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April Heaney Receives UW's Golden Apple Award

April 16, 2009
April Heaney is being honored for excellence in teaching UW freshmen.

By Nicole Lebsack
UW Media Relations Intern

April Heaney's colleagues praise her for dedicating so much time to her students.

"I can think of no faculty member who cares as deeply about first-year students, who talks to them so thoughtfully about their needs, who turns them on so effectively to the pleasures of learning, or who implements so many initiatives to help them succeed," wrote Peter Parolin, chairman of the University of Wyoming Department of English, when he nominated Heaney for the Golden Apple Award.

The Golden Apple Award was established in 1986 by Beatrice Gallatin Beuf of Big Horn to recognize teaching excellence in freshman-level courses in the College of Arts and Sciences. She was inspired to create the award by the Greek myth of the Hesperides.

An assistant lecturer in the Department of English, Heaney teaches classes including Images and American Culture, Imagining American Culture, Introduction to Writing Non-Fiction and Introduction to Literature.

In addition to her regular teaching duties, Heaney has taken on extra leadership roles that show her dedication to students and teaching. She works extensively with Synergy, UW's program for first-year students identified as academically at risk.

Recognizing a consistent problem within her department, Heaney created Stretch 1010, a program that allows under-prepared writing students who failed English 1010 in the fall to take an incomplete grade and then take a modified version of the course in the spring for a better grade.

Since 2007 Heaney has directed the Learning Resource Network (LeaRN), coordinating programs to help students succeed academically at lower-division classes. She compiles information and assembles LeaRN's Academic Success Guide, a handbook detailing advice ranging from classroom dos and don'ts to adjusting to life away from home or finding the right major.

Nicole Quackenbush, who works with Heaney as a teacher in the Synergy program, says, "As a mentor, April begins as a listener."

Colleague Rick Fisher says, "She not only helps her own students be successful but also empowers other instructors to increase their effectiveness with these students."

Student evaluations and recommendations echo the praises of her colleagues.

"Her attitude toward us students was incredible," one student comments. "She always stayed positive and made each student feel great."

"When April taught me the principle of revision, she taught me self-discovery and self-improvement, the greatest gifts a teacher can give," says creative writing student Jane Hawley. "When April taught me to revise, she taught me to experiment, to fail, to grow, and ultimately to investigate myself and my creative and intellectual abilities."

Heaney is a UW graduate, earning a B.A. in English in 1998 and an M.A. in English in 2000. She has been an assistant lecturer in the English department since 2005.

Posted on Thursday, April 16, 2009

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