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Lisa Kasmer receives a Pew Teaching Excellence Award
Professor Lisa Kasmer is the recipient of a 2015 Pew Teaching Excellence Award. After working for several years at Auburn University, Lisa was drawn to join Grand Valley’s math department in 2010 because of our focus on students and teaching. Originally from Michigan, she also says that she missed being home.
While at Auburn, Lisa worked with a colleague at Purdue to develop a program providing future teachers the opportunity to teach in Tanzania. When she came to Grand Valley, Lisa brought this program with her and has partnered with our Padnos International Center to give students an unforgettable experience in which they practice their profession while learning about themselves in a different culture. Lisa says that the most exciting part of the trip is “is watching the incredible growth the students demonstrate in Tanzania and their continued growth when they return to campus. They are able to draw from their experiences not only in subsequent course work but as they interview for teaching positions and their first few years teaching.”
She also enjoys getting to know the students in an environment different from a typical classroom. She says, “My own teaching has been influenced as I consider the issues and struggles our students face in Tanzania, and I try to incorporate that into my classes. It makes me see first-hand what our students struggle with in terms of content knowledge and how I can better help them in campus classes.”
In addition to the Tanzania program, Lisa has mentored many students as they work on capstone projects and honors theses. The number and diversity of these projects is remarkable. For instance, Lisa recently mentored a project on malaria education in which she learned a lot about mosquitoes. Later this year, she will mentor a student project on fluorosis. She says that she enjoys helping students look at their research from different perspectives so that they develop the ability to answer many of their own questions. For her part, she enjoys the new learning these projects require of her, saying “each project gives me new insight and understanding of issues I have not had an opportunity to explore in the past.”
Throughout all of her teaching, Lisa wants her students to become thoughtful practitioners as they develop their abilities to think about their own thinking. In all aspects of their work, whether solving a math problem, teaching, or planning, Lisa wants her students to ask themselves why they do what they do. As she has made this goal much more explicit in her teaching, she has been satisfied to see the students getting better at thinking about their thinking and learning to express what they discover.
Lisa appreciates the support she gets from colleagues and staff in the math department and describes her position at Grand Valley as a “perfect fit.” We congratulate Lisa on her Pew Teaching Excellence Award and thank her for everything she gives both to our department and our students.