Valpo Awards Teaching Honor

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Valparaiso University has named Amanda Zelechoski the recipient of its first Arts and Sciences Emerging Teacher Award. She was nominated for efforts including an "Inside-Out Prison Exchange" course involving 15 students and 15 incarcerated individuals.

October 17, 2014

News Release

Valparaiso, Ind. -- Valparaiso University has honored Amanda Zelechoski, Ph.D., as the inaugural recipient of its Arts and Sciences Emerging Teacher Award, which encourages and recognizes excellence in teaching among junior faculty members.

"It is an incredible honor to receive the inaugural A&S Emerging Teacher Award. As I am surrounded by some of the best teachers I have encountered in my career, to be recognized in this way is truly humbling," Zelechoski said.

Zelechoski joined Valpo's psychology department in fall 2011. Her scholarship focuses primarily on investigating psychological issues faced by underserved children and adolescents in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. Zelechoski strives to improve the systemic experiences of at-risk youth through research to reduce their future risk of engaging in violent behavior.

"Amanda has established herself as a highly effective and engaging teacher," Jon Kilpinen, Ph.D., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said. "It is clear that both students and peers recognize her as a superb teacher."

Award criteria includes positive course evaluations, innovative or creative pedagogy with demonstrable learning results, and the development of at least one new course that enriches the department’s curriculum. Zelechoski was nominated by Dan Arkkelin, professor and chair of psychology, who in his nomination wrote, "Amanda is a talented, enthusiastic, dedicated and engaging instructor- in short, she is a natural teacher who is truly committed to the enrichment and development of her students."

Recently, Zelechoski partnered with the sociology department to develop an Inside-Out Prison Exchange course that brought together 15 Valpo students and 15 incarcerated individuals to study psychology- and criminology-related topics. Zelechoski said the class, taught in Westville Correctional Facility, was a transformative experience for both the students and instructors and fostered open dialogue while dispelling stereotypes.

"One of the things I enjoy most about teaching at Valpo is the ability to interact with students inside and outside of the classroom, which allows us to get to know them well, learn about and encourage their passions, and see them evolve throughout their years here," Zelechoski said. "I consider it an extraordinary privilege to teach at a university that encourages and supports faculty in creating innovative classroom and research opportunities for our students."

About Valparaiso University

Valparaiso University is a comprehensive independent Lutheran university with more than 4,500 students on its campus located in Northwest Indiana, an hour from Chicago. Valpo is a community of purpose-driven, service-minded and ethical individuals who embrace the pursuit of truth with freedom, humility and compassion. Valpo has been identified as one of the top master’s-level institutions in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report magazine for the past 26 years. Valparaiso University offers more than 110 undergraduate academic programs through the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Engineering and Nursing and Health Professions. Valpo also has a distinguished honors college, a Law School, and more than 40 degree and certificate programs in its Graduate School and Continuing Studies. Valpo has been recognized for its commitment to outstanding teaching, preparing thoughtful leaders with strong cross-cultural skills and global awareness and dedication to serving others.

Source: Valparaiso University