Rosemary M. Karr - Acceptance Speech

Outstanding Community Colleges Professor of the Year
Rosemary M. Karr
Professor of Mathematics
Collin County Community College

Distinguished guests, colleagues, friends and family:

I would like to thank The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education for this prestigious award. I offer special thanks to the entire administration at Collin College-in particular President Israel for his nomination and Dr. Collins, chairman of the board, who is here today representing our college. I would also like to acknowledge my husband of 31 years, Fred, for his unwavering support and encouragement.

I am honored to be here and to have the opportunity to share a few thoughts regarding my role in the learning process. My vision is to achieve academic excellence through an integrated, instructional approach that engages a student's cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains. I teach students to think logically, and challenge them to question why mathematics works as it does. I welcome the opportunity to reach a diverse population of students and alleviate their fear of mathematics while cultivating their desire to achieve.

Colleagues often ask me where I get my energy. My students energize me! When students tell me that I have made mathematics accessible and understandable, I am encouraged to work even harder. Those who have chosen teaching as a profession understand when I say, "My head is in mathematics; while my heart is in teaching."

All of today's award winners share a love for undergraduate teaching although our expertise is in different fields. But consider this-every one of our students is better than us at something, and we need to do what we do well so that they can excel at what they choose to do. To make this happen, I promote the following three strategies:

  • Structure classes in a collaborative environment where students can grapple with conceptual ideas and ask questions without trepidation. This allows synergistic learning and encourages students to take ownership of their education.
  • Support a level of success beyond the classroom, beyond subsequent courses and into life itself, thereby helping each student to prepare for success in a rapidly changing world, and finally,
  • Include measurements of how well students think through a process rather than solely on how they answered a test question. This type of feedback will induce students to embrace a deeper understanding of their educational goals.

The essence of my teaching philosophy is captured in the motto of the National Association for Developmental Education, which is: "Helping under-prepared students to prepare, prepared students to advance, and advanced students to excel..." I hope my receipt of this award increases candid discussions of effective instructional processes in the field of developmental education.

I believe that every student deserves the opportunity to pursue an educational dream and to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills for employment. Many of my students excel in their endeavors. I am motivated by my students like Angie, who returned to school after age 44, enrolled in Beginning Algebra, and was inspired to become a high school math teacher. Another student began in developmental mathematics and became a Fulbright Scholar!

It is incumbent upon us, in our role as educators, to promote holistic teaching processes that will account for the enormous inherent learning variations among our students. As William Butler Yeats once stated, "Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." So please join me in igniting a passion for learning within our students. We teach with enthusiasm for our subject and a desire to help others achieve their dreams. We teach because, in our small corners of the world, we each make a difference.

I am honored to accept this award. Thank you.