Teaching Excellence Awards

 Year Awarded: 2015

Faculty Award winner

Nancy Brasel

 College of Education and Human Performance

 Teaching, Learning, and Leadership

My students are teacher candidates who will become classroom teachers to countless children after successfully completing this degree.


I keep this challenging perspective in mind as I teach my courses. My students need to learn how to become highly effective teachers to students who have a multitude of needs and abilities in a time period when educators are faced with increasing demands and decreasing respect and autonomy. As I teach junior and senior Early Childhood Development and Elementary Education students, I watch them arrive with a very basic understanding of educational theory and practice to watch them arrive at graduation having acquired and mastered skills and abilities that inform their personal teaching philosophy.


My primary goal as I teach these teacher candidates is to instill into them a passion for students and learning. If they can capture the vision for providing all students a safe, positive learning environment and to always be fascinated with how children learn, then I can build on that foundation the knowledge, skills and dispositions they will need in order to meet their students’ needs. Without a strong foundation of enthusiasm, their passion for teaching can be squashed by the weight and pressures that are hoisted onto teachers by society and the media. I find that sharing anecdotes from my years in the classroom along with those classrooms I visit today provide vignettes to capture the students’ interest and to share my passion for teaching children. I am also privileged to teach one of my courses in the community with children and families which brings the joy of teaching to the students sooner than later.


I believe it is important to wed theoretical frameworks that have stood the test of time with current research findings in order to prepare teachers who can withstand the sometimes radical pendulum swings and to apply highly effective, differentiated instructional strategies that meet the needs of their students. These teacher candidates need a firm grasp on the theories of Vygotsky, Piaget, Dewey, Maslow and Erikson to understand the framework for effective practices. They also need to be able to critically read and review current research to determine its value and to discern whether it should be used to inform instruction.


I hope you can tell that I am passionate about teaching, learning, children and my university students. I am frequently reminded of the proverb that says, “You may know how many seeds are in an apple but you’ll never know how many apples are in a seed.” My passion for education is what called me to become a teacher, and I believe that by teaching future teachers, I am changing children’s lives—children who I will never have an opportunity to meet.