years of experience to the classroom in the School of Education's Public Safety Leadership Program, where he teaches Organizational Change, and Leadership and Organizational Behavior. Kline's background includes working as a trainer and consultant with public and private agencies to improve their performance and assist their employees in aligning their efforts with the goals of the organization.

Kline tells his students that change can happen at any level in an organization, and that they should always be looking for an opportunity to demonstrate leadership. He says he especially enjoys discussing the role that resistance plays in making change happen, and he refers to the work of Rick Maurer, a change-management expert and author of Beyond the Wall of Resistance. "Many leaders don't understand resistance and fight those who resist change," Kline says. "Leaders need to understand how to embrace employee resistance and make it work for them."

Most of Kline's students work as first responders for police and fire departments, emergency agencies and federal law enforcement agencies.

"I'm fortunate to have students with such diverse backgrounds to complement my class presentations. They bring a rich variety of unique and compelling experiences to the classroom," he says. His assurance of confidentiality in class encourages students to be more open in sharing concerns, he says. "This sharing is important because we have students from different agencies and jurisdictions which can lead to very useful dialogue."

Pat Hawes, emergency manager at Suburban Hospital in Montgomery County, is one of the students who have high praise for Kline. "What separates Bob are his work ethic and commitment to the professional growth of his students. He can take complex concepts and present them in simplified terms that are easy to understand," she says.

Kline says he feels honored teaching professionals who are on the front lines every day. "These are people who are really trying to make this a better and safer world. It is a privilege for me to help them in some way," he says. Prior to joining Johns Hopkins, Kline was a full-time faculty member at the National Defense University, where he taught at the National War College. He co-authored Intelligence and the National Security Strategist, which has been used at all the senior service schools in the Department of Defense.

Sheldon Greenberg, associate dean and director of the Division of Public Safety Leadership, says, "Bob is extremely knowledgeable, caring, supportive, collegial and dedicated to his students. Students love him. I immensely appreciate all he does for us."

The division, considered one of the most comprehensive interdisciplinary public safety programs in the country, offers public safety personnel undergraduate and graduate degrees in management.
—James Campbell

 

School of Medicine

>> Sarah Clever, Internal Medicine

School of Medicine: Sarah Clever

Sarah Clever knows how hard it is to be a med student. After all, she once was one herself. That's what she keeps in mind when it comes time to teach her students. "One thing that I have tried to remember throughout all my teaching is how challenging the material is, and how stressful it can be as a med student trying to learn all of it," Clever says. "I just try to remember that feeling to help students navigate that, but at the same time I also want to share my enthusiasm for how amazing the human body is."

That enthusiasm for spreading knowledge paired with her sympathy for the plight of the common med student is what earned Clever this year's Alumni Association Award for Excellence in Teaching. Clever, associate director of the Clinical Skills Program and an assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, joined the General Internal Medicine faculty in August 2003 and ever since has been impressing students and teachers alike with her creativity and dedication.

Clever got started at Johns Hopkins by co-developing An Integrated Medical Encounter curriculum, which focuses on introducing second-year medical students to issues of patient-doctor communication. After being asked to serve as director of the Ambulatory Clerkship in Medicine for the 2004-2005 academic year, Clever then began to teach Healer's Art, a course designed to help medical students identify and strengthen their reasons for going into medicine, and featuring small and large group discussions on topics such as Discovering and Nurturing Your Wholeness and Sharing Grief and Honoring Loss. Effects of the course were clear: Students who enroll in Healer's Art are less likely to be burnt out, and have higher scores on interpersonal trust.

Always on the lookout to introduce new and interesting ways to develop the medical school curriculum, Clever has most recently collaborated with the Baltimore Museum of Art. Medicine in the Arts includes organized weekend outings to the museum and uses art to develop and sharpen students' visual observation skills. This approach to learning has proved to be quite popular, with nearly one- quarter of the entire student body participating in the elective in the first year alone.

"One of the things I love most is watching really bright students start to integrate information and start to understand that what they've learned in the classroom can really be used to help other people. I just think it's wonderful to watch that spark happen," Clever says. She is also a firm believer that the teacher/student relationship is reciprocal: "I enjoy the enthusiasm and commitment they bring to it, and they ask great questions that help me become a better doctor. I'm sure that my care of patients has improved because of my students and teaching experiences."

The future of Johns Hopkins will no doubt include Clever; she is scheduled to become assistant dean for student affairs on June 1. David Nichols, vice dean for education, is confident about this appointment. "Dr. Clever is widely recognized as a remarkable teacher and student advocate," he says. "In addition to her admirable interpersonal skills, Dr. Clever has extensive education and experience in curriculum design that will bring additional perspective to the Office of Student Affairs as we launch our new curriculum."

Clever was pleasantly surprised to learn that she had won this year's award. "I wasn't really expecting it. I knew that my boss had put me up for something, but I didn't know what. It's just a wonderful honor to be recognized for something that is so important to me."
— Hope Marijan

 

School of Nursing

>> Laura Taylor, Health Systems and Outcomes, baccalaureate level

School of Nursing: Shirley Van Zandt and Laura Taylor

"Hi, Gigi!" shouts Laura Taylor from the aisle of her classroom. She's waving hello to a woman who appears on the projection screen at the front of the room.

"Oh, hi, Dr. Taylor," Gigi says with a smile. She looks into the camera, seemingly peering at the roomful of students. "How's it going?"

Despite Gigi's wild pigtails and outrageous clothing, the students quickly get the feeling that there's something disconcertingly familiar about her.

"I'm great," Taylor says. "How are you feeling today?"

"I'm feeling a little old today," complains Gigi, "but that's what happens with us clones."

Creating Gigi the Clone is just one of many creative techniques Taylor uses to engage her undergraduate students. Recorded at home with the help of her teenage sons and featuring a short "Rock Band" guitar solo, the video allows Taylor to entertain as well as inform. And her students certainly pay attention.

"Dr. Taylor accomplished the amazing feat of making pathophysiology fun," wrote one student who nominated Taylor for the Excellence in Teaching Award. Though the subject of patho is notoriously unpopular, the student "can honestly say that I have retained more knowledge from her class than any other."

Taylor, who also teaches courses in health assessment and nursing informatics, isn't new to innovative teaching strategies. As a child, she learned from her father, who was a professor of dentistry at Howard University. "He was bringing home teaching awards all the time," Taylor recalls. "I learned many of my teaching techniques, like putting family photos in my presentations, from him." (A presentation on diuresis features a photo of her son, strategically and proudly posed in front of a streaming fountain of water.) "Like my father, I am enjoying both my career and my family — and I'm showing my students that it's possible to meld the two."

Other teaching techniques include making podcasts as study guides, recording herself dancing to simulate heart rhythms and asking students to use Twitter during class. Whether it's chewing gum like a dog while learning about jawbones, doing aerobics and breathing through a straw to mimic chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or holding a candlelight vigil for Jerry Garcia during a coronary disease lecture, Taylor is full of ideas to create "teachable moments" that the students will not soon forget.

"I'm not afraid to have fun, to try new things," Taylor says. "My classes aren't easy, but students will accept difficult course work as long as I am fair and accessible."

And she gives the students credit for mastering the challenging course work. "Hopkins is the best place to be, because our students are so very bright," she says. "Yes, I have expertise in nursing, but they have different skill sets in which they're the expert. I value the brainpower that's sitting in my classroom. I always want to convey respect for the students' time and their knowledge. I think they see that."
—Kelly Brooks-Staub

 
>> Shirley Van Zandt, Community and Public Health, graduate level

"Everyone wants to be like Shirley," wrote a student as she nominated Shirley Van Zandt for an Excellence in Teaching Award. "There are some nurse practitioners who you just know are excellent clinicians and thoughtful health care providers. Shirley is one of them."

"I like to provide encouragement and mentoring," says Van Zandt, an instructor at the School of Nursing. "I especially enjoy working with students who are struggling a bit with the content, struggling to find their way. I like to help them evolve as a nurse or nurse practitioner."

Throughout the school, Van Zandt has a reputation for challenging students. And among the graduate student population, she is known for her tough take-home exams and hands-on mentoring.

"No advisee of Shirley's is going to slide through the program," wrote another nominating student. "And you wouldn't want to since Shirley is so excited for your potential and helping to motivate you along!" She is described as "an inspiration" and "a patient mentor, who always encouraged me to improve my skills and think critically."

Before joining the School of Nursing in 1993, Van Zandt worked at Wyman Park Medical Center as the clinical manager for Internal Medicine. It was an administrative job with a small clinical component, she says, but "what I enjoyed about working with both patients and nurses was the ability to teach, mentor and encourage people to develop their skills and practice."

Today, she teaches nursing graduate students in advanced health assessment and adult primary care, which includes coordinating the courses Advanced Health Assessment; Diagnosis, Symptom and Illness Management; and a capstone for MSN/MPH students who are also becoming nurse practitioners. She also is a nurse practitioner at the JHH Employee Health and Wellness Center.

Her philosophy is that "people learn best when they are least threatened and most confident. I like to create an environment where students feel safe to ask questions and offer their own understanding."

She helps to create a safe environment through thoughtful questioning and unwavering respect for her students. "We are all learners," she says. "I learn alongside every student I've ever taught. And we have exceptional students here. They are strong academically, and so inspired to make a difference in the world."

In the classroom, Van Zandt strives to challenge these exceptional students, raising questions to make them think beyond just one patient or one clinical situation and look at how nursing care will impact an entire population or health care system. "I want students to understand the role they will assume in the very complex health care system as advanced-practice nurses," she says. "It's a rapidly changing environment, so nurses need to have a broad view of their role in order to remain flexible."

Despite the rigorous demands she places on her students, many of them claim her to be among their favorite professors. On a recent spring break trip, a group of eight students even sent her a "wish you were here" postcard.

"She is never without enthusiasm or a smile," says one of her students. "She brings energy and hope to students that their work will pay off. And to her I am grateful that I am where I am today."
—Kelly Brooks-Staub

 

Whiting School of Engineering

>> David Yue, Biomedical Engineering

Whiting School of Engineering: David Yue

The students who sit through David Yue's lectures have learned to expect anything but a dull drone. Several of the engineering students who nominated him for this year's Alumni Excellence in Teaching Award in the Whiting School likened Yue's instructional talks to a summer blockbuster film.

"He transforms his lectures into something like a thriller movie — you don't want to miss a second of it," one student says. "His lectures are 90-minute marvels covering the history, mechanisms and applications of ion channel study."

Another student added, "The material excites him so much that it excites all of us."

A third student's assessment resembled a literature review: "Topics that at first seem detached and abstract come to life under the vivid metaphors and colorful language that have become Professor Yue's trademarks."

Yue, a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, teaches systems bioengineering — a core course for majors in this field — and an elective course in ion channels. He insists that, as a teacher, he was not an overnight sensation. "I've put a steady amount of work into my classes over the past 20 years. The cumulative effect is sort of like water torture," he says with a laugh. "It allows you to improve the way you communicate as the years go by."

His gift for language is evident in a section of his Web site where he reflects on the challenges and rewards of medical research and teaching.

In a post titled "The privilege of discovery," Yue writes, "Every so often, the veil of confusing experimental results is parted, and something deep and beautiful about how biological life works is revealed. It is as if a syllable that God spoke becomes suddenly audible. The thrill of unearthing such 'God speak' is one of the special rewards of my profession."

As a course instructor, Yue says he has benefited from being in a department associated with both the School of Medicine, with its rigorous training for physicians, and the Whiting School, where undergraduates complete their basic engineering studies. Educating both medical students and undergraduates "has helped me develop as a better teacher overall," he says. "It's turned into a blessing instead of an obligation."

Yue grew up in Southern California with a great fascination for science. He earned his bachelor's degree in biochemical science at Harvard, where one of his own favorite teachers was Edward Purcell, a Nobel laureate in physics.

He then entered the demanding MD/PhD program in the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. After receiving his degrees, he joined the School of Medicine's Biomedical Engineering faculty in 1989. Today, he is director of the department's Calcium Signals Lab and co-director of its PhD program. He has a secondary appointment in the school's Department of Neuroscience.

"Both research and teaching have been a high priority for me over the past 20 years," Yue says. "Being able to teach well and find out new things in science are both important parts of being a university professor."
—Phil Sneiderman

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