Lynch School of Education Professor Named ‘Professor of the Year’
ByLynch School of Education Associate Professor Audrey Friedman has been named the Massachusetts Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in recognition of her commitment to preparing the next generation of classroom teachers.
A former high school teacher in Philadelphia who earned her doctorate at the Lynch School in 1995 and has been teaching at BC ever since, Friedman said she was honored to be recognized by the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, or CASE, as the top university professor in the state through the U.S. Professors of the Year awards program, the only national initiative specifically designed to recognize excellence in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.
"I was blown away,” Friedman said of the news during an interview at Brighton High School, where each Thursday she teaches Lynch School students enrolled in Secondary Methods of Curriculum and Instruction, which combines educational theory with practical classroom experience.
Though her career has been defined by her passion for teaching, Friedman admits she gets nervous every time she faces a room full of students.
“I don’t think I’ll ever not be nervous before a class,” she said. “You have to reach the students in front of you and get the lessons
John Lippincott, president of CASE, said the 2009 national and state winners represent the best in undergraduate teaching and mentoring.
"These professors have a passion for teaching that sparks a passion for learning in their students," Lippincott said. "As great teachers, they combine a profound knowledge of their disciplines with creative teaching methods to engage students within and outside of the classroom. We celebrate their achievements and contributions to teaching and student learning."
Friedman admits to energizing her classrooms with candy bars and snacks, in addition to skillful lecturing. And she’s not afraid to take a lesson that’s worked, rip it apart and start over again.
“I change it up all the time. I’m never happy with my teaching. If you’re happy with your teaching all the time, I think there might be room for improvement.”
She says the nerves and the constant tinkering with her courses and lectures give her work an extra edge that keeps students focused and interested.
Judging by the comments of the students who helped to nominate Friedman, her approach works.
“No teacher or professor has made a bigger impact on my education and my own teaching career than Dr. Friedman,” wrote one former student.
“She is an amazing woman, a passionate teacher, and a powerful role model for all aspiring teachers. As an undergraduate, she inspired me to push myself to achieve excellence and to strive to continue to improve myself.”
Wrote another student: “Anyone who has been in a class taught by Dr. Audrey Friedman also knows that she is truly a scholar when it comes to teaching and learning.”
Friedman’s work in the past has been recognized with the Boston College Distinguished Faculty Award for excellence in teaching (2000-01). In 2003, she received the Mary Kaye Waldron Award from UGBC. Her work on school-university collaboration at Brighton High School earned her a Boston Higher Education Partnership Award in 2005.
Friedman says her work at an inner-city high school continues to fuel her teaching, as well as her research, writing and grant projects.
“What I see here at Brighton High School I can bring right back to the students in my classroom at BC,” she said. The same experiences also drive her research. This year, she has co-authored papers for Action Research in Education and Action in Teacher Education and has articles forthcoming in the International Journal of Science Education, and the Journal of Educational Change, as well as a chapter in the upcoming publication Research on Urban Teacher Learning.
Friedman is a co-principal investigator with Assistant Professor of Physics Vidya Madhavan and Assistant Professor of Education Katherine L. McNeill on a five-year, $800,000 NOYCE grant from the National Science Foundation. The grant funds scholarships for students in a one-year master’s degree in education program designed for science majors who want to pursue a career teaching science in urban schools.
Lynch School Associate Dean for Faculty and Academics Maureen Kenny nominated Friedman, noting that her work was defined by an “extraordinary level of dedication, hard work, talent, and caring.”
Kenny said the impact Friedman has had on prospective teachers, particularly those preparing to work in urban school systems, has been powerful.
“Dr. Friedman’s commitment to secondary education, especially in urban communities, stems from her own early career experience as a secondary school teacher,” Kenny wrote. “Dr. Friedman brings this passion and commitment to her engagement with university undergraduates. Her capacity to inspire them comes not only from her own passion, but also from her knowledge about how to effectively instruct and motivate college students.”
Friedman said she values the support she has received from her Lynch School colleagues, who share her passion for great teaching and producing graduates with a thorough knowledge of educational theory and practice, as well as the belief in social justice.
“Ever since I came to the Lynch School, my colleagues have been very supportive, great collaborators and great people,” she said, expressing her gratitude to LSOE Dean Joseph O’Keefe, SJ. “[He] and the other deans I have worked with have all been wonderful. I have great colleagues and the Lynch School is a great place to be.”
Ed Hayward can be reached at email@example.com