Four Local Educators Named to UNK College of Education Academy for Teacher Education Excellence

Dr. Ed Scantling
UNK College of Education Dean, 308.865.8502

UNK– Four local educators have been inducted into the Academy for Teacher Education Excellence at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

“The Academy for Teacher Education Excellence at UNK recognizes, rewards and supports the excellence that select teacher educators demonstrate in the preparation of new teachers for the P-12 education profession,” said Dr. Ed Scantling, dean of the UNK College of Education.

The four recipients include Dena Harshbarger, a teacher at Meadowlark Elementary School in Kearney, and three UNK faculty members. UNK faculty members include: Dr. Neal Schnoor, an associate professor who teaches in both the Department of Teacher Education and the Department of Music and Performing Arts; Dr. Trecia Markes, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Physical Science; and Dr. Martha Kruse, associate professor and chair of the Department of English.
“Each inductee receives a $1,000 Professional Development Grant to use in support of their work in preparing teachers,” Dr. Scantling said. “The grant funds may be used for professional travel, research activities, equipment, supplies or to support other strategies that they may have for improving their effectiveness at working in the area of teacher preparation.”

Awards are based on nomination letters and are grouped into one of three categories: P-12 school-based educator, UNK arts and sciences-based educator, or a UNK educator who works full-time in teacher preparation. In addition, nominees must work as a teacher educator at UNK or in a UNK network of partner schools. The nominations are reviewed by the UNK Advisory Council on Teacher Education in the spring, and recommendations are made to the dean of the UNK College of Education, who makes the final selection.

“The Academy was developed as an important component of our UNK Advisory Council on Teacher Education and in recognition of the fact that the very best university teacher education programs in the United States are those that use a tripartite approach to planning and curriculum development,” Dr. Scantling said.

“This approach seeks to join the efforts of the COE teacher education faculty with the active involvement and advice of the UNK arts and sciences faculty, and the P-12 teachers and administrators who form the university’s network of partner schools.” Dr. Scantling added.

In the letter for Harshbarger, the nominator wrote: “UNK students are truly inspired by Dena’s never ending passion and enthusiasm for elementary teaching. Dena is an inspiration for all of our future teachers who are placed in her classroom.” Harshbarger regularly works with four or five UNK Math Methods II students and student teachers in her classroom each semester.

Dr. Schnoor’s enthusiasm was also noted by his nominator who wrote: “Neal puts into practice what he enthusiastically models for teaching candidates in his department. As a musician, he is by nature creative and motivational. In my work with Dr. Schnoor, I have come to respect his high standards for UNK education students and his sincere concern for turning out the best teachers we possibly can.”

Drs. Markes and Kruse were nominated in the UNK Arts and Sciences Based Teacher Educators category. Dr. Markes works with physics teachers through online courses and helped found the Physics Club at UNK. In the nomination letter for Dr. Markes, her nominator wrote: “I highly recommend Dr. Markes for induction into the academy; she is a caring, inspirational teacher who helps future teachers develop into dedicated professionals.”

“Dr. Kruse demonstrates a passion for preparing future teachers,” a nominator wrote. “She has taught the department’s English Methods course for 10 years along with other supporting courses for future teachers. Students attest to Dr. Kruse’s abilities as a teacher regularly with comments such as, ‘Dr. Kruse is one of the best professors I’ve ever had. She personifies education excellence at UNK—she is the whole package!’”