Pennsylvania State University Wins Professor of the Year Award For Helping Students Collaborate on Ethnically Diverse Projects

November 26, 2014 by No Comments

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Dr. Laurie Grobman, Professor of English and Women’s Studies at Penn State Berks, has been named “Outstanding Baccalaureate College Professor of the Year” for her work, which challenges students to look at issues of equality and fairness facing historically overlooked groups and minorities. One of four national winners of the 2014 U.S. Professors of the Year awards, Grobman was honored on November 20 at the National Press Club in the nation’s capital.

“I am delighted that Dr. Laurie Grobman is being honored as the Baccalaureate College Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching,” said R. Keith Hillkirk, Penn State Berks Chancellor. “Dr. Grobman inspires and challenges her students to levels of achievement and excellence that I’m sure surprise the students themselves at times. She is a truly outstanding teacher and a valued member of the Penn State Berks faculty who all pride themselves on their commitment to undergraduate teaching and learning.”

Grobman was selected for the award not only because of her work as a teacher-scholar, integrating service learning into her writing and literature classes, but also because of her dedication to challenging issues of equality. In her classes, students take on community-based research projects, which bring their attention to groups that have historically been overlooked. As the judges put it, Grobman has “incorporated an impressive program of service learning and community-based research” into her classes.

In one specific project, Grobman and her students worked with the African American Community to publish Woven with Words: A Collection of African American History, a history book describes the rich, untold heritage of Berks County, Pennsylvania’s 18th Century inception.

This project then set the stage for a second publication, titled Hispanics/Latinos in Reading and Berks: A Portrait of a Community, which is the first comprehensive documentation of the Berks County’s Hispanic/Latino community.

The president of the Jewish Federation of Reading then approached Grobman to design a similar project for the Jewish community. In partnership with the Jewish Cultural Center/Jewish Federation of Reading, and hundreds of members of the Jewish community, Penn State Berks students created the A History of the Jewish Community in Reading and Berks County.

Her students then worked on a second book with the Jewish community. Jewish Reading and Berks used well-lit and well-composed pictures, which is what great photography is all about, to focus on the issues emanating from historical photographic storytelling, such as historical truth. Arcadia Published published the book for the “Images in America Series.”

In her most recent project, Grobman’s students researched and wrote the history of the first three decades of the Olivet Boys and Girls Club of Reading, which culminated in the publication of a book titled, A History of the First Three Decades of the Olivet Boys and Girls Club in Reading, Pennsylvania.

“Laurie Grobman is a dedicated and caring educator,” said Nick Jones, Penn State Provost. “Penn State is full of dedicated faculty and it’s a delight to see someone so knowledgeable in her discipline and committed to helping students be recognized at this level. Being known throughout the United States as one of the best is certainly a clear statement about Dr. Grobman’s effectiveness and devotion to the profession. It is gratifying to see Penn State faculty recognized for so positively impacting the lives of our students.”

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