Interesting, valuable, effective, essential and entertaining -- these words are laced throughout student evaluations for Lou Anne Wright, a professor of voice, speech, dialects, acting and theatre history in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Wyoming. Such praise has earned her the university's John P. Ellbogen Meritorious Classroom Teaching Award.
The other recipients are Teresa Bogard, professor in the Department of Music; Jacquelyn Bridgeman, associate professor in the College of Law; Katta J Reddy, professor in the Department of Renewable Resources; and Leslie Rush, assistant professor in the
The awards are made possible by a fund established by Ellbogen to "foster, encourage and reward excellence in classroom teaching at UW." Winners are selected from a list nominated by students, and the awards are based entirely on classroom performance and helpfulness to students.
A native of Worland, Ellbogen established an endowment for teaching awards in appreciation for his family and state's encouragement of education.
"Her student evaluations are stellar and show that she is not only an excellent teacher in terms of her knowledge of the field, but that she shows great respect for her students and for the profession of acting," wrote Rebecca Hilliker, a professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance.
"She is one of the finest teachers on campus," Hilliker said. "Lou Anne is professional, demanding of her students' best and compassionate. Her devotion to our program and to teaching makes her a role model for all of us."
Leigh Selting, the department's chair, said letters "poured in" when word got out that she was nominated for this award.
"Lou Anne not only is successful in the teaching of the subject matter, but nearly every student speaks to the passion, zeal and personal impact she has made upon their lives and career, both academically and professionally," he said. "I find her approach to teaching refreshing, energetic and infectious."
Another colleague, assistant professor Ceclia Aragon, described Wright's classroom environment as powerful and commented on her ability to capture students' attention.
"She demands excellence in her teaching and excellence is reciprocated from her students," Aragon said.
One student said Wright has "changed the way I view the world" and glowed about her teaching style and energy.
"She is an excellent teacher because she asks her students to look inside themselves and find their own answers. She guides the student and helps them discover answers that they didn't know were possible, would not be where I am today if she hadn't taken the time and compassion for me to see the impact learning has not only in the classroom but outside of it."
Megan Antles, one of Wright's students, pointed out Wright's compassion and efforts to make students feel welcome.
"She exhibits nothing but an appreciated blend of patience, humor, knowledge and experience to all her students," she said.
Anna Brownsted, another student of Wright's, said the professor is a "constant source of encouragement and wit. She leads by example both inside the classroom and in the world."
Wright received her B.A. in theatre from the California State University at Northridge (1990), her M.F.A. in theatre voice coaching and training from the National Theatre Conservatory (1993), and became a certified teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework in 2004. She has also been published in books, created courses, assisted in productions as a voice, dialect and text coach, and has received playwriting awards.
Posted on Thursday, May 08, 2008